On Feb. 18, the University of Maine’s Sustainability and Environment Action Division (SEAD) group hosted Lisa Savage, a Maine Green Independent Party candidate running for the U.S. Senate. Savage spoke to students in a town-hall-style meeting in the Memorial Union.
Savage spoke about a variety of different topics, but focused on describing her plans to abolish student debt and help save the climate with a Green New Deal if elected as one of Maine’s senators.
In regard to education, Savage said that she feels that public education is a critical part of democracy and has been underfunded throughout her entire life. Furthermore, she said that she will fight to fully fund public education. Savage said that her work in office will also focus on America’s student debt crisis. She finds the burden of debt to be unfair for college students to carry into their adult lives as they enter the workforce.
“I actually think that student debt should be forgiven and people should be able to start fresh in their life, with an education to contribute to society,” Savage shared.
This issue hits close to home for Savage, as she currently works as a public school teacher in rural Maine.
Her time as a public school teacher has inspired her to fight for medicare for all. Savage said that she teaches a number of students whose families struggle to keep a roof over their heads and pay for their next meal, and almost none of the adults in these families have adequate health or dental care. She said that she will fight to change this problem and that America should follow the lead of other wealthy countries, which have single-payer “Medicare For All” type healthcare systems.
Savage stated that she feels that implementing a Medicare for All type of healthcare system should be paid for by the Pentagon budget. She argued that the Pentagon is allocated 54% of the federal budget, which does not include the nuclear weapons development that is hidden in the energy budget or veterans’ services. She claims that it is more like 70% of the federal budget that is used for military-related activities, and she feels that this money would be more efficiently spent on healthcare or defeating the climate crisis.
“I believe that the greatest security threat to all of us, at this point in history, is climate change. By giving so much money to the Pentagon and its contractors, the Pentagon is the biggest polluting organization on the planet in terms of greenhouse gases,” Savage stated.
Savage added that she feels that a portion of the Pentagon’s budget should be used to address the climate emergency by emphasizing a Green New Deal.
“[We could be] building things that we actually need here in Maine, like a commuter rail system, to get us out of our cars, like solar panel systems, offshore wind and sustainable energy systems that are local — where we produce the energy, [and use it to share] with our neighbors and our communities and where we have control over how we are making and are using energy,” Savage argued.
Savage prides herself in being independent from bipartisan politics, but also noted that she faces a challenge running for Senate as a Green party candidate.
With 41,000 registered Green party members in Maine, and eight times more Democrats and seven times more Republicans, Savage must gather 2,000 signatures by March 15 to get on the ballot. She hopes to make it through the primary and attempt to unseat the incumbent, Sen. Susan Collins.
Savage is from Solon, Maine. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Bowdoin College and graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a master’s degree in education. For more information about Lisa Savage or to donate to her campaign, visit her website lisaformaine.org.