Students are asked to answer the call to vote often, but seldom see the reward for their effort. While other groups – namely older white adults – reap the benefits of their political participation, college students rarely see the promises made to them fulfilled. Trump’s attack on public universities included threats to defund schools whose teaching he disagreed with. Meanwhile, Joe Biden has utterly failed to cancel the student debt as he promised on the campaign trail.
University of Maine students’ apathy towards the national political process is understandable, but recent local election victories shaped by student turnout has seen tremendous success. Dr. Sonja Birthisel and Rob Larraway’s recent election to Orono’s Town Council was built off of momentum among student voters. This is momentum students can continue to foster by backing another dynamic, hope-inspiring local candidate: Mike Tipping.
Mike Tipping is a State Senate Primary Candidate running in District Eight, which the UMaine campus is a notable portion of. As a talented, progressive activist and Senior Strategist for the Maine People’s Alliance, Tipping is already a leader for change in the state. Tipping is a refreshingly qualified candidate with legitimate experience working in the world of politics. Despite this experience, this election is Tipping’s first foray into an elected position. His run doesn’t come from an inclination for influence, but from an earnest interest in helping everyday Mainers.
“You should never run for office to be somebody,” Tipping said in his campaign announcement video. “You should run to do something.”
Tipping’s resume backs that sentiment up. He was a spokesperson for the successful 2016 effort to raise the minimum wage in Maine, has testified for tribal sovereignty and served as one of the leaders that held a chemical company accountable for putting mercury in the Penobscot River’s water.
Along with his nuanced understanding of policy and issues is Tipping’s compassionate, straightforward approach to what he hopes to accomplish.
“I’m running because this is a critical time for us to come together to build a better future for families in small towns in Maine,” Tipping said. “Everyone should be able to go to the doctor without going bankrupt. Everyone should be able to find a good job to support their family. Our kids should be able to eat the fish from the river again.”
In addition to this important work, Tipping is the founder of the Beacon, Maine’s premier source for progressive news. No where is Tipping’s commitment to students more evident than when the Beacon exposed UMaine for secretly lobbying to suppress the rights of UMaine workers.
That ongoing commitment to fight on the behalf of students was displayed at the Mike Tipping Town Hall hosted by the UMaine College Democrats. The club hosted both candidates in the race, but it was clear that Tipping came out on top. Tipping knew as much, if not more, about the issues facing students than even the most informed members of the Town Hall. Tipping not only showed how informed was about these issues, but he also developed tangible proposals to how to fix the issues students face by making structural changes. After considering both candidates, the club decided unanimously to endorse Mike Tipping.
“He doesn’t just talk about fighting for students, he actually does it,” Orion Schwab, the president of College Democrats, explained. “The biggest thing for me is Mike Tipping is why we know that UMaine did the things they did with oppressing workers.”
The club treasurer, Jay Hutchings, shared a similar sentiment.
“With Tipping, you have years of [experience] … protecting students,” Hutchings said. Ultimately, you only know what a politician will do by looking at their record and enthusiasm.”
Tipping’s record and enthusiasm for student issues such as worker’s rights, fossil fuel divestment, LGBTQ rights, financial relief for students and poor families and abortion rights should provide a bright hope for UMaine students.
State Senate Primaries might not garner the attention that gubernatorial races do, but they are certainly not lacking in importance. This primary in particular is key. The Bangor Daily News has described the race as perhaps the biggest primary in the entire state. No where will your vote as a UMaine student be more proportionately valuable than in local elections such as this State Senate Primary. You are not one voice out of millions, you are one voice out of thousands on a politically influential campus. Students who live on campus can vote for Tipping by requesting an absentee ballot, while those who live in the area can vote for Tipping in person on June 14.
This upcoming election, vote for Mike Tipping: a candidate you can vote for not because you hate his opponent, but because you love his politics.