To understand a candidate’s desire to run for a political position, it’s important to know why the person joined the race.
In 2015, Bre Kidman had lots of questions for Senator Susan Collins about a proposed bill, but she never got to see the senator.
A simple response from Collins’ office stating “she has a lot to think about” was the motivation Kidman said she needed to start her campaign run.
“I‘m a median income Mainer who doesn’t have rich friends. I don’t know a lot of people who can give me a lot of money to run for office, and if that’s the one thing from stopping me from being electable, well then that’s not good enough. That cuts out at least half of the population from being able to speak our own concerns,” said Kidman.
For Betsy Sweet, 37 years of being an advocate is enough experience to take on any challenge.
Some of her accolades include raising the minimum wage, being involved in the Family Medical Leave Act and helping with domestic violence and sexual assault funding.
She said her experience has given her the qualities of a leader to work on things which people say are too hard or too impossible.
“I‘m running for the United States Senate because I think we’re in trouble, Sweet said. “We have a lot that we have to do, and yet with every danger, we all know how hard it is, losing jobs, all of that, but with every danger there’s also opportunity. And I think this is a moment when we are actually ready to make bold changes.”
Kidman and Sweet join Maine’s Speaker of the House Sara Gideon competing for the U.S. Senate seat.
Neither Kidman nor Sweet believe the federal government has done enough so far to help Americans during the pandemic.
“People in the United States by and large got a $1,200 check and a ‘good luck,’ and I think that’s a direct result of a system that I’m fighting against,” said Kidman.
“I think the fact that we have had no national coordinated response is an incredible failure of both this administration and the national government,” Sweet said. “We could have gotten through this much easier.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody, the nation demands change and some of this change revolves around the system in which law enforcement officers operate.
“If this issue could have been solved through discussion or through some sort of mediated means, it would have been solved by now,” said Kidman. “This has been going on for a very, very, very long time. If we could train this away from policing, then it would have been trained away, and I say that as someone who is the child of a police officer.”
Sweet vows to end programs such as one allowing police access to military style equipment.
“As a U.S. Senator, there’s three things I would do right away,” said Sweet. “One is to end the Qualified Immunity Program, I would end the 1033 Program, and the third thing is we have to have a national oversight board for police homicides and to keep a registry.”
Another change in the conversation revolves around defunding the police. Sweet said she wants to see the money go towards community safety and mental health services.
“The whole idea of defunding the police is for us to rethink public safety and what does it mean for our communities to be safe,” said Sweet. “Having an armed officer show up when someone is having a mental health crisis does not promote safety.”
Kidman said she wants to see the money put into the necessary social services.
“So we need to look at solutions that do help people get to a better place than they were when they started in crisis and we need to look at solutions that are responsive to the needs of our society,” said Kidman. “I think with policing unfortunately we are taking a sledgehammer to a scalpel issue.”
When asked about why the people should give their vote, Sweet believes she’s a candidate who shows what she can do, rather than attacking her other contenders.
“We have to say what we are going to do and what we are going to put forward, not just say the other person is terrible. That is my history. That is who I am. That is my life, and I‘m really anxious to take Maine voices to Washington,” said Sweet.
Kidman said she believes in the big picture and her candidacy run can shape what happens next.
“A first choice vote for me changes the system, regardless of whether or not I win. I‘m the only candidate in this race who hasn’t taken a single dime from any PACs,” said Kidman. “I think that in order to build a path for representation that’s genuinely representative, we have to start here.”
Kidman and Sweet will face off against Sara Gideon on July 14, when voters will decide who will run against Republican U.S. Senator Susan Collins in the fall.