Fellow citizens, we must take politics seriously this year!

Four years ago the Supreme Court issued a decision that allowed huge increases in the cost of elections. The Citizens United v. FEC decision is well known and understood by all voters with a modicum of interest in politics, and it will be of great interest to all voters in 2014. This is not a presidential election year, but all OUR representatives at national, state, and municipal levels have to ask for voter support at the ballot box this year.

The question is whether they will seek this support in fair and transparent campaigns or whether campaigns will be dominated by Big Money, sometimes called Dark Money and also known as SuperPacs. Following the trend of the last several elections, we will experience the second way.

But we must resist!

In 1996 Maine voters approved the citizen initiative that led Maine to be the first state in the nation to enact a Clean Elections law. Yet the Supreme Court has put a halt to the spread of clean elections in the nation, and we must resist this trend by renewing and strengthening the1996 Maine Initiative.

Maine Citizens for Clean Elections (MCCE), the advocacy group formed in 1996, has continued since then to monitor elections and inform the public. On Tuesday, January 21 (the fourth anniversary of Citizens United), MCCE will hold a press conference at the State House - first, to present a new citizens' initiative to keep the Maine Clean Elections law, and second, to announce a way to observe and participate in the election campaigns this year.

We are reminded also, and most importantly, that citizen resistance in the aftermath of Citizens United led to the Maine State Legislature issuing a directive to our representatives in Washington to reverse the trend of Big Money with a constitutional amendment.

The resolution directs "the United States Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to reverse the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission."

This Resolution was passed by Maine's House of Representatives on April 30, 2013 - with 111 yeas and 31 nays. In the Senate, it was 25 yeas and 9 nays. (This resolution did not require the governor's approval or denial.) Maine was the 13th state to pass this resolution in a movement across the country. Senator King and Representatives Pingree and Michaud have signed on to this letter. Senator Collins did not respond, as far as I know.

We should ask Senators King and Collins, Representatives Pingree and Michaud what attention they have given to the proposals currently before both houses of Congress, calling for a "28th Amendment" or other correction to the Supreme Court damage to the one-person/one-vote constitutional tradition, since they received this directive from the Maine Legislature. We need to know whether they have taken or intend to take any action.

We must also encourage those who seek to be elected to the State Senate or House to run with the Maine Clean Elections system. The filing date is soon approaching.

And we must ask those seeking the governorship or federal office to run clean and fair elections by, for instance, not accepting out-of-state SuperPac money. Further, we should ask if they will, once in office, take on the work of the Maine Legislature directive of 2013 in joining the Congressional efforts to reverse the damaging results to our democracy of the Citizens United decision.

Carmen Lavertu, Thomaston