Ben Chin for Mayor in Maine


When I was fourteen, growing up in a quiet suburb, one of my neighbors went on a killing spree. In a single afternoon, three Asian Americans, an African American, and Jewish person were all dead. The murderer had written an explicitly white supremacist manifesto, and was convicted of nineteen charges of homicide, hate crimes, and arson. He sought out Asian Americans in particular, shooting up Asian groceries and a karate studio.

Most people think about Maine as a white state--but the suburb in which I grew up, where these murders took place, was far whiter than Lewiston. After the tragedy, I don't remember a single (white) adult reaching out to me to ask one simple question: do you feel safe? 

The answer, of course, was and is: "no."

Two years ago, when the racist signs went up during my first campaign, people asked me if I was surprised. Of course not. Like most people of color in America, by the time I entered adulthood, I needed to reconcile myself to a world where people who looked like me could be killed at any moment. 

In the late nineties, however, that kind of white supremacist violence was not given moral equivalency to peaceful protest by the President. Although I look back on my adolescence, wishing that adults expressed more concern over my safety, children this week have bigger worries. 

The chief authority figure of our country, showing complete disinterest in reassuring people of color, has instead fanned the flames. His statements--at best ambiguous, at worst an explicit wink to white supremacy--will forever shape how a generation of people of color feel about their country, their safety, and their bodies.

And we will persist.

Children deserve safety. Adults must be brave. After the news this weekend, I knocked on doors on Monday. And again the next night. And the night after that. Even though part of me would love to run away to some remote location and just hold my wife and kids, that is not what this moment demands, nor what will make my family safe.

What I am committed to doing, what I need from you, what we need from each other, is to stand up and be counted. This hatred has to stop. 

Please write to me and tell me one thing you are going to do to push backIt could be a difficult conversation with a friend or family member. It could be knocking on doors for the first time. It could be donating to the campaign--always a good idea!

I'm just asking that all of us do at least one thing differently this week that you wouldn't have otherwise. And then be public about it. Post it to your social media. Send it to me, and I'll do the same.

If you write back, I'd like to post what you are up to on my Facebook page. There is just so much bad news out there right now. We need more stories of resistance and hope. President Obama's tweet in response to Charlottesville, quoting Nelson Mandela, became the most liked tweet in history almost immediately. There's a reason for that.

Let's do our part.


P.S. If you'd like to reach out to a close friend or colleague of color, and you haven't done anything like that before, there's plenty of good advice online to check out, just to make sure you know how to do it in a way that's respectful. I'd recommend checking that out first. (Here's a good article to start, and here's another.)

This breaks my heart:

Androscoggin County has the third highest overdose rate in the state, with someone in Lewiston dying nearly every other week on average, mostly from opioids. Lewiston has twice as many overdose deaths as we should, given the size of our population.

I’ve talked face-to-face with more than 1,000 members of our community since March, and this is one of the things I hear about over and over and over again.

What’s really been frustrating: understanding the statistics, hearing so many tragic stories, and knowing that the city of Lewiston has done very little (if anything) to address the crisis. 

That’s why I’m launching the Belonging Agenda, my take on what Lewiston can be doing to tackle the opioid epidemic, substance use disorder, and mental health from a public health perspective. And it’s why I’m asking you to join me on Thursday to help spread the word.

It’s time—beyond time—for our city to act. Solutions are within our grasp. It’s a matter of leadership and political will, and that starts with us.

Can you join me next week on Thursday, August 3 for a special Day of Action around the Belonging Agenda? 

We'll meet at 4pm at 145 Lisbon Street in Lewiston, and then head out to talk with community members about the opioid crisis and what the city could be doing. We'll have pizza and a chance to debrief afterwards.

You can read the Belonging Agenda here, and sign up for the Day of Action here. My goal is that 10 people come. I really hope to see you there.


PS. We’re trying to spread the word about next Thursday as far as possible. Will you forward this email to a friend? Thank you so much!

First off, 

Thanks to everyone who donated last week...

We successfully hit our mid-way fundraising goal!
(You can still donate here if you haven’t yet.)

Next, you may have seen that one of Lewiston’s infamous slumlords scammed Heather, a low-income single mom, out of her entire life savings this week. Steve, Heather’s friend, reached out because he knows that we fight battles large and small for housing justice. He's set up a GoFundMe page and I think we should help them blow their goal out of the water!

No one should have to worry about where their kids are going to sleep at night. Please take a minute to chip in. It’ll show we are all in this together.
I’ve been getting questions about how folks can still help if they’ve reach our self-imposed $100 limit on contributions. One great way would be to donate to Heather!
And in case you’re wondering, it isn’t the first time we’ve heard about this sort of predatory behavior in Lewiston. But too often people are afraid or ashamed, and worry about telling their story to anyone. It’s brave for Heather and Steve to go public. They’re raising awareness, not just for their situation, but for everyone who has suffered this way. Let’s get their back.
Finally, we just kicked off the first of several campaign house party events last night! It was a great success, and we are going to continue doing these, neighborhood by neighborhood.  We've got the next few weeks lined up, but if you’d be up for hosting (or even just attending) shoot me back an email!
P.S. Anjali and I will see you at the art walk!
P.P.S. After the art walk, I’ll be going to a house party for Jonathan Fulford, a great guy who is thinking about running for Congress in Maine’s second congressional district, at 32 Waterview Dr. from 5:30-7. I’m sure he’d love it if you came too!


Copyright © 2017 Ben Chin, All rights reserved.
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16 Kensington Terrace
LewistonMe 04240

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