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Maine Lighthouse

Maine's Top Issues in 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

2 min read
Maine Lighthouse
Good Party Politics Team · Jan 23, 2024

The 2024 Maine election season is close at hand, and the results will have a big impact on the state's future. Every partisan, third-party, and independent candidate and voter will have to make critical decisions about a variety of statewide issues that will influence their lives and communities. These concerns include education, healthcare, economics, the environment, social justice, and the fair distribution of Maine’s voter resources.

This guide will walk through the top issues facing Maine voters and candidates across the state, plus the top issues affecting Maine’s largest cities:

Top Issues in Maine

There are various statewide challenges in Maine that need immediate attention and action. Some of the most critical Maine election issues include:


Nine percent of Maine's population was uninsured in 2020, making it one of the highest rates in the U.S. The COVID-19 pandemic also highlighted the weaknesses of the state's healthcare system, particularly in rural areas. Political candidates will need to address Maine’s access to affordable and high-quality healthcare, particularly for low-income and elderly populations. They should also promise to invest in the public health workforce and infrastructure.


Maine’s electoral issues facing the education system include low student success, the digital divide, funding gaps, and teacher shortages. Maine is ranked 34th in the country for education, with 46.6% of individuals holding a postsecondary degree. In the coming Maine election season, voters may want to elect candidates who can promise to improve educational quality and equity, raise teacher compensation and retention, provide enough funds and resources for schools, and promote digital access and literacy.


The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted Maine's economy, resulting in a fall in hospitality, tourism, and retail. The state's unemployment rate increased to 9.4% in May 2020, its highest level since 1976. While the unemployment rate has since dropped to 3% (as of November 2023), long-term economic issues remain a concern in the 2024 Maine election season. These issues include a lack of diversity, an aging labor force, and a reliance on natural resources. In the coming years, the state will have to support the economy's resilience and recovery, innovate and diversify its sectors, and attract and retain younger workers.


Maine is an environmentally sensitive state, utilizing renewable energy sources, reducing its emissions of greenhouse gasses, and enforcing strict environmental restrictions. However, the state also remains vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which include extreme weather conditions, biodiversity loss, and rising sea levels. To resolve these electoral issues regarding the environment, the state must safeguard and conserve its natural resources, lessen its negative environmental impact, and adapt to changing climates.

Social Justice

In 2019, a publication by the Maine Office of the State Economist called the Pine Tree State “the least diverse state in the United States, with 94.4% of the population identifying as white alone.” However, residents within the state continue to experience social and racial injustices, including hate crimes, discrimination inside and outside the Maine political process, and inequality in healthcare, income, and education. Because of this issue, social justice, inclusivity, and the pursuit of diversity and equity will be important concerns during the 2024 elections.

Top Issues Facing Maine’s Biggest Cities

#1: Issues in Portland

Portland is the biggest and most populated city in Maine, having a population of 66,215 as of the last census. The city serves as the state's cultural and economic hub, with a thriving and diversified community. However, there are certain unique issues that need to be addressed in Portland, Maine:

Urban Development Challenges

Portland's rapid urban expansion provides benefits such as greater economic activity, cultural diversity, and housing supply. However, it also presents issues like homelessness, traffic congestion, gentrification, and pollution. To address these issues of urban development, political candidates in Maine will have to find a balance between the interests of various stakeholders while also ensuring that development is inclusive, equitable, and sustainable.


Portland's infrastructure needs repairs and upgrades due to its age. Besides the challenges caused by rapid urban expansion, this is one of the main issues facing Portland that should be discussed in the upcoming election season. The city's roads, public buildings, water systems, and bridges are decaying and insufficient to satisfy Portland’s present and future needs. 

Local Policies in Portland

Portland has passed and implemented various innovative and progressive local policies that ensure broader community development, including raising the minimum wage, declaring a climate emergency, and prohibiting the use of facial recognition technology in most government settings. However, despite the above city policies, there are still challenges to local governance, including budget balancing, police reform, and responding to the opioid crisis. Between 1997 and 2022, an estimated 6,100 Maine residents have died of drug overdoses, making the opioid crisis a pressing issue for the state’s largest city.

#2: Issues in Lewiston

Lewiston is Maine's second-largest city, with an official population of 36,225 according to the 2019 census report. Lewiston is also among the most multicultural and diverse places in the state, having a sizable and expanding immigrant and refugee community. There are various major challenges that need to be addressed in Lewiston in 2024:

Employment Issues 

A poorly performing economy is one of the biggest challenges facing Lewiston, Maine. The economy has been languishing for decades, with the city losing its manufacturing sector, which increased its employment issues. Layoffs, including those at St. Mary’s Health System, have further disrupted the local economy. The city is also unable to attract novel industries and enterprises. In February 2020, the employment issues Lewiston faced were indicated by an unemployment rate of 6.1%, which was higher than the statewide average of 3.2%.

To add to Lewiston’s challenges, the city also has a lower median family income of $39,402, as opposed to the statewide average of $58,924. This is one of the main reasons there hasn’t been the sizable economic growth Lewiston needs for its residents. To address these Lewiston Maine challenges and solve the employment issues Lewiston faces, the city needs to create and support more jobs, particularly for low-skilled and underprivileged individuals, while also promoting economic growth and creativity.


The Lewiston housing market is experiencing issues with affordability, housing quality, and availability. The city has a high rent burden, with 54.4% of renters paying over 30% of their annual salary on rent in 2019. There is also a low vacancy rate (3.3%) and a significant proportion of unsafe and substandard housing units. These concerns will need to be addressed by candidates running for local office in Lewiston in 2024.

Lewiston Community Development

Lewiston’s community is dynamic and diverse, with a rich history and heritage. However, the community has challenges of economic and social integration, particularly for immigrants and refugees. Due to the absence of economic growth in Lewiston, poverty, crime, and health issues are prevalent in the city, reducing citizens' quality of life and well-being. 

#3: Issues in Bangor

Bangor's population of 31,998 in 2019 makes it the third-largest city in Maine. It is also the regional hub for northern and eastern Maine, having a robust and diverse culture and economy. 

Economic Growth Challenges

Bangor's economy is diverse, with industries including tourism, retail, education, and healthcare driving growth. In February 2020, the city's unemployment rate was 3.5%, with a typical family income of $46,328. However, Bangor has experienced several economic issues, including a shortage of high-paying and high-tech jobs, reliance on service and seasonal industries, and competition from neighboring regions and cities. Encouraging and sustaining economic growth, and increasing the city's attractiveness and competitiveness, will be top priorities going into the 2024 elections.

Public Services 

Bangor has experienced challenges related to public services, including relating to transportation, police, fire, and sanitation. The city has a high degree of public satisfaction and service quality while keeping public service costs and debt to a minimum. However, as infrastructure continues to age and the community’s needs evolve, Bangor’s leaders will need to stay committed to maintaining sustainable and reliable public services.

Civic Participation 

Civic participation refers to the residents' involvement in public and political affairs through voting, organizing, and volunteering. Bangor has one of the highest levels of civic engagement Maine has had, as indicated by high voter turnout, vibrant civic engagement, and robust local media. However, issues including a lack of diversity and representation, polarization, and apathy among certain groups still exist.

How to Get Involved in Local Politics in Maine

Wherever you live in Maine, getting involved in local politics is a great way to make a difference in your community. You can get started engaging with local politics and government in a variety of ways:

  • Consider running for office. Do you have what it takes to step up and be the change Maine needs? Consider running for a local office, like mayor, city council, or school board, and become a powerful voice for your community. If you’re interested in exploring the possibility of running for office, check out Good Party’s free tools and support for candidates like you.

  • Register to vote. Get ready for the 2024 elections by making sure you are registered to vote, and then making a plan to get to the polls on election day!

  • Volunteer in your community. You might consider volunteering with a local organization, or with a national nonprofit like Good Party. We’re working to support people-powered, anti-corruption leaders in Maine and across the United States. Help us empower more independent voices!

However you choose to get involved, know that you’re making a real impact!

Photo by Savannah Rohleder on Unsplash


Civic Engagement
Campaign Messaging
Voter Education
Maine Lighthouse
By Good Party Politics Team
The politics team is focused on transforming the political landscape by promoting transparency, accountability, and positive change. They aim to engage citizens in the political process, encourage informed decision-making, and support candidates who prioritize the common good. Their mission revolves around creating a more fair and just political system, fostering collaboration, and breaking down traditional barriers of partisanship.