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Hillary Clinton backs Portland referendum question

The former Secretary of State will appear in a social media ad campaign for One Fair Wage Portland in support of Question D.

PORTLAND, Maine — We're less than two weeks away from Election Day, and one Portland ballot question is receiving support from a national figure.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will appear in a new video advertisement urging Portland voters to support Question D. 

"I think it gives a credibility that this isn't something that was dreamed up in some corner office, that this is a national movement," Rep. Mike Sylvester, D-Portland, said. Sylvester also serves on the national One Fair Wage board and supports Question D.

"This is a mainstream movement happening all over the country, people recognizing that tipped workers and other workers need more to live," Sylvester said. 

Question D was brought about through a citizen-initiated referendum conducted by the Maine Democratic Socialists of America. It looks to raise the minimum wage to $18 by 2025, eliminate the sub-minimum wage or tip credit, and create a city Department of Fair Labor to enforce it. 

"One of the biggest concerns we find is what does happen, what happens if Question D passes," Joshua Chaisson, a long-time server in Portland, and member of Restaurant Industry United, a ballot question committee working to urge voters to vote no on Question D.

"This is really complex policy, and it belongs in the hands of lawmakers like our council, as opposed to a referendum question when the unintended consequences are really dire," Chaisson said.

Some of the things Chaisson fears with an increased minimum wage and the elimination of a tipped wage would be a drop in wages. He believes customers could be inclined to tip less. The server also fears a loss of jobs in the service industry due to increased automation. 

But Sylvester believes, if passed, Question D could increase the workforce for service jobs in Portland with a consistent paycheck.

"When they have a wage, then they want to come to work. And one of the biggest problems in Portland is finding workers," Sylvester said. 

Question D is one of 13 ballot measures Portland voters will see. You can learn more about those questions here.

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