To the editor:
My name is Sumner “Ricky” Richards IV and I own S. Fernald’s Country Store, a small family-run sandwich shop located in downtown Damariscotta.
I support a yes vote on Question 4 and hope you will too. Let me start by making it clear that I believe a yes vote will have its challenges. As a small-business owner, I will have to work hard and make sacrifices to work alongside others to raise wages across the board. What has brought me around on this issue is the sure truth that Mainers cannot live on the current minimum wage. Our friends and neighbors deserve more than this, and we must vote to raise the bar for everyone.
I know that it is nearly impossible to afford basic necessities working 40 hours a week on minimum wage. Mainers working full time at $7.50 per hour are earning $300 per week, and often cannot afford to pay rent, buy groceries and health care, or support their families.
Many here in our own community and beyond are struggling to keep up with the cost of basic living. This is our chance to look adversity in the eye and show that we as Mainers are proud people and care about each other’s way of life. Now is the time we should accept $7.50 is simply not enough to make ends meet.
I am thankful for the opportunities and resources that, paired with hard work, led me to my own business. I care deeply for those less fortunate. I want other Mainers to have the same opportunities to realize their own version of the American dream. Raising the minimum wage is one way to produce equity of opportunity.
That’s why I support the referendum this November to raise Maine’s minimum wage. It will increase the minimum wage from the current $7.50 per hour up to $9 in 2017 and $1 per year until it reaches $12 per hour in 2020. After that it would connect the minimum wage to the cost of living and would also phase out the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.
The Maine Small Business Coalition and the owners of close to 600 small businesses like mine support this referendum. You can see the whole list at mainesmallbusiness.org. Please join me in voting Yes on Question 4 on Nov. 8.
Sumner “Ricky” Richards IV