FARMINGTON – Common sense, proven science and honesty would dictate environmental rules under his administration, Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage said Wednesday.

He said his position on the environment has been distorted by criticism from opponents that has included two television commercials financed by Democrats.

During a Franklin County Chamber of Commerce forum, attended by LePage and independent candidates Kevin Scott and Shawn Moody, LePage said he wants Democrat Libby Mitchell and independent Eliot Cutler, rival candidates who didn’t attend the forum, to hear his message.

“I wish my two other opponents were here so they could hear me once and for all address this issue,” LePage said at the University of Maine at Farmington. “We do not want to turn the clock back.”

Earlier this week, Mitchell launched her television ad campaign for the fall with a commercial in which she says, “Paul LePage wants to eliminate our environmental protections that keep our waters clean and our air pure.”

Two weeks ago, the Democratic Governors Association began running ads that say, “Tell Paul LePage his pro-nuke, pro-drilling policies are wrong for Maine.”

Wednesday’s forum featured questions from the audience that covered topics such as health care, school consolidation, the state budget and a new state law that seeks to regulate motorcycle noise. It was an early morning — and low-key — event.

Moody, a Gorham resident who founded Moody’s Collision Centers, described the health care reforms passed by Congress as “frightening” and said he was told to hire an attorney to interpret the new regulations for him.

“We’ve got to get on this health care crisis right now,” he said. “We did it with workman’s compensation, we can do it with health insurance.”

Scott, an Andover resident who runs a corporate recruiting company, said he would address the state’s budget crisis by allowing state workers to choose a 32-hour work week.

“What I find, and what’s motivating me to be in this contest, is we need some innovation,” he said. “We’ve got to get beyond this nonsense of conflict and party rule.”

LePage, the mayor of Waterville and general manager of Marden’s discount stores, said he has learned in both jobs to operate with small profit margins.

“I pledge to you, as your governor, that every one of my commissioners is not only going to be able to spell the word ‘profit,’ they are going to understand the definition of profit and they are going to understand ‘profit’ is not a bad word,” he said.

On the issue of regulating motorcycle tailpipe noise, the men agreed that it was something that could have been addressed without a new state law. The law that took effect in July makes it easier for law enforcement to cite vehicle owners for exhaust noise. It also will require inspection stickers for all motorcycles starting in 2012, and calls for a study group to report back to lawmakers next year.

Moody said it’s an example of why the legislative session should be shorter, which would help lawmakers prioritize what’s important and get back out into their home communities sooner.

Scott said a local solution would have been better.

“Where were the targeted issues with noise?” he said. “What could we do in those communities to address those problems?”

LePage said the bikers associations could have spoken to their members to address the issue.

“We have a government that’s been in power and control for 35 years,” he said. “That’s the problem. They don’t listen to the people, don’t want to listen to the people.” 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

scover@centralmaine.com