October 10, 2010

Reformer and outsider wants shot at Augusta

Independent Kevin Scott says his achievements in tiny Andover have prepared him to handle the challenges of the entire state.

By Scott Monroe smonroe@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

It was pouring rain Wednesday afternoon as Kevin Scott rushed into the McKernan Hospitality Center at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.

Kevin Scott

click image to enlarge

Kevin Scott speaks recently in a debate at the Fairfield Community Center.

Michael G. Seamans/Kennebec Journal

CANDIDATE ON THE ISSUES

Economy: Make Maine “the most business-friendly state in the country” by reaching out to states that lead in business growth such as Virginia and South Carolina; and create a robust year-round agriculture economy by mandating local foods are used in K-12 schools, while setting up a state revolving loan fund with low interest rates to start-up food production facilities.

State budget: Create a voluntary 32-hour workweek for state employees and a pilot “results-oriented work” program in which state employees are tasked with completing assignments.

Health care: Establish a “Maine Health Care Bond” to provide public funding for “private, innovative start-up companies and physicians” who charge for care based on “actual cost for service”; and more healthful foods in public schools, as a result of the local foods program, “will lead us in the right direction toward changing long-term health care costs.”

Education: Retool local school curriculums and funding away from federal standards, while increasing state education funding by reducing the cost of government.

• Energy: Revisit regional electricity contract to lower energy costs; and provide incentives for families and businesses to replace conventional, inefficient energy use.

Social issues: Propose a law that “ensures we are protecting all Maine people equally”; work with legislators “to create a casino gambling law that places Maine’s best interest at the forefront of legal gambling.”
 

PROFILING THE CANDIDATES

This is the fifth in a series of profiles of Maine’s gubernatorial candidates.

9/12: LIBBY MITCHELL-D
9/19: PAUL LEPAGE-R
9/26: ELIOT CUTLER-I
10/3: SHAWN MOODY-I
TODAY: KEVIN SCOTT-I

He peeled off an orange raincoat he was wearing over his suit and greeted the six students who had come to hear him speak. Scott apologized for being 20 minutes late, having just come from a radio interview, and asked what was on the students' minds.

For the next hour, Scott mixed explanations of issues with humor, policy proposals, jabs at the media for not giving him "equal coverage" and personal appeals to each student. He asked them to tell their friends that he's the only candidate for governor offering innovative, original ideas on how to retool state government and address Maine's future prosperity.

Scott, 42, an Andover resident running as an independent, said he would bring a problem-solving, analytical approach; he's someone from "outside the system" who would rely on the public, legislators and professionals for help because "I'm not afraid to acknowledge somebody else has the best answer."

Scott said he's spent just $18,000 on his campaign and relied on volunteers.

"You people are the people I want advice from; you're original thinkers," Scott said. "I'm a solution-action person. I don't want to be a politician. I want to be the chief executive of a corporation that needs business sense."

He supports the use of medicinal marijuana under certain circumstances; penalties other than jail time for nonviolent criminal offenders; a huge investment in creating a year-round, thriving agricultural economy; and a casino in western Maine.

Also, he's a snowboarder.

"I am you guys -- period. That is what makes the establishment nervous," Scott said. "I'm going to work to expose what's wrong."

Polls suggest Scott will finish last in the field of five -- recent surveys commissioned by MaineToday Media put him at between 0 and 1 percent -- although Scott points out that he wasn't even included in early polls and says he's seeing ballooning support from people as he drives to all corners of the state.

The most recent poll conducted by Critical Insights put Democrat Libby Mitchell at 30 percent, Republican Paul LePage at 29 percent, independent Eliot Cutler at 9 percent and independent Shawn Moody at 5 percent.

But don't count him out, say Andover residents who know him.

"He has as good a chance as anybody," said Jan Bowman, who owns the Little Red Hen Diner in Andover, which is in a building that Scott owns.

Bowman said Scott allowed her restaurant to operate "rent-free" for a year after opening last year, so she could get on her feet. "He helped me a lot. We started with hardly nothing.

"Some people won't come in here because they don't like him; it's small-town politics," she continued. "I think he dug up a lot of stuff people didn't like dug up."

'I KNEW I COULD DO BETTER'

Scott grew up in a working-class neighborhood in the town of Mexico, overlooking the paper mill.

His father, Elwin, is retired from the Oxford Paper Co. mill, where he worked in the yard grading the quality of logs. Elwin "Scottie" Scott is also a World War II veteran who served with the Marine Corps in the South Pacific. Scott's mother, Verna, worked for 31 years as a certified nurses aide in the maternity ward of Rumford Community Hospital, on an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.

Elwin and Verna Scott now own Main Street Antiques in Yarmouth.

They had six children, three boys and three girls. Kevin Scott's siblings include Elwin Scott Jr., who owns Simard & Sons in Lewiston; Glen Scott, a fisherman; Victoria Oakes, a basket weaver; Kathleen Scott, owner of American Dream Realty in Scarborough; and Kelly Rickert, human resources and benefits manager at Shenandoah University in Virginia.

(Continued on page 2)

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