May 27, 2010

Scott envisions role as ‘a citizen governor’

Although Kevin Scott knows it won’t be easy to win the governor’s race as an independent candidate without deep political connections, he wouldn’t run any other way.

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Kevin Scott.

CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR

This is the 13th  installment in a series profiling candidates for governor. For more on the governor’s race, click on our resource page.

“I believe that, for too long, the governor’s office has been occupied by either an extremely wealthy individual or a career politician with extensive Washington contacts,” he said. “The legislators that we have – part-time, friends and neighbors – they need a peer.”

Scott turned in more than 4,000 valid voters’ signatures on May 21, qualifying for a place on the November ballot.

This spring, he has logged 3,500 miles around the state, he said, and is hearing a constant refrain from voters who are fed up with partisan politics and “the political class.”

He says Maine voters want a governor they can have confidence in as a successful businessman who remains approachable and has the capacity to work with state departments and agencies.

“Call it a citizen governor,” he said.

Scott runs a business that matches high-tech clients with various types of engineers for specific projects or as permanent employees. He started the business in 1998 and runs it with his wife in tiny Andover, where the biggest industry caters to Appalachian Trail hikers.

He grew up in the town of Mexico, then went to George Mason University in Virginia. He paid his way through college, he said, taking jobs in concrete construction and brick work, as a waiter, and conducting telephone surveys.

He has paid for his own campaign so far. Scott didn’t pay workers to gather qualifying signatures. He began accepting donations when he officially became a candidate last week, and received about $2,000 in the first two days, he said.

His campaign has cost him slightly more than $2,000 so far, and though he said he is prepared to spend significantly more, his fundraising goal is a modest $20,000 a month from now until the election.

“We’ve had people coming forward to donate money and I haven’t even been soliciting it,” he said.

Scott has minimal experience in politics and has never run a statewide campaign. He has served as an elected member of his town’s water district and was appointed to a three-year term on its planning board. He has also been elected moderator for two town meetings.

Scott said that accommodating people with various perspectives would be key to his governing.

“You have a movement on the right, you have a movement on the left, and Mainers would like someone who is a moderate thinker,” he said. “That’s how I’ve led my life, that’s how I’ve succeeded in my business, and that’s how I’ve succeeded in my local community – by building consensus among opposing groups.”

As governor, Scott said, he would seek to bring predictability in taxes and regulations for businesses, and a clear funding mechanism for education.

The goal of state funding for 55 percent of education costs, approved in a 2004 referendum, is an idea that isn’t working, he said.

“If our best solution is the state meeting 55 percent, and we haven’t yet achieved it, then we need to find a better best solution,” Scott said. “We should have competitive solutions in the mix.”

He said Maine should emulate other states that have met challenges such as lowering utility rates and raising the education level of their work forces to attract new businesses.

“It’s not that great an idea to sit in a room and try to figure out a solution while the answer’s out in the hallway,” he said.

While Scott was serving on the Andover Planning Board, he often approached Bethel’s town manager, Scott Cole, for advice.
Cole, now the Oxford County administrator, said Scott learned the ins and outs of local government quickly.

“Kevin is highly intelligent, energetic, and not bashful,” Cole said. “The kind of questions that he will ask need to be asked and not swept under the rug.”

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Ethan Wilensky-Lanford can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

ewlanford@mainetoday.com

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