DEMOCRAT Everett “Brownie” Carson speaks Tuesday at Thornton Oaks Retirement Community in Brunswick.

DEMOCRAT Everett “Brownie” Carson speaks Tuesday at Thornton Oaks Retirement Community in Brunswick.

BRUNSWICK

Two candidates for state Senate District 24, seeking to replace termed out Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, met at Thornton Oaks Retirement Community on Tuesday to present their positions to voters.

Vying for the Brunswick Democrat’s seat are Democrat Everett “Brownie” Carson and Republican Tristam Coffin. Neither of the two candidates have served in the Legislature.

Coffin, who spoke first, highlighted his commitment to lower taxes and simplifying government. One example of how government gets in the way of individuals instead of helping them is on environmental regulations, said Coffin.

REPUBLICAN Tristam Coffin speaks Tuesday at Thornton Oaks Retirement Community in Brunswick.

REPUBLICAN Tristam Coffin speaks Tuesday at Thornton Oaks Retirement Community in Brunswick.

Coffin expressed concerns that the onus is on business owners to prove that they are following current Maine Department of Environmental Protection codes, increasing the cost of doing business in Maine. Instead, said Coffin, the burden should be on the state to show that a person should not be able to use their property in the way they desire.

“My biggest issue with the current environmental laws that we have is the fact that the burden of proof for getting a permit from the DEP is on the individual — versus DEP proving that individual should not conduct an activity in a certain area,” said Coffin. “They have to fund research, they have to do all this. It’s not on the state, it’s on the individual, which makes Maine an unattractive area to do it.”

When asked what the state can do about bringing quality jobs to Maine, Carson emphasized that education and training were key to attracting jobs to the state. Maine’s workforce needs the skills that make them attractive to businesses, whether that be tailored education programs or retraining, he said.

“We as a community, as a state, as an educational system, really ought to do our level best for men and women who’ve worked in the paper industry or other industries that have fallen on hard times to offer them retraining and to make sure that they can stay in the communities where they’ve worked and lived and raised their children,” said Carson.

Ballot questions

Both candidates addressed the ballot questions, taking opposing sides.

Whereas Coffin spoke favorably of legalizing recreational marijuana under Question 1, Carson voiced his concerns and opposition. On Question 2, which would raise funds for local schools through a 3 percent surcharge tax on incomes more than $200,000, Carson came out in favor while Coffin opposed. Coffin, an avid marksman, opposed Question 3 on universal background checks, which Carson supported. On raising the minimum wage and ranked choice voting, Carson expressed the pros and Coffin expressed the cons. Both candidates favored the bond question which would help fund state infrastructure repairs.

Showing respect

Despite their differences on policy, both candidates expressed respect for each other and stressed the need for a bipartisan approach to government.

“I never expected to have an opponent in politics where we can be civil with each other, we can have conversations with each other,” said Coffin. “That’s what we need to do in Augusta — that’s what we need to do in all levels, not just Augusta. And if we can act like humans to each other, we can come up with real solutions instead of partisan solutions.”

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