PLACE OF RESIDENCY: Bowdoinham

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

PREVIOUS ELECTED EXPERIENCE: State Representative (Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Richmond), 2006-2014; House Majority Leader and House Majority Whip; Bowdoinham Selectboard, 2002-2006; Selectboard Chair, 2005

What is the biggest need your constituents are expressing as you speak with them while campaigning and how can the Legislature address this?

A stronger economy. There are lots of signs of hope, but mine is a relatively poor area and many have been left behind by the recovery.

This past year, I’ve talked to two seniors who had to choose between food, medicine and heat. I’ve talked to a young mother having to choose between child care and car repair so she can get to work. I’ve talked to a man struggling to keep his house from bank seizure, due to the Governor’s refusal to accept federal money for Medicaid. One fellow in my area just took his own life after being laid off at BIW.

How do we improve the economy? We raise wages, make the tax code fairer, and increase both educational opportunities and the safety net, so folks can climb the ladder higher and faster. We help small business, particularly with access to capital and the best possible workforce. And we embrace innovative ideas like the solar bill, which would have created 650 new jobs, but failed when my opponent and a few others hid in a partisan office.

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Second, we work together. When I served as House Majority Leader from 2012 to 2014, I led a select bipartisan committee on jobs that was able to put together a significant set of initiatives for higher ed, worker retraining, community college and research and development. Labor and business, Ds and Rs stood shoulder to shoulder in support. It passed overwhelmingly, and helped create new and better paying jobs.

There is no reason we can’t have one of the strongest economies in the nation. Mainers are a hardworking lot. We have a great brand as a state. We just need to work together and do it.

Are there areas to cut money from the state budget without cutting services to people who need them, and if so, where would you start cutting?

Yes.

The state spends money in two ways. It spends out the “front door,” meaning in programs and services. It also spends out the “back door,” meaning tax breaks and loopholes. It may sound surprising, but at present the state spends more out the back door than we do out the front.

Tax breaks and loopholes add up to more than the entire state budget, and more than twice what the state spends on K-12 education or on all health and human service programs.

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If every state tax loophole — exemptions, deductions, etc. — were eliminated, then the tax code would be dramatically simplified. Those with lawyers and lobbyists would not receive a better tax treatment than those who do not. And for all of us, tax rates would be less than half of what they are now.

What makes you the best candidate to serve in this office?

I am a stronger voice and a more reliable vote for those who do not have lobbyists in Augusta. I have more experience, I listen to and value constituents of all backgrounds, I offer both a small business and an education background, and I work across the aisle and get results.

I am honored to have the support of the following organizations in this election: the Maine Education Association, the Maine State Nurses’ Association, Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund, EqualityMaine, the Sierra Club, Maine State Employees’ Association — SEIU Local 1989, the Maine AFL-CIO, MPA Campaign Vote, Maine Conservation Voters, and the Maine Association of Social Workers. As a State Rep, I listen to all organizations and individuals and then take my cues from my conscience and from voters in my district.

I have also been honored by a number of awards in the past, for which I am very grateful. These include awards from the Maine Children’s Alliance, the Maine Development Foundation, Maine Conservation Voters, the University of Maine, the Youth Leadership Advisory Team, the Maine Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse, and the Maine Lung Association. I am equally honored by my awards from my teaching days, which included the Hexter Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Public Education Association.

My family is the reason for these qualifications. I am very lucky to have their example and support. With my wife Adelaida, I am also a parent of two wonderful teenage sons. They do an outstanding job of keeping me in my place, and I am grateful every day to have them in my life.


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