A hidden message

Maine_Capitol_Building_ba9aaba7950196e822e4_1My friend Alan Caron has some sage advice that each and every newly elected member of the Maine Legislature should read.

Alan’s column regulary appears in the Portland Press Herald, and an excerpt of his latest piece  ( Last election had a hidden message for Maine’s leaders) can be found here:

“Given the many challenges Maine faces today, nothing is more critical to our future than a nonpartisan, commonsense economic plan.

We’re a small state with limited dollars that’s in bad need of new economic energy. We spend more on government, as a percentage of our incomes, than just about any other rural state in America.”

If you want to read the full piece, you can find it here.

Just another new kid in town

Nate Wadsworth

Nate Wadsworth

Last week, I introduced two new legislators who are both Democrats from Biddeford.This week, we take a trip to the other side of the political aisle and the town of Cornish to meet Nathan Wadsworth, a young man who has been an acquaintance of mine for almost a decade. Nathan’s father, Jack, owns and operates Wasdsworth Woodlands, a family owned and operated company. I first met Nate and his dad while working various stints in the Natural Resources Building at the Fryeburg Fair year.

Now, the younger Wadsworth will be spending much of his time in Augusta as yet another rookie legislator.

He was gracious enough to answer my short survey about his hopes and goals for the next legislative session.

What are your top three priorities as a freshman legislator?

1) Vote for our economy first, especially any legislation affecting jobs, growth and taxes

2) be visible with my new constituents by attending functions in my five towns.

3) figure out how I can help best.

What is the most serious issue facing the state of Maine?

Currently, our economy is the biggest issue facing [the state]. The governor has brought us back from the abyss but there is still a lot more work to do.

What, if anything, can the Legislature do about it?

The legislature can do a lot about this issue with bills focused around tax relief, energy policy and job growth.

Do you support limiting the number of bills that a legislator can submit during a session?
I’m new to the process here so I’m not sure if the number of bills need to be limited. I do know if someone has 30 bills they internalize those costs by trying to promote all of them and it would be a difficult job. If were still in session in July then I will probably say there should be a limit.

How important will bipartanship be during the upcoming session?

Cooperation is going to be everything with a very evenly divided legislature. I have libertarian leanings so I should be able to find common ground with the other side of the aisle.

 

We were only freshmen

Democrats in Maine and across the country took a drubbing during last week’s elections, but there were a few bright spots, including the city of Biddeford, where State Senator David Dutremble easily fended off a challenge by Republican James Booth; and where two political newcomers held their party’s seats in the Maine Legislature.

In fairness, it’s not especially hard for Democrats to win elections in Biddeford.

In the western part of the city, voters overwhelming chose Ryan Fecteau over Republican Debbie Davis to represent them in the House of Representatives, holding the seat that is currently occupied by Democrat Paulette Beaudoin, who was barred from running again by term limits.

And Democrat Martin Grohman easily won a three-way race in the central part of the city to hold onto the seat that is now held by Megan Rochelo.

Fecteau and Grohman will both be sworn into office in December, joining several other freshman legislators from both sides of the political aisle.

We asked Fecteau and Grohman to tell us about their priorities. The following are their un-edited e-mail responses.

Ryan Fecteau

Ryan Fecteau

Ryan Fecteau

What are your top three priorities heading into your freshman year?

1. Focusing on ways to encourage and support the return of young people to Maine and also retain those that are still living here/going to school here.
2. Pulling Maine out of nearly dead last (currently 49th) as it concerns homes heated by natural gas (only 4 percent of Maine households) – careful attention to seniors who are especially vulnerable of fluctuating energy costs.
3. Pushing to fund education at 55 percent as mandated by voters. Currently, the failure to meet this mandate pushes the burden to the hyper-local level: property tax payers.
What do you think is the most serious issue facing the state of Maine?
Losing young people and families to neighboring states. Thus losing a skilled work force (in turn deterring businesses from locating here), future entrepreneurs, innovators, and a means to expanding the tax base.
What can the Legislature do, if anything, about that issue? 
We must set ourselves from neighboring states by providing incentive to move to Maine. Whether it be a program to assist in paying off student loan debt or creating /funding incubators for the creation of start-ups, the programs must be aggressively advertised across the country. Young people are burdened by student loan debt, they are mobile, and they are looking for opportunities!
Would you favorably consider a bill that would limit the number of bills a legislator could introduce?
I am not sure. Have not experienced or heard of any troubles with the number of bills introduced. The length of the legislative session is obviously a tight window for presenting and passing legislation; it would seem understandable for there to be a density of legislation despite the number of legislators. More focused on legislation that will positively impact people.
How important is bipartisan cooperation going to be during the next session?
It will be critical. Folks did not cast votes on Tuesday for gridlock; they voted their frustrations. They want results. A do-nothing legislature, gridlocked by partisanship, will not deliver the results that people are looking for. We need legislative leadership from both parties who are willing to work together for the best interests of Mainers.

Martin Grohman

Marin Grohman

Marin Grohman

What are your top three priorities heading into your freshman year?

Probably just to do the best job I can to represent Biddeford well.  Residents are interested in property tax relief, road and bridge infrastructure, and education.  And of course I’m a business guy – I want to see businesses grow, careers grow.

What do you think is the most serious issue facing the state of Maine?
I’m really interested in expanding access to health care.  Let’s think about a hypothetical parent, a single parent, mother of four, let’s call her Linda Smith.  Now if we cut her off of health care, you might think we’ve saved the State money.  But if she shows up at the ER, one of her kids shows up at the ER, we’re all going to pay for that one way or the other.  And in a world of epidemics and communicable viruses like Ebola, I don’t think having sick people without access to health care is going to work.  Plus, denying access to health care for ideological reasons just doesn’t make business sense to me – as I said, I’m a business guy.  Anyone in the health care business will tell you getting ahead of the problem saves money.
What can the Legislature do, if anything, about that issue? 
Man, I have no idea!
Would you favorably consider a bill that would limit the number of bills a legislator could introduce?
Probably not – I’d have to study it.  I think coming up with rules and regulations in reaction to a single case or a moment in time tends to cause problems.  But I’m willing to listen.
How important is bipartisan cooperation going to be during the next session?
Look, I’m new.  I’m a rookie.  I’ve served on a lot of boards, done some fairly high level stuff, national, international.  But I’ll have to learn the ropes.  That said, I kind of doubt I’ll just cast every vote along party lines, and hopefully my colleagues will value my viewpoint as I value theirs.

My election predictions

With nine days remaining before the Nov. 4 midterms, I offer my predictions for several races here in Maine.

These are not necessarily the results I am hoping for, but they are the results I am betting on.

Common Cause CaseMaine’s Gubernatorial Race:

I am reluctantly calling it for Democrat Mike Michaud in a squeaker (41.6 percent); Republican Incumbent Paul LePage will garner 40 percent and Independent Eliot Cutler will round out the pack with 18.4 percent of the total votes cast for one of the three major candidates.

U.S. Senate Race

Incumbent Susan Collins will easily retain her seat with 61.3 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows (38.7 percent)

Maine CD 1

Incumbent Chellie Pingree (D) will breeze to victory with 68.4 percent of the vote in this three-way race. Independent Richard Murphy will pick up 19 percent; and Republican Issac Misiuk will get 12.6 percent.

Maine CD 2

In another three-way race, Democrat Emily Cain will pull out a razor-thin win, capturing 45.5 percent of the vote over Republican Bruce Poliquin (43 percent) and Independent Blaine Richardson (11 .5 percent).

Question 1 (Bear Referendum)

Once again, my prediction is that a referendum to change bear hunting practices by banning the use of bait, hounds and traps will fail just as it did in 2004.  YES (44 percent) and NO (56 percent)

In Biddeford

Here in my hometown of Biddeford, I believe Incumbent Democrat David Dutremble will hold onto his senate seat with 68 percent of the vote against Republican challenger James Booth (an Independent two years ago).

In the State House District 11 race, I also predict political newcomer Ryan Fecteau (D) will trounce his Republican opponent Debbie Davis in a landslide, 78 – 22.

In the State House District 10 race, Democrat Marty Grohman will easily win his first bid for office (58 percent) over perennial candidate Perry Aberle (R) (22 percent, and Independent Barbara Thompson (20 percent).

Why I’m voting for Eliot Cutler

Eliot-Cutler-630x421I have many friends on both sides of the political aisle, and they undoubtedly will chastise me for supporting a gubernatorial candidate that is trailing in the polls.

But polls are just polls, and a growing number of my friends are growing disillusioned by the two political parties and their candidates.

It’s time for a change.

For more than 30 years, I have been an active voter. In 1982, I supported Republican Sherry Huber. Four years later, I did a bit of volunteer work for Bill Diamond’s campaign to capture the Democratic nomination.

In the years that followed, I never missed an election. But I did miss feeling the passion of voting for a candidate, not against a another candidate. I spent those roughly 30 years feeling rather uninspired, somewhat hollow.

True, I did not vote for Eliot Cutler in 2010. But I cannot, in good conscience, make that mistake again.

I have been on the fence for several weeks. I have met and spoken with all three candidates. They all have strengths and weaknesses, but only Eliot rises above the fray.

While Governor Paul Lepage and Congressman Mike Michaud continue sniping at each other, Cutler has focused on his vision for Maine: a vision that runs right down the middle, on a parallel course with common sense.

But what really sealed the deal for me was something that happened a couple of weeks ago at an energy forum in Portland.

You’ve probably read about what happened at the E2Tech forum in the newspaper, but as one of roughly 300 paying audience members it was one of the most awkward experiences I can recall.

LePage refused to sit at the same table with the other candidates. LePage, in fact, left the event and sulked in the parking lot.

Grown men acting like children and refusing to sit at a table together. That’s not leadership.

That’s boorish.

Michaud ran through a set of talking points; answered a few questions and then was off to do important things (the event was not designed nor intended to be a debate). Michaud supporters say he arrived at 8:30 because that’s when he was scheduled to speak. So the audience waited 30 minutes in silence, staring at an empty stage because LePage forfeited his 8 a.m. speaking time.

With somber dignity and clarity, Cutler began his remarks by apologizing to the audience. He later drew a round of laughter from the crowd when he said it’s simply not good enough to say that you are better than the other guy.

When asked a question about natural gas expansion by an environmental advocate, Eliot gave an answer that she did not like. In essence, he said that there are no perfect solutions; that Maine cannot afford simplistic thinking on energy issues or any other issue; that reality must drive how we lead.

I was impressed by his honesty, integrity and wisdom. He wasn’t willing to tell her what she wanted to hear (which would have been the popular path). Instead, he laid out a vision and a plan that acknowledges the very real challenges that so many Maine families are facing when it comes to heating their homes.

Eliot Cutler is a different kind of candidate. He has unmatched and proven experience in job creation, and he is the only candidate who continues to put forth detailed policies and plans to invest in infrastructure and education and to use tax dollars more efficiently.

He is the only candidate not beholden to political parties or special interests. He has not and will not accept money from PACs or special interests. Translation: you won’t see as many television commercials.

I believe Eliot is the right candidate to bring people together in search of common solutions.

For too long, political divisiveness in Augusta has overshadowed the real needs of real Maine families.

It’s time to end the boogeyman scare tactics of voting for so and so means so and so will win.

It’s time for vision. It’s time for integrity. It’s time for common sense.

It’s time for Eliot Cutler.

Learn More

 

Your Prediction?

Ryan Fecteau

Ryan Fecteau

Which candidate do you think will win the Democratic Party’s nomination for Biddeford’s Dist. 11 Maine House seat?

David Flood

David Flood

Two for the show

Ryan Fecteau

Ryan Fecteau

Of the 151 seats in the Maine House of Representatives, only 19 of them will offer a primary option for voters on June 10.

One of those 19 Primary Election challenges is taking place right here in Biddeford, and I know both of the Democrats who are battling for their party’s favor.

Of course, since this is Biddeford, a city that consistently sends a Democrat to Augusta, at least in this central district, whichever candidate wins on June 10 will most likely be able to coast comfortably onward to Freshman Orientation Day at the Statehouse.

This evening (May 22) Ryan Fecteau and David Flood will participate in a televised debate that will be held in the Little Theater at Biddeford High School.

I will be live Tweeting from the event, but I encourage my fellow voters in Biddeford to attend and learn more about the candidates.

Expect Fecteau to lean toward progressive themes and talk about youth and new energy. Expect Flood to talk about his succesful business experience and moderate views.

Fecteau has been running a visible and strong ground game. It’s not yet clear where Flood’s campaign has been over the past few weeks.

David Flood

David Flood

Added Bonus: Former Mayor Joanne Twomey will be in attendance, rooting for Fecteau. Now, there’s a reason to vote for Flood!