Present employment: Retired Merchant Marine, Maine State legislator
Highest level of education completed: B.A. and attended a master’s program in maritime management.
Previous elected public office(s) held: Chair of the Unity Area Regional Recycling Center, Chair of the RSU 3 School Board, Maine State legislator (six years).
Statement: When I retired from the U.S. Merchant Marine eight years ago, I was looking forward to finally being able to give back to my community through public service. Within the first year I joined the boards of the RSU 3 School District and the Unity Area Regional Recycling Center. When our State Representative decided not to run again, I threw my hat in the ring. I did that because I felt I could be even more effective in helping our community.
While in the Merchant Marine I worked for the National Science Foundation and its climatologists in every ocean. There is a climate crisis, and we need to address it. Our children deserve to grow up in a healthy world with access to affordable health care, shelter and education. As a legislator I’ve tried to help our state reach those goals. Through my green bank bill, I have led the movement for affordable renewable energy. I’ve sponsored bills on removing plastics from our landfills and have also been working on bills to protect our drinking water from PFAS. I feel I still have much to do and would appreciate the chance to return to Augusta.
What are your thoughts on proposals to do away with Maine’s income taxes?
The income tax is the fairest of all our taxes. Everyone pays their fair share according to their income. No one likes to pay taxes, but we need them to cover the services we all depend on. Our roads, our schools and many other services exist because we fund them through taxes. If you eliminate the income tax and you still expect the same level of services, you have to make up the differences with other taxes and fees. The first thing that happens is sales taxes go up, followed by property taxes and hunting licenses becoming more expensive.
When it comes to the state budget, what do you see as top priorities for spending or cuts?
The ongoing process of looking for redundancy in different state agencies helps to reduce the budget. In the Environment and Natural Resource committee, we transferred funds from a project that was no longer needed into money for PFAS removal. The state needs to come up with better ways to fund our roads and bridges and to continue to fully fund education. Also, the state needs to fully fund revenue sharing with our towns to help reduce property taxes. It is especially important that we make sure that there are social services available for Mainers in need.
How can Maine best make health care affordable for its citizens?
By finally funding Medicaid as Maine people had voted for. This has reduced medical costs for many low-income Mainers. An additional approach is to make sure we have the ability to compare the costs of procedures at different medical facilities. Before seeking medical treatment, it would be nice if the breakdown of costs were explained and this could be done by a statewide clearing house. Also, the state should encourage preventative care. In the long run this results in both better health and cost savings for our citizens.
What policy changes would you support to protect the environment and respond to climate change?
I would like to see the policies we have already instituted over the last four years be continued and strengthened. The governor’s Climate Council has provided direction, but it is the job of the Legislature to implement those suggestions. The different agencies need to look at climate modeling and prepare for rising water levels on the coast. Roads, buildings and any infrastructure that is within the projected areas of rising sea levels need to be part of a plan. We should be prepared for longer droughts and intensified weather events across the state. Also, as temperatures rise, we will have an increase in insect pests and stress on our fisheries. Cutting back on the use of fossil fuels will not only help reduce warming, but also reduce the illnesses associated with pollution.
Would you vote to support a woman’s right to obtain an abortion?
Yes, I support a woman’s right to make her own decisions regarding reproductive health.
What changes would you like to see in the way police do their jobs in Maine?
Transparency and community policing are always important because they strengthen ties between the people and the police. Our state should increase access to mental health programs that take care of individuals that the police are often left dealing with. In talking to a state police officer, I was told that we should make sure we have enough officers to cover the rural areas. Additionally, in our area of Waldo County we need to sufficiently fund the Sheriff’s Department to make our roa