Employment: Self-employed farmer
Highest level of education completed: Bachelor’s degree
Previous elected public office(s) held: State House Representative District 95, in the 129th and 130th Legislatures
Statement: Politics in our state and country do not serve the people of my district. The parties spend their time attempting to make each one look better than the other. Politicians that are willing to put their voters ahead of any political agenda or ideology are few and far between. Being an independent gives me the chance to look beyond ideology to the needs of the people who I represent. I have been doing this work for the last four years, building bridges with my bills and my work in committee by supporting our correctional officers and staff, as well as working for the people living behind bars; and by looking out for small farms by reducing overregulation and conserving our environment. When we take the time to look beyond the issue, to the real people who are living in our communities, we can find real solutions. As long as we stay mired in the old tit-for-tat, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours party politics, we cannot move our state forward to address increasing costs of fuel, property taxes and food. I work hard as an independent and ask for your support in building politics that serve people, not the establishment.
What are your thoughts on proposals to do away with Maine’s income taxes?
If a manner of taxation is put forward that reduces the reliance on working people’s income, I would be happy to support it. However, if there is an attempt to push additional taxes onto our working families and senior citizens …through increased sales and property taxes while letting the rich pay less, that plan would just add to long-term inflation as we deplete our savings. That would be a losing proposition that helps people from away while taxing the working people living here.
When it comes to the state budget, what do you see as top priorities for spending or cuts?
In the current economic climate, we cannot increase taxes on our citizens. We need to make use of programs from the federal government to help older Mainers and young families with heating assistance and rising food costs. We are seeing addiction and associated crime soar …yet we are still throwing dollars at a police response to what is fundamentally a mental health issue. It costs tens of thousands of dollars annually to incarcerate one person, yet we have no beds available if someone says they want inpatient help to get off drugs. Incarceration at Long Creek costs hundreds of thousands annually per kid held there, but if a kid says they need help staying off of drugs, we don’t have the beds available… We have the money we need to divert people away from criminal activity. We need to think about how we spend the dollars we already have.
How can Maine best make health care affordable for its citizens?
There are fewer and fewer choices for private health care insurers in the state resulting in a near monopoly. We need to lower the barriers to other providers so they can come to the state to compete. Prescription health costs continue to soar. We have taken incremental steps to tie the price of some of the most-used medications to prices in Canada, with laws we passed in this past Legislature, and we need to continue that process to bypass the choke-hold that pharmaceutical companies have on our senior citizens by setting up programs to get medications from Canada at better prices. There continue to be major billing issues with our large medical providers and getting on-time payments from insurers.
What policy changes would you support to protect the environment and respond to climate change?
In these times of unprecedented drought, we are all feeling the pinch as our residential wells go dry, and farmers scramble for irrigation water. Continuing the “Maine Won’t Wait Plan” by the Maine Climate Council, which achieves carbon neutrality by 2045, makes sense. Within that plan, Maine has just begun a program to protect healthy agricultural soils and sequester carbon. Programs that help support good farming practices and can become a source of income for them are the right direction to help struggling farmers and get carbon out of our atmosphere. This program also helps our forestry industry sequester carbon and build stronger markets for our sustainably harvested timber.
Would you vote to support a woman’s right to obtain an abortion?
I do not want to put any person in the position of choosing abortion, nevertheless, I have always supported medical freedom and the right of any person to make choices for their own body. The direction some states are going of forcing women to carry pregnancies to term in the case of rape or incest or being forced to make the choice between their own health and the pregnancy, are not ones that I feel, as a government representative, I can make for them. I do not want anyone telling me what medical choices to make for myself, my daughter, or anyone in my community, so I fully support the power of people to make their own choices when it comes to abortion.
What changes would you like to see in the way police do their jobs in Maine?
We are asking more and more, every day, of the police in our communities. They have to be social workers, health care providers and gun experts. They have become the stopgap for all of society’s ills. We should not force all these roles on them. They need access to the inpatient beds for the drug-addicted, and mentally ill, and shelter beds for those without homes. We need public safety officers – people who will show up when we are in danger, and we need to make sure they have the training to do that job well. We need to look at the government bureaucracy, that our police have to work within, and remove the barriers that proportionally keep more mentally ill and poor people in contact with our police officers, increasing their workload and distracting them from their true mission of public safety.