State House District
The greatest challenges facing Maine in 2020 and beyond are climate change, energy production, public health and economic recovery in the wake of Covid-19's devastating impact on how we as a society have traditionally functioned.
Climate change will have a significant affect on Maine -- both our environment and economy -- if we cannot unite as a species worldwide to apply our knowledge and skills to decelerate the rate of global warming.
With climate change, comes erosion of our coastlines and migrations of invasive species into our state and beloved species out -- billions of dollars worth of property could be lost.
While Covid-19 has posed a challenge to our way of life, it has also laid bare the solutions for all to see. We know now that we don't need to commute for billions of hours and miles collectively nationwide to do our work.
The key to economic recovery in the wake of Covid-19 is for Maine to leverage its environmental assets to the maximum benefit of revenue.
My priorities if elected are to meet the challenge of climate change through development of clean renewable offshore wind and solar energy and investments in their infrastructures (which will also annually generate tens of millions of dollars of revenue for the state if production is administered and managed directly by the state); to leverage Maine's environmental assets for maximum economic gain and state revenue (including conservation, elevating the Katahdin North Woods to a national park and investing in alternative-fiber paper production and the agricultural framework to support it); and to ensure that federal funds for Covid-19-related support and economic stimulus are allocated to Maine people, small businesses and public institutions instead of large out-of-state corporations.
As a member of the Portland School Committee from 2001 to 2007, I held a reputation as a public elected official who was always responsive to constituent input. Regardless of whether I held the same opinion or not, I was well known for always giving my constituents the courtesy of a response.
I use all communication forums available, whether that be phone, mail, email, in-person interactions or social media.
As a state representative, I will hold a high interest in what residents of my district feel and think about issues and will look toward my greater community at large for advise and guidance.
I pride myself in being open to the views of all residents and will do my best to represent the best collective will of all constituents.
Legislative resources for constituent outreach could be used better to poll and ascertain the will of people within a district, and I would use those resources available to me as a representative to get the best pulse of the district.
The solutions of economic recovery are lying right in front of our faces, with knowledge, expertise, technology and research all present right here in Maine, and the solutions all lead straight back to impeccable environmental stewardship.
At our own flagship university, the University of Maine, the Advanced Structures and Composites Center has engineered composite floating offshore wind turbine hulls, which could produce 156 gigawatts of energy per year within 10 years -- more than $20 million of annual revenue at today's market value, and thousands of new jobs.
A Katahdin North Woods National Park would result in more than $100 million per year injected into Maine's economy, and up to 6,000 new jobs in the first 10 years, 10,000 in the first 20.
In a post-Covid-19 world, the environment will be an even greater tourism and recreation attraction than ever before. Maine is poised -- so long as there is political will -- to benefit economically from its greatest asset, our environment.
State House District
In the midst of a global pandemic and economic catastrophe, Maine is facing the challenge of how to adapt to altered regional, national, and global realities. Our state must find a way to weather the current pandemic without completely jeopardizing our near and longer term futures. A crisis like this is when we need the full perspective of the state legislature. Unfortunately we are in a situation where representative government has been suspended -- exactly when it is needed most. We must find a way to allow our elected officials to work together to address the public health and economic impacts of this pandemic. Furthermore, the willingness of politicians to work cooperatively has nearly vanished in this current hyper-partisan and negative environment. The divisiveness that has gripped our country is bad for everyone! In difficult times we must find ways to work together and find solutions for the real threats and challenges facing our communities. Our success depends on it.
My top priority would be to represent the constituents of this district. I believe our government works best when our elected officials truly serve as representatives -- effectively conveying information from the district to the state level, AND act as a conduit for state information to make its way back to the local level. I would forge ties with local governments, school officials, 1st responders, businesses, and other groups in the 3 towns of this district.
Another top priority is be to be involved in the state’s COVID-19 response. We need health minded representatives in our legislature, and I feel confident that my background in public health would be vital to this conversation.
An overarching priority would be to serve in a manner that would break down barriers and decrease the discord between our political parties. Representatives do not only serve one party. Bringing decency, and the willingness to compromise and cooperate is essential for our state’s future.
ACCESSIBILITY to elected officials is key. With the “new normal” of the pandemic, people are more accustomed to video conferences and digital communication -- I hope this trend can be used as a positive force in civic engagement. COMMUNICATION to our communities is vital as well. I have seen hearings on bills in Augusta sway drastically when just one or two people show up to voice their side. Our representatives have the opportunity to foster engagement and involvement of citizens in our district to be an effective political force in Augusta. Even small districts like #135 have the potential to have a big effect on how Maine goes. I also believe that officials should look ahead and identify future leaders and help foster their involvement -- starting even with school age community members.
The best way to support economic recovery is to listen to the business owners, and the workers in the district. Maine has an economy as varied as its landscapes and there will not be a singular answer to the challenges we face. Any actions to bolster economic recovery, however, need to be evaluated with consideration to our short and long term futures. This means that significantly increasing taxes would NOT be a prudent action. More than ever, we need to find a way to improve opportunities for ALL Mainers. Maine must attract and maintain businesses, employers, skilled workers. Having a functioning and growing economy is the only way we will really recover – a rising tide will float all boats.
State House District
We need to provide free higher education, college level and vocational, for all Mainers, for new High School graduates as well as for those transitioning into new vocations.
The lack of rural public transportation bars many rural residents from working at jobs that provide a living wage and new transportation systems must be created.
Even though many Mainers have organized for years around providing universal health care for all Mainers, that goal has remained elusive and thousands of Mainers avoid medical care except in cases of emergency, fearful of their inability to pay huge medical bills.
I plan to pursue the need for rural public transportation by initially researching what systems currently exist, as minimal as they are, and then working with transportation professionals, town governments and employers in crafting pubic-private systems that will address this issue.
I will work on criminal justice reform, starting with the elimination of cash bail, except for those charged with specific serious crimes. I will also work on sealing the records of those who have been convicted of non-violent marijuana related behavior which, in the past, was illegal but which is now legal behavior.
I will work with those in the legislature that are pursuing the possibility of publicly owned power for Maine.
Mount Desert Island residents have a fairly high level of civic engagement but, of course, there can always be more. Even during the campaign, I am communicating as best I can with MDI residents about the evolving nature of the pandemic policies in Maine, as well as opportunities to listen to, and participate in, various Zoom calls and other types of events that share information from government and civic organizations. I will continue to do so, on various evolving topics, after I am elected. I also have a separate phone line that is available for folks to call or text me (207-266-0086).
Clearly my district, which includes Bar Harbor, Mount Desert and Lamoine, has been, and will continue to be, impacted by COVID 19 and travel and tourism challenges. In addition to communicating with residents and businesses about evolving state rules and regulations, I am gathering information from residents and small businesses about their needs and challenges during this difficult time. I will continue to do so after I am elected, whether the issue is COVID 19, or simply the general challenges that small businesses face. Making both businesses and individuals aware of what opportunities exist for support from state government, and how to access such support, is one thing a legislator can do. I will also lobby on behalf of the small businesses and non-profits in my district, for continuing state support even after the impacts from COVID 19 have begun to level off.