LEWISTON – Seven Republican candidates are seeking their party’s nomination during the primary election on June 8. Here’s a closer look at what they have to say about several state and local issues.
Do you support gay marriage?
Abbott: I would oppose a same-sex marriage law and I would support a civil union or domestic partnership law that gives a same-sex couple the same rights and responsibilities that a married couple has.
Beardsley: I support traditional marriage.
Jacobson: It seems to me, my church ought to decide who gets married and my state should decide who gets taxed. Not gay marriage, but we’ve got to find a way for gay couples to have the same legal rights as everyone else.
Mills: I’m personally supportive, but I believe it should be voted on by the people.
Do you support the new tax reform law?
Abbott: I am supporting the Republican repeal effort.
Beardsley: I’ll vote yes on that (to repeal the new law); I’m a fan of tax relief not tax reform.
Jacobson: I’m against this tax reform (and will vote to repeal the law).
LePage: I am campaigning as hard to repeal that as I am for running for governor.
Mills: It’s so important to bring down the capital gains tax and the tax on wages and on labor, that’s why I (voted) for it (in the Legislature). (Mills will vote against the repeal question, the only Republican candidate to do so.)
Otten: I will be voting yes (to repeal); it is nothing more than a re-arranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic and it will not create jobs and is not a substitute for real tax reform.
Poliquin: You have to cut spending before you cut taxes because if you don’t do that, you could push the state to insolvency. I support the repeal effort.
Abbott: I am not someone who would be advocating for casino development, but I believe that local areas should have the right to decide for themselves whether or not they want to have casino development, and the governor should not interfere.
Beardsley: I personally oppose gambling. I would not endorse, I would not support, I would veto legislation on that matter. Conversely, if it passes over a veto or if it goes to the citizens and is approved, I would certainly fully implement and administer those kinds of activities.
Jacobson: I’m kind of ambivalent about casinos as a general rule. My issue is the way they are marketed as economic development — well, they’re not. To me, we can do much better if that is our goal. But that said, if a local community wants a business in their community, why would we prevent one from opening?
LePage: I really haven’t taken a position and the reason why is I don’t know enough about it. Personally, I have voted against every casino issue that’s come up in the state. This particular issue, however, I need to look at what it does on the economic side. Frankly, if the people of the county want it, I think it should be a county decision. I don’t particularly like gambling, but we are already in the gambling business.
Mills: I don’t like any of them. I’ve always voted against them. I know they are here – it’s just my strong personal view. I just think they are a waste of time.
Otten: Any casino that gets built or proposed in the state of Maine needs to have a profound local impact in a positive sense and … should be owned and operated by people who come from the state of Maine, and therefore the benefits of it should stay in the state of Maine.
Poliquin: There are better ways to build a business climate that’s healthy in this state.
State cuts and local impacts
All the candidates have said they support making further cuts in the state budget, but what will that mean for municipalities and local school budgets?
Abbott: There’s a tension between wanting all your services done, provided by your municipality, and (relief from) your high property taxes. I do think it’s important at the municipal level for us to continue to look at the potential savings that are out there, so part of the burden is on us locally to explore ways to more efficiently deliver the services that we need; we can do that without giving up the character of our cities and towns.
Beardsley: I feel philosophically one should not reduce any commitment to municipal revenue-sharing or in the broader sense, that 55 percent commitment to towns, unless one can reduce the mandates and requirements of the state in the same order of magnitude. We’ve got tremendous pressures that are pushing us to more and more centralized government, and I do not see the economies in a lot of that. But there are always efficiency issues in municipalities, just like there is anywhere else. The state should be changing its mandates for special education, because it is extremely expensive.
Jacobson: (Those) are awful decisions. If we are going to fund the same old government with less money, well then the only answer is that we make cuts. But why don’t we use this as an opportunity to completely reinvent it? One of the things I learned during the petition process in order to get on the ballot is, boy, there are an awful lot of town halls that are awfully close to one another that are staffed and managed. It seems to me, that there’s an awful lot of opportunity (to consolidate).
LePage: I’ve been a mayor now for six years and we have cut taxes every single year that I’ve been mayor or we didn’t raise taxes. There’s a great opportunity to reduce spending at the local level. By cutting our budget in Waterville, we have yet to cut a service; so I think you can get people to work more efficiently, you can cross-train, you can combine some services.
Mills: We have to cut, I would say, in some proportion the support for local education and revenue sharing; it’s sad, but the challenge is that there isn’t anybody that’s going to escape in this recession. We have a K-12 education system that’s spending about $3,000 more per student than the national average. And the state, all rumors to the contrary, doesn’t really run local school systems. It’s up to the local school boards to hire and fire (staff) and all of the other things they need to run schools.
Otten: Every citizen of the state of Maine will have to participate in one form or another as we cut $1 billion out of the state’s budget. That means we’re going to have to become more efficient, more productive, we’re going to have to have more privatization and we’re going to have to cut out programs that don’t work. But local control is critical so that we can get the state out of the business of telling local communities how to run their educational systems.
Poliquin: Certainly state government should not dictate to the municipalities how to run their local governments. The state’s broke, so of course there will be cuts. But what I am saying is, local control is very, very important, so we have to make sure the state doesn’t dictate to municipalities what they can do or should do. But there are all kinds of ways to save money, and these local governments have to be encouraged to do this because there will be cuts, we have no choice.
Improved rail for Lewiston-Auburn
Abbott: Freight rail is critically important to our economic future because I am somebody who believes in manufacturing and I am someone who believes in industry, and that requires a strong freight rail system; the Lewiston-Auburn-to-Canada passenger piece is also intriguing.
Beardsley: Railroads are absolutely essential for a 1st class, 21st century country and state. My feeling is, rail is essential, but I don’t think the state should be making huge investments in railroads.
Jacobson: Maine’s greatest opportunity on transportation and infrastructure types of projects is increasing the speed at which rail could connect Lewiston-Auburn with Montreal. Anytime we increase connectivity with one of the world’s largest finance centers, it will only help us.
LePage:We cannot be prosperous and we cannot have a strong economy without a strong rail system; but it would not be the first thing on my list.
Mills: The first priority is to get passenger rail up to Brunswick. But I am certainly a member of what they call the rail caucus in the Legislature and I’m highly supportive.
Otten: I’m not going to single out any specific area in the state (as a priority), because what the governor needs to do is essentially get up to about 40,000 feet and look at what’s going to benefit the entire state.
Poliquin: Rail is very important, because it’s so cost-effective to move goods and services around, but we need to first get our fiscal house in order. If L-A has an issue with rail, we’ll help them any way we can as long as it doesn’t include any money, because we have none.
Wind power development
Abbott: I am a proponent of developing all possible alternative energy, and wind is one of those alternatives, but we do have to be cognizant of the impact they have had on the people who live near them; that’s a part of why I am such a proponent of the deep, off-shore wind effort.
Beardsley: I say, put all the options on the table and let the free enterprise system work.
Jacobson: I always view this from a position of cost: if we were getting electricity for two or three cents per kilowatt hour from wind mills, there is a cost benefit analysis to do. But for 15 cents kwh, what am I getting for wreaking the mountains?
LePage: We should open our doors, allow business and investment and the risk-takers and the visionaries to start new enterprise in Maine and we ought to stay out of the way. Having said that, I believe we have the responsibility to bring common sense, science and good technology; that’s the extent to which oversight should go.
Mills: We’re not getting the power off them, the power is going into the New England market and we’re paying for it basically at Boston rates, so I am not against it at all. But I just think the benefits of on-shore wind aren’t enough, particularly considering how highly subsidized they are by the federal tax laws.
Otten: Obviously doing research and development on technologies that could lead to manufacturing opportunities are a high priority for the state of Maine.
Poliquin: If there are communities that are embracing wind development, then they ought to be able to embrace them.
Maine gubernatorial candidates at a glance
NAME: Steven W. “Steve” Abbott
AGE: 47, born on Aug. 16, 1962.
EDUCATION: Degree in history from Harvard, where he was a football captain; graduated from the University of Maine School of Law in 1991.
CAREER: Practiced law at Pierce Atwood in Portland. For the past 12 years, chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
FAMILY: Lives in Portland with his wife, Amy, and their two children, Hannah and Henry.
QUOTE: “My campaign is about transforming Maine from a state with a reputation for high taxes, low wages, and an unwelcoming business climate to the best place in the nation to do business.”
NAME: William “Bill” Beardsley
AGE: 67, born on July 4, 1942
EDUCATION: Degree in economics Earlham College; Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University from the College of Geography and Environmental Engineering.
CAREER: President of Husson University 1987-2009; Bar Harbor Banking & Trust Co. real estate investments and branch manager 1985-86; State of Alaska, Department of Commerce and Economic Development 1982-85; executive director Center for Entrepreneurship Development and Associate Professor of Natural Resources Management, Alaska Pacific University 1981-82; vice president Bangor Hydro Electric Co. 1976-81; assistant to the president, Green Mountain Power Co. 1973-76; aide to Gov. Deane Davis of Vermont 1970-73; assistant to dean of agriculture and assistant professor, University of Vermont 1969-70.
FAMILY: Lives in Ellsworth with his wife Betsy. They have three children, Michael, James and Laura.
QUOTE: “My vision for Maine is a Maine built on a world class economy, founded in our natural resources and people, our strategic location, a competitive advantage in energy and business climate, unleashed entrepreneurial spirit, and quality communities for growing up and growing old, for excellent education opportunities, for personal independence.”
NAME: Matt Jacobson
AGE: 49. Born Feb. 4, 1961.
EDUCATION: Graduate of U.S. Naval Academy, master of business administration from Chapman University.
CAREER: Since 2006, he has been president and CEO of Portland-based Maine & Company, which aims to attract businesses to Maine. Assistant vice president at Canadian National Railways in Chicago from 2000-2005; president and CEO of St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad in Auburn from 1996-2000. He worked for CSX railroad company from 1991-1996. Pilot in the U.S. Air Force 1984-1991, serving in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
FAMILY: Lives in Cumberland with wife, Kate, and two children, Hank and Maggie.
QUOTE: “Maine can be a place where hard work is rewarded with opportunity, where our children can realize their dreams and our people have hope.”
NAME: Paul LePage
AGE: 61. Born Oct. 9, 1948.
EDUCATION: Degree in business administration, Husson College, 1971; master’s in business administration, University Of Maine, 1975.
CAREER: General manager Marden’s department stores 1996-present; LePage & Kasevich Inc. 1983-96; Forster Mfg. Co. 1982-83; Scott Paper Co. 1979-82; Arthurette Lumber in Canada 1972-79. Mayor of Waterville, 2003-present.
FAMILY: Lives in Waterville with wife Ann. Five grown children.
QUOTE: “I am running for governor because, as most of us born or raised in the state, I love Maine. Its people, communities, businesses and natural beauty are like no other place on Earth.”
NAME: S. Peter Mills
AGE: 66. Born June 3, 1943.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Harvard with degree in English 1965; University of Maine School of Law 1973, graduated No. 2 in the class.
CAREER: U.S. Navy 1965-70. Attorney in Portland 1973-82; owner of the Wright & Mills law firm in Skowhegan since 1982. Maine Senate 1995-2002, 2005-2010; Maine House of Representatives 2003-04.
FAMILY: Lives in Cornville with his wife, Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills; three daughters.
QUOTE: “Every baby born in Maine begins life owing at least $4,500 to the state. That’s each citizen’s share of $6 billion in retirement benefits owed to teachers and state employees. Maine’s financial structure is tottering because of promises it cannot keep. Until we have funded our binding promises, our budget motto must be, ‘Pay as you go or do without.”‘
NAME: Leslie B. “Les” Otten
AGE: 60. Born May 24, 1949.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of science with a major in business administration from Ithaca College 1971.
CAREER: Principal of Maine Energy Systems, a wood pellet furnace company, as well as an owner and investor in a number of other small businesses including a golf swing simulator manufacturer, land and housing development companies and a restaurant at Sunday River ski resort. From 2002-2007, he was vice chairman and partner of the Boston Red Sox. From 1995 to 2001, he headed American Skiing Co., which owned ski resorts in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Colorado, Utah and California. Before forming American Skiing, he ran Sunday River in Bethel, which he bought in 1980.
FAMILY: Otten is divorced with three grown children, ages 31, 33 and 34. He lives in Greenwood.
QUOTE: “My top priority as governor will be aimed squarely at creating private-sector jobs.”
NAME: Bruce Poliquin
AGE: 56. Born Nov. 1, 1953.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Harvard with a bachelor of arts with a concentration in economics.
CAREER: Since 2006, has been the principal of Dirigo Holdings LLC, which oversees two housing projects in Phippsburg. From 1996 to 2003, he was a private investor in small businesses in Maine. From 1981 until 1996, he worked as a managing partner with New York-based Avatar Investors Associates Corp.
FAMILY: He and his first wife, who was killed in a boating accident in 1991, had a son who is now 19. He lives in Georgetown.
QUOTE: “My vision is to build a new positive attitude toward business development and jobs, while preserving our special quality of life.”