Money in Politics, Transparency and Accountability

We need to get Big Money out of our democracy so that government is accountable to citizens.  I’m proud to be running as a Clean Elections Candidate because I want to represent the people of Waldo County. I refuse to owe favors to corporations or wealthy donors whose money overwhelms the voices of people and families. Our Clean Election rules are strict and enable more candidates from all walks of life to run for public office.

My only special interest group is the taxpayer. My average contribution is $10.77.  I will never take money from lobbyists or corporations.

In the time since the last election, I’ve worked to better understand how Augusta works. It can be hard to figure out when public business is done behind closed doors and without input from us. Dark money and organizations with phony titles wield stealth influence.  I will shine a light on these practices and open up government to citizens.  The sabotage of the Solar Bill and the 2014 budget deal that was negotiated in secret at the last minute are examples of the poor leadership and lack of transparency that plagues Augusta.

Sunshine is needed.

Climate and Environmental Stewardship

Our future and our economy depend on a healthy environment. Our bay, rivers and ponds, the fields and the forests of Waldo County are ours to enjoy and to protect. We owe it to our grandchildren, our children and ourselves to protect the natural resources that provide our way of life in Maine.

Leadership is sorely needed in the State Senate in addressing energy efficiency and conservation, supporting local energy production and the jobs that would provide, addressing the devastating mercury contamination in the Penobscot River, and creating a sensible long-term strategy for sustainable jobs and stewardship of our resources.

I support the alternate plan for the proposed dredging of the Searsport Harbor that includes upland disposal of the dredge spoils. It is not wise to risk the lobster and crab fisheries of the Penobscot Bay with contamination when there is a reasonable alternative.

Climate change is real, and we have a moral obligation to reduce our impact.   As a society, we need to find sensible ways to move away from a carbon-based economy.  Here in Maine, that means building and retrofitting for energy efficiency, and rewarding private and public investment in solar and appropriately-placed wind projects.

Energy Independence

By changing our priorities, we can achieve energy independence in Maine with solar, renewables, and conservation. We spend $6 Billion per year on out-of-state energy and that hurts the Maine economy. We even asked ratepayers to foot the bill for a gas pipeline through Maine that benefits everyone except Mainers.

I am on the Energy Committee in Belfast, where we are converting municipal facilities to solar and improving energy efficiency in lighting, insulation and heating.  This provides installation jobs for the local economy and creates savings for taxpayers.

Policies in the Statehouse make a difference. We need to support our communities and citizens in their transition to independent clean energy. We need to take back control of our energy policy, pricing, and future.

I want to negotiate a new energy bill that favors Maine businesses, not outside interests. I will improve energy efficiency and conservation standards and provide support for small business and homeowners to transition to new standards.

I support financing to jumpstart self-sustaining programs that invest in the installation of renewable energy systems. The solar bill was narrowly defeated because of poor leadership and widespread special interest influence, but it would have been a good start. In the short term, we must defend the current net metering rates so that those invested in solar are fairly compensated for the energy they produce. Solar is a good deal for the utilities and all ratepayers.

Raising the Minimum Wage

I’m proud to have spent my life working as a carpenter, farmer, and parent.  I am a small business owner and I’ve always paid above the existing minimum wage.  Better wages strengthen families and give businesses stability.

For years, wages have stagnated under trickle down policies. Women, in particular, have borne the brunt of low wages. The U.S. Congress and Maine State Legislature have failed to raise the minimum wage.  

Consumer spending is the true engine of our economy, and putting money in working people’s pockets will help people and small businesses prosper. Mainers deserve an economy that works for everyone, not just the very top.  For decades, elected officials have given tax breaks to big business, favoring the wealthy.  At the same time, Maine wages have grown slower than 47 other states in the nation since the 2008 recession.  Our communities have suffered as a result.

An increase in the minimum wage is an important part of rebuilding the middle class in Maine.  Seven out of ten minimum wage workers, and eight of ten tipped workers in Maine are women.  In families with two wage earners, women often work for less so families would benefit from a minimum wage increase, and that is good for everyone.

Fair Taxes for a Fair Maine

For the last 50 years we have heard that cutting top tax rates for corporations and the wealthy will result in more jobs and prosperity. This is a lie.  These tax cuts have not created more jobs; instead they have gutted our economy, while they have enabled the very rich to massively increase their wealth and power.

The rest of us have been driven down the economic ladder through job loss, stagnant wages, low wage jobs, while paying more in taxes and getting less for our town services and schools. We face threats to social security, entrenched opposition on increasing the minimum wage, and lack of control on healthcare costs.  We are increasingly unable to obtain the funds needed to provide the education our children deserve, and the childcare benefits and paid leave that are needed to support our families.  Many of these trends are national, some are global, but we can act locally.

There’s a way out, and it has three parts:

One, I want to lower your property taxes.  The State needs to pick up the full 55% tab for public schools, set previously by mandate, but never fulfilled by Augusta.  The tax burden has been shifted to municipalities who struggle to make up the difference. The end result has been increased property taxes that unfairly burden middle and working class Mainers.  Also, the quality of your kids’ education depends, in large part, on how rich your neighborhood is.

To pay for the added school funding at the state level, we should make sure that the wealthiest Mainers pay their fair share of taxes. Right now, they do not.

Two – I am dedicated to restoring the revenue sharing to the towns that has eroded since the 2011 income tax cuts. Our communities need access to safe, secure, and stable funding to support needed services.  Our firefighters and police need training and gear, our municipal facilities need updating, our roads need maintenance.

Three – I will work to find and use every dollar of available federal funding to strengthen Maine families and towns. Right now, our politicians often take federal help for big business development but leave money on the table that can help struggling families and workers.