District #97: Cunningham and Rankin

George Cunningham

George Cunningham of Fryeburg is challenging incumbent Helen Rankin of Hiram for the State Representative seat in District #97.

Answers are arranged alphabetically.

Q. Why did you decide to run for office and what strengths would you bring to the position?

Cunningham: I am running because of deep concern over how well the state has been managed in recent years. I bring to the position a wealth of experience in working with people in a variety of situations, a broad educational background, and a passion for reaching common sense solutions. I believe I have been well respected in all these areas.

Rankin: Upon retirement I needed a new challenge and decided my experience working as the Director of the MSAD 55 School Nutrition Program plus my 25 years representing State and National School Nutrition Associations in Augusta and Washington, D.C. might be useful as a State Legislator. As a member of the 124th Legislature, I now have valuable “on the job” knowledge that will help me to make important decisions regarding situations that come before us.

Q. How do you feel about the emotional climate (primarily discontent) that presently exists amongst the populace toward politics, and how would you make a difference?

Cunningham: I have found throughout the District 97 towns (Brownfield, Fryeburg, Hiram, Parsonsfield and Porter) an almost universal discontent with the state of government at the present time. Two things I promise if elected are (1.) a timely response to every individual concern that is brought to my attention, and (2.) an active communication with the small business community to stimulate job growth and to make the state more business friendly for the sake of more positive, long-term economic development.

Rankin: I find it disturbing that people are so unhappy, yet I understand. However, nothing will be resolved if we allow ourselves to become rude and confrontational. Politics is all about compromise. Committee members “agree to disagree,” listen with an open mind, remain civil and respectful. We need to treat our constituents in the same way and be deserving of their trust.

Q. What do you feel are the three major issues facing the state at this time, and what would you do, if elected, to address these areas?

Cunningham: The three major issues at this time are: (1.) Preserving or restoring the state's long-time standing in education that it has always been known for; (2.) Meeting the state's looming budget crisis for next year; and (3.) Attacking the state's overindulgence in the area of welfare spending.

Helen Rankin

In education I will work to give priority to the state's yet-to-be fulfilled obligation to fund 55% of local education expenses, and I will work to secure morefederal funding that does not erode local control and staffing options.

In terms of the impending budget crisis that we face, I recognize that there are no magical answers, but I am in a position to bring 25 plus years of experience and insights in working with public school budgets to the table. I understand compromise and adjustment and in all of my school working experience have never had a budget rejected by the local voters.

In regard to welfare, helping our fellow citizens in legitimate need of service is something that we need to do. Being overly free with people who could, if prodded, do more for themselves is something else again. I support proposals to set more stringent limits on aid qualification and by requiring people who are able to do so to go to work.

Rankin: 1. Education: Our children must have the best possible education to meet the challenges of the future. We should support junior colleges and make them affordable and available for adults who need to return to school for training in new opportunities that will occur. 2. Jobs: In addition to education we must assist small businesses. 3. Healthcare: There are no easy answers, but we should make every effort to reduce the cost of healthcare and insurance.

Q. Is the proposed casino a good idea or a bad idea for Maine?

Cunningham: It is not clear to me that the casino will be as beneficial to the area as is often proclaimed; however, in my visits around the district I have ascertained very strong support for the venture in behalf of the economic gains to be achieved. On that basis I support going ahead with the proposal for the benefit of our local area.

Rankin: I am not trying to avoid the issue, but in all honesty, I am very torn. People gamble when they purchase lottery tickets, play bingo, buy chance tickets or go out of state to casinos. We are desperate financially. A casino, frankly, goes against the grain for me and I will be searching my soul until the last minute to make the right decision.

Please follow and like us: