District 98: Villa and Waterhouse

With the House District 98 seat vacated by Rick Sykes of Harrison, the state representative post is being sought by Democratic candidate Lisa R. Villa of Harrison and Republican candidate G. Paul Waterhouse of Bridgton.

The candidates’ responses are arranged alphabetically.

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

Lisa Villa

Villa: I decided to run for representative because — as a selectman — I’ve become involved in local and regional economic development and transportation issues that increasingly involve state government. I feel that I can best serve our region by bringing our concerns directly to Augusta. I’ve served as co-chairman of the County Charter Commission, chairman of the County Budget Advisory Committee, CDBG Municipal Oversight Committee/Application Review Team, and on a number of different transportation and economic development committees.

I’m well respected for my ability to work on committees with both parties, and to do so effectively. I’m passionate about what I’ve been doing and well aware of the needs of our region. Many have seen how I have taken on tough challenges and never backed down from doing what was right for the people I represent. I will do the same in Augusta.

Waterhouse: I decided to run because as a state legislator from 1994 to 2002, I really enjoyed helping area towns and people with problems they had with state government. I felt I was a positive influence and achieved results for my constituents, be it helping someone get the money they were promised to continue their education (she told it was nice to see that the wheels of state government can work) or helping to secure funding for the Route 117 project in Harrison. I also fought hard for small businesses, and will continue to do so if elected. One of my first bills was the address regulations that were hurting small businesses. I’ll continue to push for pro-economic development, that is what this state needs. We need to create a Maine that is business friendly. One of my campaign slogans is, ‘I’m committed to a Maine that helps people in need, but will strive for a prosperous Maine where fewer people need help.’ Yes, we need to attract good-paying jobs. We can’t increase revenues if we don’t have jobs.

I’ve proven in the past, having never missed a roll call vote, that I take this job very seriously. While I am an independent thinker, I listen to opposing views and then try to make a decision that is in the best interest of the people I serve. Now that I am retired, I believe I can be even more effective and be a strong voice in Augusta for District 98.

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?

Villa: I understand it — it’s frustrating for all of us. What we all want is basic — we want government to spend our tax dollars wisely and to balance the state’s budget without continually turning to overburdened taxpayers to make it happen. We want transparency, accountability and effective government.

As a Harrison selectman and the Cumberland County Budget chairman, I have worked hard (and effectively) to keep any tax increases to an absolute minimum. I have learned to make tough choices locally and at the county level – I will bring these same skills to Augusta. I want to see leaders from both parties working together to solve problems. We need to make many changes and we need leaders willing to work across party lines to make these changes happen. I will always work to bridge the gap in Augusta.

G. Paul Waterhouse

Waterhouse: From the people I’ve spoken to, there doesn’t seem to be discontent, but more frustration about the way the economy is going. People talk a lot about jobs, and wanting state government to justify its spending. People just want you to be honest with them. Be upfront and tell them as it is. I have no problem explaining how I voted on a particular issue. I’ll give my reasons, and regardless of what someone might think, they appreciate that I was honest and really thought the matter out. People need to be able to trust their representative. I believe I had that trust when I served before, and want to earn that trust once more.

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?

Villa: The top three issues facing the state right now are job creation, high taxes and education funding. I want to bring new opportunities to western Maine.

First we need to decrease the number of roadblocks to business expansion that currently exist in Maine. We also need to provide targeted incentives to entrepreneurs who will help grow our local economy. In 2009, I worked with legislators to extend Pine Tree Zone benefits statewide, providing incentives for private sector job creation. In Augusta, I will explore ways to extend and improve those benefits so they are more meaningful to small businesses and entrepreneurs.  We need to re-tune the bureaucracy in Augusta to create efficiencies and streamline the process for starting or expanding a business and make more resources available at the local and regional level.

Waterhouse: It may sound simple, but really, it is — jobs, jobs, jobs. We need to change Maine’s image as a more pro-business state. If we create a strong economy, it will take care of many of the problems we’re facing right now. We can improve the economy, and yet we don’t need to hurt our environmental regulations. We can strike a balance. We also need to get our spending in order, reduce taxes and mandates. I truly believe we need a smaller, more efficient government.

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

Villa: I don’t think a casino is an ideal economic development strategy, but I understand the need for job creation in western Maine. I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors and met many people who want to work and to continue to live in western Maine. The current economic outlook remains bleak, and a casino now looks like a viable option to help jump-start the regional economy. People need to feed their families, and they need to heat their homes. I support the people’s decision and regardless of the referendum’s outcome. I will work in Augusta to insure that the focus remains on new job creation and economic development for western Maine. That is my promise.

Waterhouse: I can’t say whether it is a good or bad idea when people are really hurting for jobs in Oxford County. I believe we should allow local people to decide if they want it or not in their community.

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