Election ’14: House District 66

RACE: HOUSE District 66

Mary-Vienessa Fernandes Democrat

Mary-Vienessa Fernandes
Democrat

District Makeup: In Androscoggin County, the part of the municipality of Poland west of a line described as follows: Beginning at the point where the northwest boundary of Block 2007 of Tract 041000 intersects with the Poland-Mechanic Falls boundary; then along the western boundary of Block 2007, Block 2006 and then Block 2016 of Tract 041000 until it intersects with Poland Corner Road; then southwest along the center line of Poland Corner Road until it intersects with Aggregate Road; then south along the center line of Aggregate Road until it intersects with Maine Street; then southeast along the center line of Maine Street until it intersects with the southern boundary of Block 2024 of Tract 041000; then west and north along the boundary of Block 2024 of Tract 041000 (following the shoreline of Middle Range Pond) until it intersects with the western boundary of Block 2042 of Tract 041000; then southeast and south along the boundary of Blocks 2042, 2041, 2040 and 2043 of Tract 041000 (through Middle Range Pond) until it intersects with Range Hill Road (at the northern end of Upper Range Pond); then east along the center line of Range Hill Road until it intersects with the eastern shore of Upper Range Pond; then south along the shoreline of Upper Range Pond until it intersects with the Poland-New Gloucester boundary; and
In Cumberland County, the part of the municipality of Casco north and east of a line described as follows: Beginning at the point where Roosevelt Trail intersects with the Naples-Casco boundary; then southeast along the center line of Roosevelt Trail until it intersects with Casco-Raymond boundary; and;
Part of the municipality of Raymond north of a line described as follows: Beginning at the point where Roosevelt Trail intersects with the Casco-Raymond boundary; then southeast along the centerline of Roosevelt Trail until it intersects with Main Street; then northeast and then southeast along the center line of Main Street until it intersects with Mill Street; then northeast and then southeast along the center line of Mill Street until it intersects with Webbs Mills Road; then northeast along the center line of Webbs Mills Road until it intersects with Brown Road; then southeast along the center line of Brown Road until it intersects with the Raymond-Gray boundary.
Candidates: D-Mary-Vienessa Fernandes, R-Michael McClellan, Green-IND-Lisa Willey.
Background/Political experience:
Fernandes: Resident of Casco; program manager in criminal rehabilitation intervention and mental health; four years Casco Board of Selectmen, two years as chairman.
McClellan: Resident of Raymond; incumbent state representative; my wife of 31 years is Michelle, an educator; our adult children are Maggie and Pat; I currently am the executive director of the Maine Statewide Independent Living Council (Maine SILC); I have worked in nonprofit/human services, education, government and in business; I am a Leadership Maine graduate (Xi Class); I just completed training to be a mediator for Maine; served as a Raymond school board and select board member; coached and have served on many local committees including chairing the Raymond building project that created the new school; have been the representative, Maine House 103 for two terms; in this time, have been asked to serve some of the busiest and important committees including Education and Cultural Affairs, Insurance and Financial Services, the special Regulatory Reform and Fairness Committee and the special Health Exchange Committee (think Obamacare); serve as a lead on the House/Senate Prayer Caucus.
Willey: Resident of Casco, where I was born and raised; lived in California while attending college; moved back to Casco 23 years ago with husband, Bob.

Michael McClellan Republican

Michael McClellan
Republican

Q. Why did you become interested in seeking political office?
Fernandes: I recognized a wrong that needed to be addressed, and felt I was in a good position to do so. I stood up in the community and voiced my opinion.
McClellan: As a child, my dad was involved and I remember being five years old and helping deliver literature to doors. My wife and I discussed raising children and decided it would be in their interest for me to volunteer in the classroom when I could. Volunteering in the schools was a great opportunity to learn and serve. This led to two school board terms and then one on the select board. I thought I was done in terms of running for office, but a surprise opening in the Maine House race four years ago led me to be asked to run. My interest this time is in seeing how quickly the dysfunction of Washington, D.C. politics has come into Maine over the past two years. Maine has had Democrat leadership for about 40 years with the exception of my first two years. Given our accomplishments and how fast things went downhill when returned to the other party in the past two years, I certainly feel responsible to get Maine back on track in the legislature.
Willey: I am seeking office because I want to bring an independent voice to Augusta! I have been growing increasingly frustrated with the two-party system, with stalemates on either side of “the aisle.”
Q. What experiences (life, business, etc.) do you believe make you a strong candidate to serve area residents in Augusta?
Fernandes: During my years as a Casco Select Board member, I learned that I have a talent for bringing people of varying perspectives together. What makes me a strong candidate is that I have an innate ability to forge ahead solving problems.
McClellan: I was raised in a loving family. We had what we needed and never felt poor. My faith in God has grown over the past 14 years and if I have a “gift” it is service. I look to Him and prayer as a big part of my life. I listed above my work in various fields that give me great understanding of leadership and how to tackle an issue. My first leadership role was at age 22. I lead in work, play, family and my church. While I have been in Augusta for four years, I eat lunch alone a lot. By that I mean I am not involved in various groups, Augusta social activities. I go do the work of the people and then come home to my wife. I do not stay overnight in Augusta. I care about the people I know and serve, have little interest in the trappings of Augusta. I communicate constantly with constituents who want that level of information. I am not defined as a “politician.”
Willey: I feel that some of the life experiences that have helped me with my candidacy and will help me in the legislature have been raising and homeschooling my three children. They are now 23, 20 and 17. Organizing our lives and schedules, finding the best direction for each child, and embracing their individuality has been challenging and rewarding! I have also been a 4-H leader and educator for other students of all ages (including adults) and abilities, maintaining patience and moderation, and keeping the peace. That is truly “working both sides of the aisle!”
Q. There is always talk about politicians being able to “work both sides of the aisle” to tackle various issues. Speak specifically as to what you believe it takes to be successful in this area.
Fernandes: Being a member of the Casco Select Board, working as a volunteer in my community and having 21 (very competitive) nieces and nephews, has given me experience in listening well and learning to walk in others’ shoes in order to solve common problems.

Lisa Willey Green-Independent

Lisa Willey
Green-Independent

McClellan: I believe you need to have core values and then stick with them. These are the things that you believe make up the core of who you are. I think you have to be a good listener and open to be educated to work across the aisle as the parties appear to be so polar these days. Sometimes, it can work. I do think this is overrated though. The parties are so polar that many ideas are either yes or no. I believe way too many laws are proposed each year as politicians feel the need to do something to be able to run again, to say they did something. Last session, the governor vetoed many bills. We considered 41 on our last day. Democrats thought this was bad, as though we really needed all those bills. I recently studied the 41 vetoes on the last day of session and looked at how seven local Republicans (including me) and seven local Democrats voted. You know their names. My total was 30 votes with the governor and 11 against. My Republican peers each were a few more against. When I totaled the Democrats’ votes, each person was 100% voting against the governor on 41 votes in one day. So what does bi-partisan really mean?
Willey: To be successful in working a two-sided situation, we need to be able to listen! While running for office, and in following politics throughout life, I have seen politicians be more interested in the “talking” side and less interested in truly listening. Now, more than ever, with the two-party system our decision makers are getting more and more closed minded to listening to the other party and their ideas. Maybe a compromise can be reached, instead of just “I vote NO.” I believe that I have been successful at helping others reach compromises and finding ways to listen to each other. I can bring that to Augusta. I have also served on Casco’s Open Space Commission, interpreting the ordinances and working together as a team.
Q. What do you believe are the three major, pressing issues facing Maine and local communities, and specifically address how you would propose to address them?
Fernandes: Many seniors I have met are concerned about being able to stay in their homes. By creating independent housing clusters and helping Speaker of the House Eaves implement the “KeepMEhome” initiative, we can help seniors have affordable housing and have their transportations needs met.
I have spoken with parents and students who are concerned about costs of education and property taxes. With a goal of fully funding General Purpose Aid to Education at 55%, we can keep property taxes from rising so rapidly. Education is the best remedy for poverty and crime.
McClellan: Education. I hear often that we don’t fund education to the 55% level as voted on over 10 years ago by the people of Maine. At the time, the Democrats, and of course the Maine Educators Association, were in charge. They did not fund education as directed. Now, they use this lack of funding as their battle cry. I would love to go to Augusta this January and convince the governor to tear the budget up and fund education at 55%. Then, fund other programs as best we can after that. We could use this process to get rid of a lot that Maine should not be funding.
Welfare Reform. I believe government doesn’t do much well. With the war on poverty since 1965, we have a higher percentage of poverty now than when we began after spending trillions of dollars on this war. Instead of giveaways, why not create jobs? I believe there are people in this society that do and may always need our help to live. We should unquestionably help these people. I think on the other end of the spectrum that people who are cheating and wasting our money should be dealt with. This is your money, and are you really okay hearing EBT cards used at Disneyland? I would audit welfare to make sure people who should be getting it can, and cutting abuse out. I would expect people getting help to be active in something — be it job search, volunteering, what have you…This is the right thing to do.
Maine needs more jobs — simple. Government, get out of the way! Regulatory reform, less paperwork, less taxes. Let our business community go do what they do best. Government cannot create jobs. All government can do is seize your money and give it to someone else. That is not economic development. I would suggest we look at our policies and laws on the business community and take a knife to it. Free our small businesses!
Willey: Facing our community are many issues. Three of the major issues are healthcare, resource protection and education. The economy is an issue, which is intertwined in these. Healthcare issues have been specifically mentioned to me throughout this campaign. I met a man in my district with ALS, without health insurance because he and his family “fell in the crack” between the Affordable Healthcare Act and MaineCare. This is not an isolated incident. I hear this repeatedly. Many families are struggling with paying for insurance, and because of recent changes in MaineCare, do not qualify for that. Preventative healthcare is what will keep Mainers’ heads above water, working and out of the emergency rooms. I suggest we skip the insurance middleman (why should corporations profit from Mainer’s health?) and work toward single-payer health coverage in Maine.
Education in Maine needs to improve in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The way to attract businesses that we want in Maine and to rebuild our economy is through STEM. Businesses that we want in Maine, which pay a higher wage, will come here because this is where the educated workforce is. Over the years, I have had so many people ask for my help in teaching/tutoring their kids in math and science. I think the bar is not set high enough in STEM subjects early on, starting in elementary school. Teachers need training and funds to provide this to their students. Maine students could be the pioneers in alternative energy technology. That is a key business to attract to Maine.
Resource protection is an especially important issue, and does affect our economy. Maine attracts many visitors to our lakes, mountains, trails, parks and woods. Protecting our natural resources should be a major concern as our economy and wellbeing would go downhill fast without them. Fishing, hunting, hiking, swimming and yes, tourism help keep Maine economically functioning.
Q. While campaigning, what issue seems to be at the forefront of most voters’ minds, offer some examples of comments made, and give your opinion on that subject.
Fernandes: Seniors want to continue living in their homes and property taxes are too high. I met a couple who recognized that one day they would have to sell their home, but wanted to remain in their community. Their affordable housing options were limited.  By working with other members of the legislature, we can help seniors remain independent.
McClellan: People in Raymond are concerned about the proposal to leave the RSU. They don’t know what it would look like. They often like the idea of a Raymond school, but are not sure about the process. I am open to the discussion and probably would rather have local control of our schools. I share the concern that there would be a lot to returning to a Raymond school district and what will the costs look like to adding administration, buses…
People are also concerned about healthcare. There are so many holes in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that it is not hard to run into people who get caught in a tough situation given how poorly the law was created. Just the ACA alone should encourage you to vote Republican. With my work on the Health Exchange Committee, I have met many providers in healthcare this past year. While I am not a fan of Obamacare, I have been pleased that each person I have referred to help has come back to me, thanking me and feeling represented. However, I have come to realize (given huge deductibles) that health insurance is not healthcare.
Willey: People have asked me about this as well. I have heard some people in Augusta complain about environmental restrictions and how it affects business. What about the people and small businesses, which rely on tourism dollars? I don’t believe we should allow multinational corporations to extract and pollute our resources in Maine and through loopholes escape their financial responsibility. My job as a legislator will be to protect Maine and it’s people...to put Maine first.
Q. How do you plan to keep constituents up-to-date with issues that come before you?
Fernandes: I will send out newsletters, have a website, and use social media. Constituents can always reach me anytime at (207) 776-2319, via e-mail at  HYPERLINK "mailto:vienessafernandes@gmail.com" vienessafernandes@gmail.com or by regular mail: P.O. Box 73, Casco, ME 04015.
McClellan: I already do that. I have a weekly e-mail I send out to anyone who wants to receive it. All representatives and senators have a weekly e-mail ghost-written for them. I write this one myself. I post a variety of information so that people know what I am seeing in Augusta and I openly take feedback. Many of my best conversations are with people who are in regular disagreement with my beliefs. I write regularly for local papers, if they will accept it. My phone and e-mail are available and I am known to get back to people quickly. I also currently have a weekly e-mail to Casco and Raymond residents. During the session, I have an e-mail that goes to local educators weekly letting them know what bills the education committee will see and seeking their thoughts. If elected, I will seek Casco educators for the e-mail to join the Raymond and Poland educators. It is a lot of work, but both are informative and helps me process as well.
Willey: If elected, I plan to keep my constituents up to date through community projects and a website. Accessibility and transparency is extremely important. Everyone should be able to easily find out what is going on in their community. I also like the idea of writing an article in the local papers.
Q. Finally, answer the following, “I would be the best candidate for this job because…”
Fernandes: I am not going to be a one dimensional, one issue legislator. I do not operate from a personal agenda or platform, or rigid ideology of any kind. I will have a fresh approach and work diligently with anyone, creating new ideas to solve problems.
McClellan: I would be the best candidate for this job because I plan to serve all three communities as evidenced by my attendance (as the only candidate) at a variety of venues throughout this campaign. I have lived in Raymond, used the schools of Poland and worked in Casco so I know each community well. I have great relationships with each town’s Town Manager. In four years, I have shown I represent my constituents and seek their ideas and feedback. They may not always like what I do, but they know that I have a strong core value system that is not affected by politics or party. I look forward to working as hard for Casco as I am known for in Raymond/Poland.
Willey: I would be the best candidate representing District 66 because I am District 66! I have lived, worked, taught and have been educated in this district my entire life. I raised my family here. I came back here by choice! I love all that my community is and can be.

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