Election 2016: House 70
House District 70
Towns: Brownfield, Fryeburg, Hiram, Lovell (part of), Porter
Incumbent: Nathan Wadsworth (R)
Challenger: Helen Rankin (D)
I have lived in Hiram for over 60 years in the house my husband built for us and our two children. I love this town and have always been active in the community. I volunteered in the School Lunch Program and eventually it became a full-time job. When we joined SAD 55, I became the School Nutrition Director for five towns. I decided to improve my education and eventually earned my Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern Maine. I expanded my horizons when I became a member of the Maine School Nutrition Association and the National School Nutrition Association.
Nathan John Wadsworth — 36 years old
Married: April Wadsworth — two children, Lillian and William
Forestry Company Manager, Current State Representative
Education: Sacopee Valley High School 1998 — Bachelor’s of Science in Economics, Montana State University 2003
Q1. Why did you decide to run for office/why did you decide to become involved in politics?
Rankin: As a member of Maine School Food Service Association (MSFSA), I was elected President and became the National Legislative Chair. For more than 25 years I attended Legislative Conferences in Washington, D.C. and had the honor of meeting Maine’s Representatives and Senators. When I retired, friends I had met when lobbying in Augusta convinced me to run for the Legislature. I decided, because of my nearly 50 years in School Food Service, my knowledge of child nutrition could be beneficial on behalf of children. Also, because I attended 16 different schools before completing the eighth grade, I have a great respect for teachers who guided me through those difficult years and this could give me an opportunity to work on behalf of Educators. The importance of a good education cannot be overstated.
Wadsworth: My family has always been civically-minded. My father was on Hiram’s Planning Board and a church deacon, my grandfather was a Hiram selectman. Even my fifth great-grandfather Peleg Wadsworth was a congressman. I always knew I was going to run for office and, when I was asked in 2014, I was ready.
Q2. What strengths do you feel you bring to the position?
Rankin: I have served three terms in the Maine Legislature with the great honor of serving on the Educational and Cultural Affairs Committee. During six years, I had 100% attendance and never missed a vote. I would bring an open mind and determination to do “the right thing.”
Wadsworth: I’m 36 years old so I have the energy to continue to put into the position. My degree in Economics helps me understand policy, taxes, and consequences of how legislation may affect us. Also, my two years serving as the incumbent gives me the foundation to continue working for the good folks of Southern Oxford County.
Q3. How do you plan to make a difference?
Rankin: Hopefully, Representatives will have better luck in the future. I am very grateful to those who have remained strong and loyal throughout this difficult Legislative session. I believe we can all make a difference if we are willing to compromise. We need to keep an open mind and be willing to accept new ideas. Surely, this should not be that difficult. I will do my best to advocate for improving the atmosphere and accomplish more good work for the citizens of our Districts. The governor needs to do his part. Our constituents have suffered too long because of the lack of human decency.
Wadsworth: I will continue making a difference by using my strengths mentioned above. One example: on the Route 302 rebuild ongoing in Fryeburg, I attended the DOT planning meeting in Fryeburg in January 2015. I met with the Deputy DOT commissioner about the project at the State House in the Spring of 2015. I had the deputy commissioner in Fryeburg in the Fall of 2015 to discuss consolidation of signage after the rebuild is complete. I met with the DOT commissioner in Fryeburg about the rebuild in August of 2016. I have met with constituents of Stanley Hill Road about their concerns of Route 302 rebuild five times, and then I got other State Departments involved on the Route 302 rebuild in September 2016. This is just one example of making the difference in Southern Oxford County. I love our community and I’m happy to put my energy into helping people.
Give your position on the following referendum questions:
Q4. Marijuana legalization?
Rankin: No for recreational use. Yes for medicinal purpose.
Wadsworth: I think there are pros and cons to legalizing marijuana for recreational use but at this point the use, sale and cultivation of marijuana as laid out in this question is still against federal law. I think Maine should wait until the federal government acts before taking this step.
Q5. Taxes on incomes over $200,000 for public education?
Wadsworth: I was happy to support both public education funding bills in the 127th legislature, but I have some real reservations about increasing state income tax on top earners. We all know people that claim residency in Florida or New Hampshire for the lower state income taxes, and if this passes Maine would have the second highest income tax to California. This would push small business owners over the border into New Hampshire, taking jobs with it. Both Gov. Baldacci and Gov. LePage have come out against this question and I am, too. I cannot support taxing more!
Q6. Background checks on gun sales?
Wadsworth: I believe Question 3 is the quintessential solution in search of a problem here in Maine where these types of gun restrictions are simply unnecessary. This is yet another case of a wealthy out-of-state special interest group using Maine as their guinea pig through our citizens’ initiative process.
I am an avid sportsman, endorsed by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and the NRA and I believe the Maine Constitution is very clear on this issue. “Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for the common defense and this right shall never be questioned.”
Q7. Increase in the minimum wage?
Wadsworth: According to the Maine Department of Labor, since 2010, the average wage in Maine has risen 12 percent without the Maine Legislature implementing a wage mandate. I would not be opposed to a small increase to the minimum wage but $12 per hour is just too high. If this passes Maine would not be able to compete with New Hampshire. This would also cause business owners to raise the price of their goods and services to offset the increase to their labor costs. While some people would see a raise in their wage to offset the price increases, this would disproportionately hurt the elderly and disabled among us living on a fixed income, who won’t see an increase in their income. If this passes, it would also eliminate the tipped credit which would actually decrease the income of anyone working in the restaurant industry who relies on tips. For these reasons, I oppose this question in its current form.
Q8. Choice voting initiative?
Rankin: Rank voting.
Wadsworth: I cannot support a system that makes voting much more complicated and confusing. If you look at the committee behind this initiative you will find that it;s made up of a majority of lobbyists. Why might you ask? Because lobbyists want to push their bills through and if the legislature is composed of all legislators from the middle ground then it’s much easier for the lobbyists. I have many democratic friends that do not want this. Janet Mills, our attorney general, wrote a legal opinion calling this type of voting unconstitutional.
Q9. Transportation bond?
Wadsworth: I don’t have strong feelings either way so I will let the voters decide.
Q10. What do you feel are the three most important issues facing the state, and how should these matters be addressed?
Rankin: 1. We need to address the issues between the governor and State Legislators. Mutual respect is essential. One person is not elected to be a dictator of the State, but a leader who is capable of delegating and, most importantly, listening to the valuable opinions of both sides of the aisle. A governor needs to bring the state forward not backward.
- Education is a high priority. We must be determined to educate our children to be prepared for a technological world.
- The Economy badly needs to improve. We must put our people to work. Otherwise we will have more serious problems than we have now. People need a salary that will provide them with the necessities of life.
Wadsworth: TAX REFORM/ BUSINESS CLIMATE — New Hampshire has no income tax and no sales tax. The town of Freedom, N.H., abuts District 70 and they have a lower property tax rate than the neighboring Maine towns of District 70. We cannot compete with our current tax rates to attract businesses or individuals to locate on this side of the border.
REFORMING WELFARE — I supported making it illegal to use welfare dollars to buy booze, lottery, tattoos, etc. There is still more to do to tighten welfare up so that our truly needy are helped. We all see the system abused every day!
FIGHTING THE OPIOID CRISIS — We need to continue jailing the traffickers and helping addicts recover. I attended the opioid crisis panel at Fryeburg Academy in August of 2016 and the panel said that this will take every one of us. If you see something, say something.
Final comment: Your opportunity to make any final comment or pitch to voters.
Rankin: I want our beautiful State to return to the days when we were very proud of what we have to offer, when everyone was treated equally and adults set the example with dignity and compassion. As a Legislator I would hope to contribute to that reality.
Wadsworth: I ask for your vote on November 8th. As I’ve campaigned door-to-door I have heard about how frustrated people are with politics. I want you to know that I believe in civility in politics and I have practiced that the last two years. I have not attacked my opponent in any way. I am a father, husband, and small business owner who loves his community and way of life, and I want to fight off out-of-state special interests who want to change that for their own benefit. I believe in living within our means, balancing our budget, and protecting our outdoor heritage. Thank you for being a voter!