Election 2016: House District 66
House District 66
Towns: Casco (part of), Poland (part of), Raymond (part of)
Incumbent: Michael McClellan, R-Raymond
Challenger: Jessica Fay
Jessica Fay: The first time Jess dipped her toes in Sebago Lake, she was two weeks old.
When her dad went from active duty Navy to the Reserves and took a job at General Dynamics, Electric Boat Division in Groton, Conn., that is where the family settled.
Her mom was active in the Navy Wives Club and League of Women Voters, and later in town government. It was during this time that Jess, as a child, “began” her career in public service, quietly coloring maps in the conference room of the town hall while her mom attended planning board meetings.
Jessica attended Simmons College in Boston and graduated with a B.A. in Sociology. She met her husband Kevin and, as young adults, they moved to Maine. Settling in Raymond was like a homecoming. After having spent most summers at the family fishing camp in town, built by her grandfather in the mid 1950s, Jessica made the Lake Region her permanent home.
Jess created her own job by opening Raymond Village Florist in November 2000. After 15 years, based on the changing retail environment, her business now focuses solely on weddings and events as Maine Lakes Wedding and Event Florist.
Michael McClellan: I am Michael McClellan of Raymond. My wife is Michelle (educator) and my children are Maggie and Pat (young adults living out of state). My faith is my biggest strength. We moved to Raymond in the 1980s and after attending that year’s town meeting, I became hooked in participating in the life of my family’s community. I have been elected twice to the Raymond School Committee and once as a selectman. In that time, I also was in both my children’s classes as a volunteer. I served on various Raymond committees and also coached three sports, boys’ and girls’ teams. My children attended Poland Regional High School and so we spent years in that school system and in volunteering and participating.
I chaired the committee that worked to get the Raymond Elementary School built, very proud as in over 10 years about 40 people worked the process to get the school and almost none of us had our children attend the school — all people who did it for community.
I attend the Mechanic Falls Vineyard Church and am on the board of the Lewiston Root Cellar. I currently serve on the legislative committees Education and Cultural Affairs and Government Oversight. I am the Executive Director of the Maine Statewide Independent Living Council; we advocate for people with disabilities who seek more independent living.
Q1. Why did you decide to run for office/why did you decide to become involved in politics?
Fay: I am running because of my mom.
I was raised in a family that believes right-sized government is necessary to a civil society. My family has a multi-generational history of public service: elected, civil service, volunteer and military. Two years ago, my mom almost died during heart surgery, and over the three months she spent in the hospital, I learned how important advocacy is. An advocate can amplify and clarify our voice.
As the owner of a small business, I understand that we need to do more to encourage Maine businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and create good-paying jobs. Local businesses are more connected to their communities and are more likely to stay in Maine. I would like to be an advocate for Maine’s small businesses.
We all need a voice in our government. We deserve a representative that will work hard and understands that while we should be guided by our personal beliefs, the job requires compromise. Government does not function when our lawmakers take a “my way or the highway” mentality. It’s not about being right, it’s about doing what’s right.
McClellan: I was asked by members of my caucus when an opening to run occurred. I prayed about this and with my wife’s support decided to run. I moved to Raymond in 1987 with a young family and after attending that town meeting decided to become involved in my community. This included in the schools, coaching and in community work. This seat has been the natural progression.
Q2. What strengths do you feel you bring to the position?
Fay: Communication, empathy, patience and organization. I have been working hard running my own business for 16 years and have focused on quality and customer service. A florist needs to be able to ask good questions and come up with creative answers, to understand a client’s needs and deliver. I have been doing this successfully for 16 years.
A business owner needs to be organized, flexible and patient. All excellent qualities for a representative.
McClellan: I have always been involved in my communities (Raymond, Casco and Poland) so I know the people and have been very open to listen and feedback. I have communicated with my towns weekly since I was first elected. I have been told often by constituents that my response time is a great strength. I am not tied to my party as Republicans can and do disagree with each other. My faith guides me through good and bad and my core values help me make decisions that are most often based on how a family would decide. I get and respect that this is your money we are playing with. My experience will have me being asked to lead at least one legislative committee for my caucus. My belief in how great this country has been and can be is an advantage for me.
Q3. How do you plan to make a difference?
Fay: I will focus on being accessible to my constituents, to listen and to understand their concerns. When our representatives take a partisan stand instead of looking out for what is best for the district, we lose an opportunity to create good legislation to address issues like the creation of good-paying jobs, the opiate epidemic and property tax increases that threaten seniors ability to stay in their homes.
McClellan: I am passionate and not afraid to speak the truth, not afraid of political correctness “rules.” Many seek these positions to have them. I seek mine to serve you. I have positive relationships with people on both major party sides. I have worked and passed bills that serve my communities and you. I do not simply bring my own list of bills to pass. I am not afraid to be the one who speaks out when government is doing things that will not benefit the people. I will always be thinking this is your money.
Give your position on the following referendum questions:
Q4. Marijuana legalization?
Fay: In theory, I support the legalization of marijuana for adult use, but the way Question 1 is written, it’s too vague and creates some serious problems. I’d like to see a bill on an issue as complicated as this go through the committee and hearing process.
McClellan: I will vote “no” on this. It is clear when talking to experts, school officials and law enforcement that this is a bad idea. A recent federal study shared or confirmed the many dangers of this drug and that this is a gateway drug. The political speak of “taxing it” so communities will come out ahead is an old song, heard before on many other issues. It won’t work on this issue either. The new monies will just be used by political machines.
Q5. Taxes on incomes over $200,000 for public education?
Fay: I support this referendum question because the legislature hasn’t been able to live up to its promise to fully fund aid to education and that negatively impacts our property taxes.
McClellan: I will vote “no” on this. The referendum to fund education at 55% (state and 45% local) passed many years ago and the Democrat governor, Democrat house and Democrat senate as well as teachers’ union did not do what was voted on, what you asked for in voting. Why do we expect that the politicians in Augusta will now take more/different monies and do what is asked? We do know from looking at other states that when you tax the “so called” rich, they will use legal ways to shelter their money or even move. How funny we call $200,000 rich in Maine. This tax may well include many small businesses, which do not believe they are “rich.” We also know it is when you cut taxes, that we see more money taken in. I, for one, am tired of politicians splitting us into boxes by race, gender and bank accounts. This simply causes many of us locally to bicker back and forth and forget the real issues like jobs and health care.
Q6. Background checks on gun sales?
Fay: Law-abiding, mentally-healthy people have the right to own a gun. But when someone with a violent criminal background or mental health problems might be a danger to others, we need to know. Having said that, I have concerns about how the question is written and its impact on law-abiding citizens. I will be voting “No.”
McClellan: I will vote “no” on this. Our Second Amendment is clear…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. Pretty clear. We need to get back to trusting the high number of people who do follow the laws of this land and not make them adjust for the few who do not. We know the Federal Government is not prosecuting people who should be prosecuted for gun violations. What is that about? We know the places that have the strictest gun laws (Washington, D.C. and Chicago) have nonstop gun violence. As in all these referendums, there are details here that would make this bill even worse than you know, if enacted. We want law-abiding citizens, who are comfortable to carry.
Q7. Increase in the minimum wage?
Fay: Every adult who works full-time should be able to earn a living.
McClellan: I will vote “no.” In Seattle, they passed a minimum wage bill and restaurants began closing before the law was even started. Another easy one to track, this story (job losses) follows minimum wage laws around. When I was young and the government less intrusive, we were poor and still had a home, car, insurance (provided as incentive to my dad) and many other things. We had these things because the business did not have to send so much to the government. As government took more and more, businesses could pay less. Have you ever seen the tax chart on your gas pump? How much the oil company gets and how much taxes go to government? This bill will affect other wages (tied in to minimum wage by union contracts), causing more businesses to close. This idea is a job killer.
Q8. Choice voting initiative?
Fay: When I talk with voters, almost everyone agrees that there should be reform in our system. Ranked-choice voting could be a part of that change.
McClellan: I will vote “no.” This concept is illegal, unconstitutional. However, I have heard that there are politicians who have a bill ready to amend the constitution if it wins. That does not feel right to me. This referendum also is skewed; it would give some (not all) people two votes. While you may see that it could help make sure the politician you don’t like won’t win, it could also take your favorite out as well.
Q9. Transportation bond?
Fay: Yes, investment in our infrastructure is an investment in growing Maine’s economy, particularly in rural communities.
McClellan: I likely will vote “no.” I am against bonds as a rule. I believe that if it is important, it should be in the budget. That is how you and I budget at home. Bonds are a great tool for a new idea or to deal with a problem, however we simply spend money other places in Augusta because we know you will bond for roads. It needs to be said that bonding is borrowing, it needs to be paid back.
Q10. What do you feel are the three most important issues facing the state, and how should these matters be addressed?
Fay: I think the most important issues depend on each voter’s individual story.
For the senior citizen who is worried about how she is going to afford to stay in her home, property taxes are a huge concern. The state needs to live up to its obligation to fund schools and increase revenue sharing.
For the small business owner who is trying to grow a business, having workers trained with the skills to do the jobs they are hiring for is so important. We can continue to improve collaboration and communication between the business community and educators to make sure we are educating our kids for tomorrow.
For the family who is worried about the terrible impact of opiate addiction, making sure we take a comprehensive approach toward ending the epidemic is imperative. By making sure that treatment is available to anyone who needs it, investing in prevention and education, and making sure that law enforcement has the tools it needs to lock up the dealers we can tackle this life threatening problem.
McClellan: Healthcare, education and illegal drug climate.
These three are not ranked in order, each is important. ACA, Obamacare has wreaked havoc on the healthcare system. Yes, some people benefited and yes, many were hurt. Why not start with a program that would help all? Prices have jumped and the initial promises of how wonderful this would be are long forgotten through this painful program. Did you get the $2,500 check you were promised? When I think about people who share how great it is, I think to the children’s tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” If they tell us it’s great enough, many will believe it. We need to allow the market to come back, allow insurance sales between states as in auto insurance. Create competition — that will drive down costs. We must look closely at what we force insurance companies to provide (raises costs) and find a middle ground. I believe government exists to take care of the needy and to help people who need a step up. We need, in some ways to do a relook at everything. Government keeps expanding the list of who is needy. We are forcing too much regulation and so the costs are off the wall. Medicaid expansion would crush the state. Washington would pay the bulk for three years and then hand it to us, an enormous bill. Schools or you would likely pay those bills
Education. We have made the schools the caretakers of children. Schools feed, provide day care. With all these responsibilities, we then get mad when they can’t educate. I have tried to put in legislation that would remove unfunded mandates (legislature creates a task and says the local community should pay). I have had some opposition from the education lobby groups who apparently like extra rules and that you pay for them. I have an idea how to get this done and if you send me back to Augusta, this will be a passion.
Illegal drug climate. There is so much here. I think I actually have grown on this one a bit. I think we need to create heavy laws that really slam the dealers and the businesses who are poisoning our people, our kids. I also think we need to look at the people and kids who are caught up in this poison, who are addicted and treat them. I am aware of a few statewide, faith-based programs that have had incredible (85%) results in tough love and in follow through. Why not look at what is working for them? It is my prayer that our society/culture will begin to look at ourselves and how we need to return to supporting families and things (not perfect) that have worked over the ages.
Final comment: Your opportunity to make any final comment or pitch to voters.
Fay: As your state representative, I will be accessible and available to everyone in Casco, Poland and Raymond. I plan to hold regular “office” hours so that anyone can come and discuss their concerns. Whether you’re an elected town official, a teacher, a small business owner, a parent, a retiree, a hunter or farmer — my job will be to represent all of House District 66 in the legislature.
In these days of gridlock and partisanship, we can elect people who are willing to set party aside and go to the statehouse to work with others in order to solve the problems that concern all of us. Let’s support small businesses, senior-friendly communities, fight the opiate epidemic and work together on the other issues that are most pressing in our cities and towns. I would be honored to have your vote.
McClellan: Things have changed a lot in the past six years. There were things I agreed with the Democrat Party six years ago, they have changed and I have stuck to core beliefs. The choices in this race are two people who are good people, but who have very different ideas how to solve problems. I will not go along with bad ideas simply because of political correctness or my party. I believe in God, this country being great, family, the rule of law and in participating in the process of community, be it to clear a hiking trail or to be your representative in Augusta. I want to be your representative and will work as hard for you in 2017 as I did in 1987 through today. I am asking for your vote. God bless you all!