Election 2016: House District 68
House District 68
Towns: Baldwin, Cornish, Naples, Parsonsfield (part of), Sebago
Incumbent: Christine Powers, D-Naples
Challenger: Rich Cebra
Cebra: I am Rich Cebra. I am happily married for the last 25 years to my wife, Philippa. We have two great kids and a grandson. Ian, our son, who is 24 and is married to Sarah, served in the U.S. Navy, and is currently a private military contractor. They have a little boy, Teddy, my grandson. Rachel, our daughter, who is 20, is a student and works with the intellectually- and developmentally-disabled.
I am currently enrolled at Liberty University as a full-time student studying for my degree in Religion and Theology. For the last 16 years, Philippa and I have been the owners of a tourism-based seasonal business in Naples.
I have served in the Legislature in the past, and on numerous Naples town and regional committees when asked.
Powers: I have lived in Naples for over 23 years, and in the Lake Region area for almost 30 years. I worked and volunteered in SAD 61 for over two decades and worked and volunteered at the Naples Public Library for two decades. I currently work at the Black Bear Cafe in Naples and have been there for almost three years. I am the proud mother and grateful friend of an amazing young woman, Kelsey Powers.
Q1. Why did you decide to run for office/why did you decide to become involved in politics?
Cebra: Although Governor LePage has personality issues, his policies, which I helped implement many of in 2011 and 2012, have begun to turn Maine around after 40 years of liberal progressive domination in state government. There is a lot of work to do, and with my experience and relationships built over eight years of hard work in Augusta, I believe I could help bridge the gap in Augusta and help get everyone pulling in the same, smaller smarter government direction.
Powers: It has been a privilege to serve as a state representative for the last four years. When I went out on my own as a young adult in the 1980s, a family member told me that the most important thing I could do was attend town meetings wherever I lived. I followed that advice and found myself questioning local officials and was frustrated understanding the process. Those questions and frustrations led me to run for local office on the Naples Board of Selectmen. I was surprised and humbled to be elected to serve in that capacity. After several years of service at that level, I was asked on multiple occasions to consider running for state representative. Again, it was quite humbling to gain the support of the majority of the voters in my district and I continue to be grateful for their faith in me.
Q2. What strengths do you feel you bring to the position?
Cebra: Experience and common sense conservatism, founded on limited government principles, a belief in local control, and a desire to make Maine better for my kids and grandson.
Powers: After 15 years serving as an elected official, I can tell you that I have never considered myself a politician. This work is always challenging, sometimes rewarding and at times frustrating, but I have never lost sight that I am a public servant. Every day, I strive to listen to the voters concerns, consider my personal views and strike a balance based on the individual issue and how it affects my community and my state. I will continue to say that given the current atmosphere in politics, the best way forward is to work together to make a difference.
Q3. How do you plan to make a difference?
Cebra: Hard work as before, constant communications with people in the district, teambuilding, steadfast determination to advance limited government principles.
Powers: Given the current atmosphere in politics, I strongly believe that the best way forward is to work together to make a difference. I have forged some great friendships and working relationships with members of both of the major parties in Augusta who serve in each chamber. I will continue to foster those relationships and work diligently to find common ground.
Give your position on the following referendum questions:
Q4. Marijuana legalization?
Cebra: It’s a terribly-written question. The idea may have some merit, but not with this mess of a referendum question.
Powers: It is time for the legalization of limited amounts of marijuana for adults over 21. I believe this issue should be addressed at the federal level and I supported legalization through co-sponsorship at the state level. Unfortunately, state legislation on legalization has failed in Augusta, but I am happy to see that the citizen’s initiative was successful in getting this question to the voters this November. Adoption of this question this will free up law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes. It will create in new jobs and it will bring in money that we can invest in our infrastructure, education.
Q5. Taxes on incomes over $200,000 for public education?
Cebra: This is a bad idea. This question will not benefit our area one bit! The class envy behind this bill, that somehow successful people aren’t paying “their fair share” is class warfare and pits good Mainer against good Mainer. It divides and points at a group of people and says that they are the reason for our foolish and archaic school funding mess. They are not, and there are better ways to fund our education than squeeze more out of Mainers. Also, more money does not mean better education. It never has, period.
Powers: Maine students deserve more from the public education system than we as a state have been offering over recent years. Again, it is unfortunate that in Augusta we have not been able to ensure that our public schools receive the promised funding from the state. I applaud the volunteers and organizers for bringing this important question to the Maine voters, and I believe that this proposal is one important tool that must be utilized to ensure all of Maine’s children have fair access to a great education.
Q6. Background checks on gun sales?
Cebra: This question is a foolish idea that doesn’t actually fix any problem that exists in Maine. This new law would only makes good citizens into criminals for things they may have been doing for decades. Mainers are already required to legally transfer firearms. It is utter foolishness to suggest otherwise. I encourage everyone to vote “no” on Question 3. The Maine State Constitution says Mainers have the right to keep and bear arms, and this right shall never be questioned. Question 3 is unconstitutional and a bad idea for Maine. Question 3 is a Bloomberg-influenced, bought-and-paid-for lie. Bloomberg and his ilk should fix their own problems in places like New York City and leave it to Mainers to take care of Maine.
Powers: Maine has a long, proud history of responsible gun ownership and respect for the Constitutional right to bear arms. Most Mainers acknowledge that along with that responsible ownership and respect for the Constitution comes a responsibility for sensible checks and balances. Along with the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, I support this question.
Q7. Increase in the minimum wage?
Cebra: No, this puts an unneeded burden on small businesses, artificially raising the cost of doing business in Maine. The people in favor are lying about the facts, almost all minimum wage earners are not heads of households. They are mostly young work-learners. I oppose this measure.
Powers: I continue to struggle to make ends meet personally as a member of the middle class. Maine families deserve a fair and strong economy that works for everyone. I supported, co-sponsored, and testified in the Labor Committee on a minimum wage increase. I support most aspects of this citizen’s initiative, but I do have reservations regarding how this will be phased in and how well it would work for tipped employees.
Q8. Choice voting initiative?
Cebra: Rank Choice Voting is more than likely unconstitutional. I oppose this screwy shell game that messes with our electoral process.
Powers: There are a lot of issues with our politics in this day and age. I feel strongly that adopting Ranked Choice Voting is an efficient and cost-effective solution to begin addressing many of the issues we currently face as citizens and politicians.
Q9. Transportation bond?
Cebra: I actually support Transportation Bonds that are paid out of the General Fund. This brings more money into our infrastructure and uses sales tax money collected in transportation items sales that would otherwise get lost paying for something else in the general fund directly to our highways and transportation needs.
Powers: Having served as member on the Transportation Committee for the last four years, I know too well that we are at a critical juncture regarding our infrastructure funding. Bonding is one tool to which we have access that will help address that funding crisis. It is my hope that this ballot measure will be supported by Maine voters, and that the 128th Maine Legislature will accomplish what we failed in the 127th regarding other tools that may be available. All options need to be explored to help us properly fund the construction and maintenance of our highways and bridges, as well as properly funding our ports, harbors, marine, aviation, freight and passenger rail and bicycle and pedestrian needs.
Q10. What do you feel are the three most important issues facing the state, and how should these matters be addressed?
Cebra: The three most important issues facing the state are energy costs, taxes and retaining existing, and bringing businesses to Maine. We can change regulations to lower energy costs and lower taxes, which helps everyone, and these things would help businesses, which bring jobs and more money to all Mainers. A better business climate brings more revenues to the state and our towns without raising taxes. High tides lift all boats.
Powers: Balancing the needs of our state’s energy consumption while protecting the environment, improving and enhancing education, and providing good paying jobs for Mainers are in my opinion three of the most important issues we currently face.
Final comment: Your opportunity to make any final comment or pitch to voters.
Cebra: I believe that government should follow the model of classical liberalism, which is a philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government and the liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets where the government should only do those things that the private sector cannot do better or more efficiently. I bring this philosophy to everything I do.
Powers: In my first two years in Augusta, I represented the towns of Naples, Casco and part of Poland. In the last two years, I have represented Naples, Sebago, Cornish, Baldwin and part of Parsonsfield. I will continue to serve those towns if re-elected. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as state representative for the members of those communities. I thank you all for your trust and your support and I hope to secure that trust and support for two more years.