Election 2016: House District 71
House District 71
Towns: Norway, Sweden, Waterford, West Paris
Incumbent: Tom Winsor (R)
Challenger: Michael Twitchell (D)
I am 57 years old and have lived in Norway with my wife, Chris, for the past 26 years.
I am a second-generation drywaller, a trade I learned from my dad at age 13.
I served on the Norway Board of Selectmen for the past two terms (2010-2016). I enjoyed working with the other board members and the community.
I am a Mason with the Paris Lodge #94.
My wife and I are members of the First Congregational Church in South Paris.
I moved from Waterford to Norway about 30 years ago. I am married and have three adult children and four grandchildren.
I was self-employed in real estate in the Lake Region and Oxford Hill for more than 40 years.
I have been a state representative for 14 years, and have served 12 of those terms as a member of the Appropriations Committee.
I worked six years as the elected Register of Probate of Oxford County, and as a member of the SAD 17 School Board for six years representing Harrison.
Q1. Why did you decide to run for office/why did you decide to become involved in politics?
Twitchell: When I worked at the State House, I met then Gov. Baldacci, who had served with my late cousin, Don Twitchell, and he encouraged me to go into public service. And, a good friend of mine, the late Kurt Palmer, had served as a selectman.
Winsor: My father was involved in political activities and campaigns while I was growing up and he taught me that our representative republic only works when folks involve themselves in the discussion.
Over the last 40 years or so, I have been privileged to be elected and to serve in a number positions. Over the years, I have volunteered to serve my community in service clubs and as a board member of several nonprofits. I offer my experience and point of view to my legislative district.
Q2. What strengths do you feel you bring to the position?
Twitchell: I am able to listen to both sides of an issue without forming an opinion. I am always ready to listen to community members and what is important to them.
Winsor: I am a good listener, and have a proven ability to work collaboratively with everyone.
Q3. How do you plan to make a difference?
Twitchell: By working with the communities and serving all the people in the district. I want my voice to be their voice.
Winsor: I will continue to advocate for policies that encourage economic growth to keep and provide more secure jobs
Give your position on the following referendum questions:
Q4. Marijuana legalization?
Twitchell: I believe in medical marijuana, but not in the legalization of recreational marijuana because I am concerned about children using it.
Winsor: We all acknowledge addiction to be a real and serious issue in Maine and around the country, and yet at the same time we are talking about allowing the recreational use of another powerful drug.
My concern is the message we are sending to your children and mine about the use of an emotional altering drug while we have little understanding of the long-term consequences of its use.
We have spent billions of dollars to deal with the results of prescribed opiates, alcohol and tobacco products. The social and medical costs of these safe-to-use products continues to be high. Reports from Colorado and Washington States are mixed. The law enforcement communities there feel ill-equipped to deal with impaired driving, workplace issues, infused candy-like products and so on.
I think we should reject this proposal now and wait for a few more years to see how this experiment in Colorado and Washington plays out.
Q5. Taxes on incomes over $200,000 for public education?
Twitchell: I believe it is important for our children to get a better education and we all should contribute per our wages.
Winsor: I think this is a bad idea for several reasons. First, the fact we could vote by referendum a tax surcharge on any one group of people will discourage economic growth. Investors/job creators like consistency and predictability in government policy and this type of proposal will not give them comfort.
Singling out the people who are already paying the highest percentage of income tax collected in this state is just unfair and will discourage these talented and productive folks from moving to or remaining in Maine.
Q6. Background checks on gun sales?
Twitchell: I believe in leaving that the way it is in Maine.
Winsor: The Maine Constitution, Article 1, Section 16 reads: “To keep and bear arms. Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.”
It seems rather odd to me that to exercise a right, which is guaranteed to all Maine citizens would require a government permit.
Background checks do not screen for mental illness, or for those who hold political or religious views advocating violence.
Q7. Increase in the minimum wage?
Twitchell: I believe there should be an increase in the minimum wage.
Winsor: Increasing the minimum wage may seem like a good idea, but the last time we did this in Maine, I did not see it help people much except in the short term. It also made it more difficult for new workers and young people to get entry-level job experience.
This bill will also change the way the hospitality industry pays wait staff by eliminating tip credit. I suspect that the ability of these workers to receive tips will be reduced so they will work longer hours for less money in their pockets.
Q8. Choice voting initiative?
Twitchell: I would like to learn more about this question. For now, “No.”
Winsor: Both Attorney General Mills and Secretary of State Dunlop have said that this proposal does not conform to the Maine Constitution on how elections for governor and the legislature must be held. I agree and will vote “no.”
Q9. Transportation bond?
Twitchell: Yes, we have an aging infrastructure. It would increase commerce.
Winsor: Yes, this is important for the maintenance and improvement of our transportation systems.
Q10. What do you feel are the three most important issues facing the state, and how should these matters be addressed?
Twitchell: Drug issue, poor Internet in rural Maine, property taxes, and health care and prescription benefits for our aging population. By trying to work together and come up with viable solutions.
Winsor: Economic uncertainty, out migration of young people, and addiction issues seem on most folk’s minds.
I argue that if our economy is strong, then we have the ability to work on many issues. I believe that government has a roll to play by creating an environment, which rewards those who are job creators. One is to have consistent and predictable rules and regulations that are believed fair. We also should look carefully at state policies that are out of alignment with other states to see if there is opportunity to improve our ability to keep our youth and to improve employment.
Final comment: Your opportunity to make any final comment or pitch to voters.
Twitchell: Like my fellow Mainers, I work for a living and should be wisely spending our tax dollars.
Winsor: I am pleased to be a candidate, and wish to continue to support programs that will create jobs, that improve fiscal responsibility, and reduce our tax burden.
I promise to listen to all sides of an issue and use my experience in government and in the private sector to make the best choice possible.