Election 2016: Senate District 18
Senate District 18
Towns: Andover, Bethel, Buckfield, Byron, Canton, Dixfield, Gilead, Greenwood, Hanover, Hartford, Hebron, Lincoln Plantation, Livermore Falls, Livermore, Lovell, Magalloway Plantation, Mexico, Milton Township, Newry, North Oxford Unorganized Territory, Peru, Roxbury, Rumford, South Oxford Unorganized Territory, Stoneham, Stow, Sumner, Sweden, Upton, Waterford, West Paris, Woodstock
Incumbent: John Patrick (D)
Challenger: Lisa Kiem (R)
Life-long resident of western Maine. Active in the community.
Married 25 years to husband, Blue. Three children.
BS degree in Marketing and Leadership, University of Southern Maine
I am a 62-year-old journeyman mechanic for Catalyst Paper Company for the past 36 years, and was a former president of the United Paper-workers Union Local 900.
Prior to my time in the senate, I served four terms in the Maine House of Representatives, from 2000 to 2008. I am a member of the Labor Commerce Research and Economic Development Committee, as well as the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. I also serve on the Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission.
A 1972 graduate of Mexico High School and a lifelong resident of the River Valley area, I have been married to my wife, Claire M. Coulombe. I have three adult children and two beautiful grandchildren.
I am a past board member of the Maine AFL-CIO, as well as a past member of the River Valley Technology Center. I served four years on the St. Athanasius and St. John’s School Board, as well as three years on the SAD 43 School Board. I have worked for over 40 years helping local area non-profits raise monies for many worthy causes.
Q1. Why did you decide to run for office/why did you decide to become involved in politics?
Kiem: There are many reasons that I decided to run for office. The biggest reason, however, is Maine’s business environment. Maine’s population is aging because our children are leaving to seek viable employment opportunities elsewhere. This feels pretty urgent to me right now as my son is getting ready to graduate from college and is moving forward with a job opportunity in New York City. Too many of our children are leaving to find good jobs and build their careers elsewhere.
Patrick: I decided to run for office because I wanted to make a difference in my state and community. I decided to run for my fourth and final term because there are many important issues we have started to address but still need work.
Q2. What strengths do you feel you bring to the position?
Kiem: First, I am not a politician. I want to identify problems, talk ideas and plans, and find solutions. I am committed to take action and to using whatever leverage this position provides to be an advocate for economic development in western Maine. My passion for helping businesses be successful is also why I chose to pursue my degree in marketing.
Working alongside others is key to moving Maine ahead, especially listening to and understanding those with different viewpoints.
Patrick: My 40 years experience working with many local nonprofits, as well as my years as a legislator, make me ready to get the job done on day one.
Q3. How do you plan to make a difference?
Kiem: As I’ve been out knocking on doors and listening to the concerns of thousands of voters over the past months, I’ve gotten to know the people whose lives and futures are wrapped up in these communities. The struggles here are real, but so are the dreams. I plan to help by promoting growth and business development in western Maine. There is so much innovation and new industry coming to southern Maine. I want to explore how we can attract that kind of growth. We have the workforce and the drive. I want to see increased opportunities for the hard-working people who live here.
Patrick: I want to work to reform our outdated tax code to bring relief to Maine’s middle class and seniors.
Give your position on the following referendum questions:
Q4. Marijuana legalization?
Kiem: While medical marijuana is beneficial for many Mainers, we would be hasty in passing this ballot proposal without concrete impairment tests for highway safety. In addition, scientific evidence shows marijuana causes damage to developing brains. Recent research, reported in the New York Times, shows that brains are not fully developed until the age of 25. Our children need protection from this substance and a great deal of public education is required to increase widespread understanding.
Patrick: Do not support at this time.
Q5. Taxes on incomes over $200,000 for public education?
Kiem: One of the biggest flaws of this proposal is inequity. Large school districts such as Portland and Scarborough stand to gain millions while smaller districts, including many in western Maine, would receive little or nothing. We need to explore ways to ensure all of our schools receive the funding they need.
This tax increase would be counterproductive to attracting business and entrepreneurs to Maine. We can’t raise taxes on those doing well here, hoping to keep them and attract more. Maine needs jobs; tax increases are proven job killers. We can’t afford to make our state a less desirable home for job creators.
Patrick: I support.
Q6. Background checks on gun sales?
Kiem: If this proposed law passes, it makes criminals out of good people going about everyday activities. For instance, if a person leaves their gun in the car with another while they pay for gas, they are both breaking the law. This proposal is flawed in many aspects and diminishes our constitutional freedom.
Patrick: I am in opposition to Question #3.
Q7. Increase in the minimum wage?
Kiem: The issue here is one of definition. Minimum wage is not supposed to a livable wage; minimum wage is a learner’s wage. Many minimum wage jobs are held by our children, who benefit from them; teaching them skills and the value of work. This initiative will hinder businesses that are willing to take on ‘learners’ and train them at considerable expense. Most employers who want to retain valuable employees already pay them above minimum wage. As an effort to increase wages, this bill is unnecessary – market pressures already do that. It will hurt small business and decrease employment training opportunities for our young.
Additionally, given the significant increase proposed, a rate higher than many other more affluent states, economic studies are required to understand the dynamic effect this will have on consumers, producers and Maine’s competitiveness in the world marketplace.
Patrick: I support the minimum wage increase.
Q8. Choice voting initiative?
Kiem: This is probably the most confusing initiative on the ballot. It is likely unconstitutional, and therefore I do not support it. Moreover, would we really want to add this level of confusion into our voting process?
Patrick: I support the choice voting initiative.
Q9. Transportation bond?
Kiem: The Maine Legislature voted almost unanimously in favor of this bill, which is a great indication that this will be good for Maine.
Patrick: I fully support the Transportation Bond.
Q10. What do you feel are the three most important issues facing the state, and how should these matters be addressed?
Kiem: Business environment. We need to create tax incentives to bring new businesses here and keep existing ones. We also have to ensure our students are getting the tools they need to be successful and avail themselves of the high-paying, skilled jobs right here in Maine.
Energy. High electricity costs are one of the main reasons large businesses are reluctant to come to Maine. We need diverse forms of energy to keep the environmental and fiscal cost of energy lower.
Illegal drugs. We are finally starting to get serious as far as directing state resources to stopping the flow of heroin and other dangerous drugs into Maine, but more needs to be done on every front — prevention, education and rehabilitation. This is a crisis that is destroying lives and ripping apart families in rural Maine.
Patrick: The three biggest issues I hear going door to door are the need for livable wage jobs, health care and education.
Final comment: Your opportunity to make any final comment or pitch to voters.
Kiem: I will not go to Augusta intent on carrying out my own plans; the agenda will be set by you, the folks of western Maine. If you want someone who will listen, work tirelessly with you to make changes for the better, and pay attention to the details, then mark your ballot for Lisa Keim, a vote for change!
Patrick: No one has the silver bullet to solve these huge issues, but I will work in a bipartisan manner to try to solve these, as well as many other important issues facing the state I love.