Election 2016: Senate District 19
Senate District 19
Towns: Bridgton, Brownfield, Denmark, Fryeburg, Harrison, Hiram, Naples, Norway, Otisfield, Oxford, Paris, Porter, Sebago
Incumbent: James Hamper (R)
Challenger: Joseph Chisari (D)
I am 46, married for 19 years, raising two sons.
1023 King Street, Oxford
Married to Lynn, 40 years.
Residential carpenter, 43 years (37 years employed by Bartow Construction of Otisfield.
Two adult children and four grandchildren.
Served in the Legislature 12 years; House 122nd-125th and Senate 126th-127th
Q1. Why did you decide to run for office/why did you decide to become involved in politics?
Chisari: The reason I am running is to help bring about positive change.
Hamper: My decision to run for office was 18 years ago after my predecessor was elected. I job shadowed him in January that year and watched the proceedings and decided I could do that job. Six years later, I was and have ever since.
Q2. What strengths do you feel you bring to the position?
Chisari: My strengths are 20 years of experience in running my three growing businesses in Maine. It’s taught me many things like coming up with solutions to challenging problems.
Hamper: Experience. I have been in office long enough now to see that everything old is new again. Twelve years experience in Augusta gives one a different perspective on the issues we face. I have assumed a teaching role with new legislators and I always try to bring a calming influence to all my dealings there.
Q3. How do you plan to make a difference?
Chisari: I would like to make a difference with health care in our state. State healthcare laws supersede federal laws on healthcare. I will bring healthcare costs under control. I speak the healthcare language and we do not have many legislators with that kind of experience in Augusta.
Hamper: As always, I try to keep the lines of communication open to all serving in the Capital. Legislation and law making work best with communication that goes both directions
Give your position on the following referendum questions:
Q4. Marijuana legalization?
Chisari: I against this question, to legalize marijuana. Most people who are not sick that I’ve spoken to do not want to take medication for recreation. In this case, less is more.
Hamper: I will be voting No. Deep down, I am concerned about the societal consequences of legalization.
Q5. Taxes on incomes over $200,000 for public education?
Chisari: I support education and really believe that we need to support our teachers, however, I am not in favor of question 2, which would levy a 3% income tax on income $200,000 or greater. We can create laws to support education without burdening the taxpayers any further.
Hamper: This a great way to punish achievement. Maine has a hard enough time recruiting doctors and dentists. Try selling them the idea of coming to Maine and oh by the way, we are going to tax you at a rate of 10.15% on your earnings. I am voting No.
Q6. Background checks on gun sales?
Chisari: Yes. Question 3, which requires background checks for gun sales made by an unlicensed dealer, makes an exception for when the parties are hunting or sport-shooting and in transfers between family members. I say “if it makes our city streets safer during the heroine epidemic and does not take away the gun rights of honest people due to the the exception, this makes it possible for me vote yes. If there was no exception, I would vote no.
Hamper: Question 3 is far too broad and makes many practices between friends a felony. I am voting No.
Q7. Increase in the minimum wage?
Chisari: I will vote No on Question 4, to raise the minimum wage to $12/hour by 2020 because it would definitely overburden businesses. I would support raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2020, but $12 would be too costly for Maine small businesses. The cost of living goes up by 100% every 15 years. A 33% increase from where we are now by 2020 is sustainable, which is $10 per hour.
Hamper:Voting for this is a vote for unemployment. The youth who would be starting out in the labor market will pay the price for Question 4. I will be voting No.
Q8. Choice voting initiative?
Chisari: Rank choice voting, I am a No. You make a choice and stand by it.
Hamper: How many ways can I say it is against the Maine Constitution? I will be voting No.
Q9. Transportation bond?
Chisari: Yes, this is much needed road work and infrastructure repair. We can’t say No.
Hamper: I will be voting Yes. Maine needs to maintain its roads, this one is a must.
Q10. What do you feel are the three most important issues facing the state, and how should these matters be addressed?
Chisari: When asked what is the most important problem facing the legislature, I say healthcare.
However, another important issue is social and economic development.
The insurance and drug industries that provide prescription opiods, should come to the table and be more involved at the state level. It has come to light that these drugs are more addictive then once thought when originally proposed to the FDA. Instead of finger pointing, lets come together to consider solutions. Over the past two decades, there are also concerns with over pricing of both medications and insurance premiums affecting all patients, doctors, healthcare workers, hospitals and communities negatively.
There is a definite issue of accountability because of the economic, social and emotional burdens these unresolved challenges have placed on all our communities. I’ll get to the bottom off it.
Hamper: Lowering income taxes by controlling state spending and improving the business climate by making Maine more attractive to business owners through our taxation. More welfare reforms, which will enable DHHS to prioritize spending. Continued efforts to curb the opiate crisis through enforcement, treatment and education.
Final comment: Your opportunity to make any final comment or pitch to voters.
Chisari: I believe in issues that matter to us all and try to understand all points of view. We all basically want the same things for our families and communities. We all want to live, to love to learn and to succeed. I welcome respectful, decent, varying ideas can only make us stronger as a state.
Hamper: I want to thank the voters of District 19 for their continued support. Experience does matter.