On the Ballot: Nathan Wadsworth vs. Warren Richardson for House District 70

Nathan Wadsworth

House District 70 Incumbent Nathan Wadsworth (R) against Warren Richardson (D). D70 towns within the BN coverage area include:  Lovell (part), Fryeburg, Hiram and Brownfield.

Candidate: Nathan J. Wadsworth, Incumbent

Age: 38

Political Party: Republican

Family: Married with two children

Education: Bachelor of Science in Economics, Montana State University

Occupation: Forestry Company Manager

Facebook: NathanWadsworthDistrict70

Q.1 — What qualities would you bring to the position? I bring youth, energy, and experience to the race. I’m currently raising a family in Maine so I understand the challenges of providing for them, caring for them and educating them right here in Oxford County. I also have the experience of serving two terms in the Maine House so I have built those connections in our state government and can get answers to my constituents’ questions quickly. I have the cell number of the governor, our congressman, and the DOT (Department of Transportation). It’s huge that I can shoot a text message about a problem and go right to the top as opposed to sifting through layers of bureaucracy.

Q.2 — How do you plan to contact/keep constituents up to date on issues? Over the past four years serving in the Maine House, I have worked closely with my legislative aide to provide a monthly newsletter that is available for constituents. It allows people to keep up to speed with what is going on at the Maine State House and also provides contact information where they can share their thoughts on specific issues. This allows me to better serve the needs of those I represent. I also have a Facebook page that is open to the public and I post as frequently as possible on that page.

Q.3 — How can the state strengthen education? During the past legislative session, we approved $162 million in new K-12 public education funding. The key here was the fact that the new funding included specific language to dictate how this money could be used. The answer is not simply throwing money at education but rather targeting that money to ensure it makes its way into the classroom or it is used to directly lower property taxes.

Q.4 — What can be done to increase economic development at the state and local levels? We must continue to lower taxes and reduce the burdensome regulations on our small businesses. Higher taxes are always a barrier to economic development. Over the past eight years, we have seen a 25% reduction in the income tax and it’s no coincidence that at the same time, we are now seeing the lowest unemployment rates in decades and the economy is booming. Your money is better spent by you, not Augusta politicians.

Q.5 — There is increasing concern regarding access to healthcare. What is your concern, and what can be done at the state level? Maine voters have made their decision and they have decided they want to expand the Medicaid program in Maine. The tricky piece to implementing this is figuring out how to pay for it. We just finished repaying Maine’s hospitals nearly $1 billion in unpaid MaineCare debt from the last time we expanded Medicaid because we did not have a sustainable funding stream. I would prefer not to go down that road again. Before this is implemented, we must find a sustainable funding stream that does not raise taxes on Maine people or Maine businesses; does not dip into our rainy day fund; and contains no one-time funding gimmicks. We should also take care of the severely developmentally-disabled and autistic Mainers as well as our elderly before we provide healthcare for able-bodied adults.

Q.6 — What is your position on Question 1 regarding the use of tax dollars to provide home care for seniors and the disabled? I oppose Question1 for a variety of reasons. It is a perfect example of what is wrong with our referendum process here in Maine. First of all, the Maine Legislature just approved roughly $50 million in funding to provide salary increases for direct care workers. What Question 1 would do is implement a $300 million annual tax increase on Maine people and Maine’s small businesses, and give an unelected board the power to spend that money. It also allows that unelected board access to private patient information that they have no right to. This is a terrible idea and for these reasons and many others, I strongly oppose Question 1. Under this question, Martha Stewart literally qualifies for home care as there are no asset tests or residency requirements.

Q.7 — What is your position on Medicaid expansion? As I said before: The Maine voters have made their decision and they have decided they want to expand the Medicaid program in Maine. The tricky piece to implementing this is figuring out how to pay for it. We just finished repaying Maine’s hospitals nearly $1 billion in unpaid MaineCare debt from the last time we expanded Medicaid because we did not have a sustainable funding stream. I would prefer not to go down that road again. Before this is implemented, we must find a sustainable funding stream that does not raise taxes on Maine people or Maine businesses; does not dip into our rainy day fund; and contains no one-time funding gimmicks. We should also take care of the severely developmentally-disabled and autistic Mainers as well as our elderly before we provide healthcare for able-bodied adults.

Q.8 — What do you feel are the three main issues facing Maine today and what are your ideas/plans to address these issues if elected? Finding skilled workers in Maine is another tremendous challenge here in Maine. This is commonly referred to as the “skills” gap. The job market in Maine is loaded with openings for high-tech machinists, welders and other trades. These are good-paying jobs with unbelievable benefits. We hear stories from major companies in Maine who are turning down millions of dollars in new work due to the lack of skilled workers. Perhaps making more of an investment in our community colleges and encourage the community colleges to continue partnering with private sector businesses. These partnerships include the donation of equipment for students to train on as well as communication and collaboration so the workers are graduating and ready to start work on day one. This is a huge opportunity for us to keep our young people in Maine and help our economy as a whole.

Addressing Maine’s broken referendum process is something we must address. It has become a regular occurrence for wealthy special interest groups, many from out of state, take advantage of Maine’s citizens’ referendum process, allowing them to get their issue on the ballot. These groups have get the bulk of the required signatures to get their issue on the ballot in Portland without setting foot anywhere else. Once they’ve succeeded in gathering their signatures, they spend millions of dollars on marketing campaigns designed to deceive the voters. It seems the original intent of the citizens’ referendum and the people’s veto was to allow everyday citizens, not wealthy special interest groups, to have a voice in public policy independent of the legislature. But that notion seems to quickly be becoming a thing of the past and Maine policy making is now commonly thought of as “a cheap date” for these special interest groups. The people living in Maine’s Second Congressional District have no voice in this process anymore. This needs to be addressed.

Q.9 — With the number of deaths caused by drug overdoses continuing to rise in Maine, what do you feel can be done to address the opioid crisis? I believe there is no silver bullet answer to solving the opioid crisis. We need a multi-faceted approach that includes more law enforcement to catch the drug dealers pushing this poison in our communities; more treatment options to help those that are addicted; and more education in our schools and communities to prevent people from going down the road of addiction.

Q.10 — Complete the following, “The reasons I am the best candidate for the job is…” my experience of having served as your state representative over the past four years and the proven results that have come along with it. Maine is now on solid financial footing for the first time in decades. Our unemployment rate is as low as it’s been in a half-century; we have passed the two largest income tax cuts in Maine history and state revenues are still far outpacing forecasts; and our economy is growing at an unprecedented rate. I look forward to building on the progress we have made. Thank you and I ask for your vote.

Warren Richardson

Candidate: Warren Richardson, Challenger

Age: 65

Political Party: Democratic

Family: Single

Education: BA English, Rollins College

Occupation: Small businessman

Organizations: Lovell Planning Board, the United Way of Oxford County, Fryeburg Water District, Fryeburg Conservation Committee

Honors: Graduated first in class, Rollins College, with Honors in the Major

Website: www.facebook.com/WarrenRichardsonForStateRepresentative

Q.1 — What qualities would you bring to the position? I am able to work effectively with people of differing political persuasions and backgrounds. My decades-long experience as an entrepreneur has provided me with insights into the problems faced by small business people. I have gained experience in local affairs by serving on various committees, elective and appointed. In the process, I have become skilled in bringing people together and at helping those who hold opposing views to compromise and to reach consensus.

Q.2 — How do you plan to contact/keep constituents up to date on issues? I believe that face-to-face contact works best in communicating with constituents. I will respond in a timely manner to every phone call, letter and e-mail from every district resident, and will keep citizens informed through e-mails, press releases, newsletters and news media articles. In addition, I will visit every town in my district at least once a week for as long as I serve in Maine’s Legislature.

Q.3 — How can the state strengthen education? The best investment imaginable lies in improving the minds of our young people and in giving them the skills for life and work in the 21st century. Our state must fulfill its legal obligation to fund 55% of education costs. We also must enable our teachers to teach skills required for success in the new economy. Every student, for example, should be taught computer science. Finally, we must resist the impulse to weaken school funding through the ill-advised tax breaks known as TIFFS. I successfully helped to lead the opposition to such a tax break sought on behalf of Nestlé and Poland Spring in Fryeburg. If this TIFF had passed, it would have drained hundreds of thousands of dollars from SAD 72. This, in turn, would have lowered educational standards while increasing the upwards pressure on homeowners’ property taxes.

Q.4 — What can be done to increase economic development at the state and local levels? Maine is at a crossroads. We are 41st out of the 50 states in per capita income. Yet our southern border lies only a few dozen miles from the wealthiest and most dynamic economic region in the world — the Boston to Washington corridor. We must find better ways to leverage our closeness to this marketplace, ones that draw upon our strengths in skills and in natural resources.

This is why I am enthusiastic about the wood product known as high-tech timber. This new building material is being increasingly used for all types of construction projects and holds tremendous promise for our state. It plays to our strengths in timber resources. It will provide renewable markets for loggers to replace those lost by the relative decline of the paper industry. It cuts greenhouse gasses by 85% as compared with more traditional building materials such as concrete and steel. Crucially, it offers a way to build a 21st century economy in rural Maine through its intensive use of computer-aided design and control and clean manufacturing processes. This will enable more of our skilled young people to stay in Maine. There is no reason why Maine cannot become the high-tech timber capital of North America.

If Mainers at all levels of society — state government, industry, trade associations and private citizens — make the necessary efforts, this new economic model of advanced and innovative products using local natural resources and 21st century skills can become a reality.

Q.5 — There is increasing concern regarding access to health care. What is your concern, and what can be done at the state level? Medicaid expansion is a good start. This expansion will reduce by over half the number of people who are uninsured. The ultimate solution to the problem of health care access, however, is one that is not wholly in Maine’s control. As a state with the highest average age in the country and a lower than average per capita income, Maine lacks the resources to provide first rate universal coverage on its own. The problems that prevent access to care are national in scope, and will ultimately require national solutions.

Q.6 — What is your position on Question 1 regarding the use of tax dollars to provide home care for seniors and the disabled? I noted the concerns that many have expressed about some of the provisions of Question 1. These reservations about constitutionality and funding mechanisms are sincerely held and should be taken seriously. However, as one who cares for an elderly parent in her own home, I can attest to the advantages that home care can bring. Home care reduces pressure on already overburdened nursing and assisted living facilities. As the baby boom generation ages and the demand for care increases, home care will become an increasingly important and necessary part of our health care system. In addition, most of our elderly would very much prefer to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. In conclusion, I will vote in favor of the question and work in the legislature to address the problems that have been cited.

Q.7 — What is your position on Medicaid expansion? I believe that Medicaid expansion is essential if our rural hospitals are to become financially stable. The large number of patients who lack resources and health insurance has become an intolerable burden for health care providers. Medicaid expansion passed by large margins statewide and in every town in my district. It is time to honor the will of Maine’s voters and fund our share of the expansion. If our hospitals begin to close or to cut services because of a lack of proper funding, all rural residents — and not only those who lack health insurance — will suffer.

Q.8 — What do you feel are the three main issues facing Maine today and what are your ideas/plans to address these issues if elected? The three major issues on the minds of my constituents — health care, water resources protection and economic development — have been dealt with in various parts of this questionnaire, together with proposed solutions, so I believe that there is no need to cover the same points again.

There is a larger issue that concerns Maine and the nation, one that concerns me greatly. The decline of civility in the political process is placing great stress on our institutions and, I believe, threatens the future of democracy itself. Free societies cannot survive if people belonging to different parties and with legitimate though opposing viewpoints come to regard each other as enemies.

Fortunately, this has not been the case in House District #70. My opponent, Nathan Wadsworth, and I decided early on that we would reject negative campaigning and instead focus on the issues. By our actions, we have shown that candidates from different political parties and viewpoints can compete without being disagreeable. In doing so, I believe that we have set an example for candidates statewide. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Wadsworth for his contributions to a rewarding and informative campaign, and I wish him and his family well for the future.

Q.9 — With the number of deaths caused by drug overdoses continuing to rise in Maine, what do you feel can be done to address the opioid crisis? If there were an easy answer to the complex factors that lead to opioid addiction and abuse, it would have been discovered long ago. I am not a health care professional, so I have sought out the views and expertise of those who are. There is a consensus among professionals that our communities need more beds for the long-term treatment (defined as 30-plus days of care) of addiction. We can and should address this critical gap in Maine’s health care system.

One hopeful sign is the advent of Medicaid expansion in our state. The most effective drug in relieving the symptoms of opioid addiction is Suboxone. Unfortunately, the cost of this prescription is $200 or more, well beyond the means of some who suffer from addiction. Medicaid expansion will provide affordable access to Suboxone for these patients for the first time.

Q.10 — Complete the following, “The reasons I am the best candidate for the job is…” Whether I am the “best candidate” or not is for the voters to judge. My goal since the beginning of this campaign has been to focus on the issues that have the most impact upon the lives of our district’s residents and to propose workable solutions. In House District #70, the massive extractions of our groundwater by the powerful Nestlé Corporation seem to be foremost on the minds of many of my constituents. In my visits with them, I have found a nearly unanimous belief that Nestlé and Poland Spring are getting much more out of their bottling operations than the people and our towns are getting in return. District residents very much want this unequal relationship to change, and I am committed to working for this change. Maine must share more equitably in the wealth that its groundwater has created and its people must have a greater say in the way that this precious resource is managed.

I believe that my support for affordable health care and my proposal for increased long-term care for those addicted to opioids will help to improve the quality of life in rural Maine. The loss of any of our health care facilities would be catastrophic for our region. The ongoing opioid addiction crisis is costing lives and demands urgent action. Following through on Medicaid expansion is the best and quickest way to deal with these problems.

I believe that the most important quality that a legislator brings to the job is the ability to listen and to learn about the needs and viewpoints of others. If the people of my district choose me to represent them in Augusta, I pledge to keep an open mind, to listen carefully to their concerns and to collect all the facts before arriving at any decisions.

Please follow and like us: