On the Ballot: Tony Lorrain vs. Walter Riseman for House District 69

Note: Profiles arranged alphabetically since two new candidates are vying for the position previously held by Phyllis Ginzler, who is not seeking re-election.

House District 69 This race features two new candidates, Tony Lorrain (R) against Walter Riseman (Independent). D69 towns within the BN coverage area include: Bridgton, Denmark and Harrison.

Tony Lorrain

Candidate: Tony Lorrain, Challenger

Age: 56

Political Party: Republican

Family: Wife (Kim) and four grown adults (Ryan, Kyle, Tori and Adam), four grandchildren.

Education: Graduate of Oxford Hills H.S.

Occupation: Boat Builder, Mechanic (Sabre Yachts for 33 years)

Website: www.facebook.com/LorrainForMaine

Q.1 — What qualities would you bring to the position? I believe that I would bring an outside perspective and independent thinking to Augusta. I’m a working Mainer and truly believe the taxpayer deserves more voice in our state government.

Q.2 — How do you plan to contact/keep constituents up to date on issues? One thing I know our current Representative Phyllis Ginzler does really well is communicate with her constituents. She does this effectively through sending out Legislative Updates on a regular basis via mail, e-mail, as well as through social media. My son, Ryan, currently serves as the Legislative Aide to Representative Ginzler and he assists her with a lot of her constituent communications. I’m sure he would be an asset in this process.

Q.3 — How can the state strengthen education? In my opinion, there’s plenty of room for improvement and we must ensure the student is the number one priority. One area I’d like to see improved is developing more education in our trade industries and apprenticeship programs!

Q.4 — What can be done to increase economic development at the state and local levels? I believe this can be done by continuing the progress we’ve recently seen in Augusta under Governor LePage and Republican leadership. Unemployment is at an all-time low, our economy is strong, and now we must continue to build a business friendly environment.

Q.5 — There is increasing concern regarding access to healthcare. What is your concern, and what can be done at the state level? Our top priority needs to be making sure that our elderly and disabled — our most vulnerable — are our top priority. We have too many people on wait lists and this needs to be addressed.

Q.6 — What is your position on Question 1 regarding the use of tax dollars to provide home care for seniors and the disabled? Question 1 would result in raising taxes an additional 3.8% on middle-class Mainers. Passing this referendum would be bad for Maine and our economy. I’ll be voting no.

Q.7 — What is your position on Medicaid expansion? Medicaid expansion is very expensive. I also have concerns of expanding Medicaid to including more able-bodied and working-age adults without children. All the while we’re still not fully funding our wait lists for those who are truly in need.

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? We need to fix our referendum process. Too often, and again this year (Question 1 is a good example) we are witnessing special interest groups from out-of-state spending big money to persuade Mainers to pass bad legislation via the referendum process. It typically includes a tax increase in an effort to expand government. I believe this. More transparency would be a good place to start.

Second, we need to continue to address the drug crisis. At this point, most of us who live in our community know someone who has been affected by addiction. Progress has been made, however it needs to be addressed on an ongoing basis. Increasing education as a preventative measure, increased enforcement by providing law enforcement with the tools they need to succeed, and treatment options for those looking to get their life back together.

Third, continue to move Maine forward. Over the past several years under Governor Paul LePage, Senator Jim Hamper and Representative Phyllis Ginzler, we have seen our state economy thrive, unemployment reach all-time lows, and taxes reduced. Our state government is financially strong and bills are being paid. I’ll work to continue this progress.

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? As previously mentioned, this needs to be a top priority, however there’s no “silver bullet” when it comes to solving the opioid epidemic. I support a combination strategy which includes improving enforcement, treatment, and education. We need to address this crisis with strategy beyond throwing money at the problem and continually learn from what is working and what isn’t.

Q.10 — Complete the following, “The reasons I am the best candidate for the job is…” because like you, I’m a hard-worker, a taxpayer, and I believe that government should be a helping hand, not a handout. I’m a problem-solver who believes in common sense solutions and I would be proud to represent our area and the people of Bridgton, Harrison and Denmark.

Walter Riseman

Candidate: Walter Riseman, Challenger

Age: 70

Political Party: Independent

Family: Married 28 years, eight children (four biological, two step and two adopted), six grandchildren

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Business (BBA), Babson College

Occupation: Retired

Organizations: Currently — Treasurer, Tri-County Mental Health, Harrison Food Pantry Volunteer, Oxford Hills SCORE Chapter, Lake Region Collective Action Network. Past: Numerous organizations

Honors: 20 years participation pin with SCORE, Certificate of Achievement, Small Business Administration, Maine Development Foundation Leadership Maine graduate.

Website: www.walterriseman.com

Q.1 — What qualities would you bring to the position? Accountability, leadership, fairness, ability to listen, integrity, compassion, work ethic and years of experience in business management, planning, budgeting and community involvement.

Q.2 — How do you plan to contact/keep constituents up to date on issues? Social media, newspaper articles, personal contact and meeting with community and business organizations.

Q.3 — How can the state strengthen education? In my recent community survey of 20 district issues, education and schools ranked number three, indicating a significant community concern. Strengthening education can be accomplished using a couple of steps. As a first step, my plan would include a long-term commitment to stabilizing the financial resources for public education. This includes achieving consensus on the funding formula for districts, settling on a real plan to achieve the 55% mandated state share of education cost, and establishing a state-established school administrative rate to control costs of school district overhead.

The second step is to allocate more resources to help improve teacher pay and work to create innovative styles of classroom teaching to insure each student is inspired to learn and is receiving the best quality education possible.

Q.4 — What can be done to increase economic development at the state and local levels? We need to improve Internet access and availability, provide innovative job training programs, create incentives for graduating students to stay in Maine, and developing a marketing program to attract environmentally friendly industry.

Q.5 — There is increasing concern regarding access to healthcare. What is your concern, and what can be done at the state level? By far, the number one issue in my survey was healthcare; but what is meant but healthcare? In my conversations with voters, the top concerns included the status of the Bridgton Hospital, the cost and access to healthcare, and addressing the current substance abuse crisis in the region. I share those concerns. While the state has accomplished some positive results in these regards, overall the lack of support by some legislators and especially the governor has led to over a half dozen key pieces of legislation failing. This includes the Medicaid expansion, various programs to provide substance abuse treatment, and recovery supports for needy individuals and families, and creation of a state opiate “cabinet.” A serious study of healthcare costs in relation to the economy needs to be undertaken. This will help drive decision-making in regards the ways to reduce healthcare costs. Finally, the state can help strengthen the financial status of the hospital by reviewing rate structures and providing incentives to bring essential staffing to the rural hospitals.

Q.6 — What is your position on Question 1 regarding the use of tax dollars to provide home care for seniors and the disabled? While I am not in disagreement about the concept, I have a problem trying to carve out special revenues from the state budget to serve a specific wellness issue. We need to take the time to prioritize the financial requirements of all wellness needs and then make a thoughtful and informed allocation of resources we have available.

Q.7 — What is your position on Medicaid expansion? There are currently 80,000 to 90,000 individuals who would be eligible for this insurance. Without insurance expansion, these individuals and many others who can’t afford the cost of regular insurance will rely on free care or will go without healthcare. This will only lead to more financial and operational stress on our hospitals. Medicaid expansion is one critical component to help resolve the hospital issues.

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 top three issues are healthcare, environment and education. First, being the state with the oldest population in the country, we need to make sure we provide services to help this population age in safe and secure place. Second, our state’s natural beauty and resources are one of the state’s biggest assets. We need to make sure we are responding adequately to climate change and make sure we safeguard the environment. Third is education. If we hope to attract good jobs and have our children remain in-state, we must invest in our future by creating the best possible educational system for now and the future. Education also needs to include a forward-looking job training system that will prepare all our workforce for the industries of 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? In 2017, there were 418 overdose deaths in Maine, compared to 376 in 2016. While still at an unacceptable rate, the level in 2018 seems to have plateaued thanks to the efforts of many local groups and engaged citizens. It’s not just an opiate crisis what is really happening is a “wellness” crisis. This includes drug and alcohol abuse, elder abuse, mental health issues and suicide prevention. It is reported that six in 10 families are directly or indirectly affected by a wellness issue. I feel the best way to effectively fight these crises is to continue to develop a “hub and spoke” model approach. It will take a partnership between treatment, support and law enforcement professionals.

Q.10 — Complete the following, “The reasons I am the best candidate for the job is…” I am the best candidate for the job because I have the qualities and character to get things done. I will strive to bring civility back to Augusta and look for solutions to issues by communicating and listening and not be influenced by partisan politics.

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