Election 2010: House District 131 – part of Buxton and Hollis

27

James D. Libby, R

Age: 49

Address: 88 Union Falls Road, Buxton

Professional/political experience: 25 years in education, including the last nine at Thomas College; currently associate professor, business department chairman; 116th and 117th Maine Legislature (House) and 118th and 119th (Senate); several boards and commissions, including service on the Maine Labor Relations Board and Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging Advisory Board.

Personal: Wife Jennifer, daughter Grace, 5, and son, Brett, 2.

Q: How would your personal and professional experience allow you to be an effective legislator?

A: I served in the Legislature after the recession of the early 1990s, working with governors McKernan and King to improve the business climate in Maine. I led the effort to establish the business equipment tax rebate and the effort to reduce the state sales tax rate back to 5 percent. I was active on many other issues, including helping to rid the state of MTBE in gasoline and negotiating the tax increment financing agreement for the Poland Springs plant in Hollis.

Q: Maine is facing a projected shortfall of around $1 billion in the next budget. As a legislator, how would you deal with the shortfall? Would you raise taxes to meet the shortfall? If not, what programs and/or departments would you target for cuts?

A: It is clear that Maine, through the Dirigo Health program, has attempted to establish a centralized, taxpayer-based health care program. Dirigo has been a failure according to both Democrats and Republicans, and I would vote to repeal this program. In addition, streamlining higher education overlap, reducing the size of the Legislature itself, and cleaning up Maine’s out-of-control welfare system appeals to many Maine citizens.

Q: What are the top three issues you would work on as a legislator?

A: The first priority is to establish a business-friendly state. Consistent regulation and attention to the property tax is a good first step. My second priority is to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in Maine’s welfare system. Third, I think southern Maine deserves a charter school similar to the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone, which has consistently ranked among the top schools in the nation.

Q: How will you vote on the proposed casino for Oxford County?

A: This is on the November ballot. Since there is not a bill in the Legislature currently, I will be waiting to see the outcome of the referendum. I do not favor establishing a casino in Oxford since the wording of the potential law is exclusive of other projects. That is not a fair way to conduct business. I have always voted against gambling in Maine, however, I am considering authorizing table games at the already established Hollywood Slots racino in Bangor, since it makes little sense to me for Maine to have “half a casino.”

Robert Hunt, D

Age: 33

Address: 128 Depot St., Buxton

Professional/Political experience: Served in the 124th Legislature (2008-present)

Personal: Married

Q: How would your personal and professional experience allow you to be an effective legislator?

A: I am a teacher by trade. I got into teaching to help kids and I am just trying to help more people at the state level. I am also a real estate agent and before becoming a teacher I worked in mutual funds, so I have a nice blend of public and private sector experience. I pride myself on being accessible to my constituents. Every e-mail or phone call I receive will usually be returned within 48 hours. It has been an honor to serve the people of Buxton and Hollis, and I take the term “serve” very seriously.

Q: Maine is facing a projected shortfall of around $1 billion in the next budget. As a legislator, how would you deal with the shortfall? Would you raise taxes to meet the shortfall? If not, what programs and/or departments would you target for cuts?

A: As with any budget, it is important to look at actual figures when they come available. At this point, I don’t feel broad-based tax increases are the best route to help encourage a more robust economy. Therefore, balancing the budget would require belt tightening and more efficiency. My primary goal would be to retain any program that encourages or enables citizens to find work, or to continue to work. I would also work to eliminate programs that give the least return on investment.

Q: What are the top three issues you would work on as a legislator?

A: 1. The Maine business climate. We can do a lot to make Maine more business-friendly moving forward with a combination of incentives as well as taking another look at regulations. I know some businesses that need more than 10 licenses to operate. Too many.

2. Education. One of the leading indicators of future success is through a strong educational system. My goal is to get the state moving back towards meeting its 55 percent funding threshold for essential programs and services. This would also relieve some of the tax burden shouldered by property owners.

3. Assistance funding. I think we need to take another look at programs for helping citizens and make sure we are offering a hand up and not a hand out.

Q: How will you vote on the proposed casino for Oxford County?

A: We need jobs in Maine, but I worry about the longevity and the quality of jobs that would be offered by a casino. I also worry the increased accessibility to a casino will encourage more Mainers to gamble rather than focus on more important items closer to home. Obviously, it will be the citizens’ decision, but I am inclined not to support the proposal. We need jobs that will bring good pay and benefits, in my opinion. Of course, whatever the outcome I will respect the people’s decision.

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