Special election pits former legislator against businessman

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CUMBERLAND — Two candidates with strong ties to Cumberland are competing in a special legislative election June 11 in state House District 45.

They hope to complete the unexpired term of former state Rep. Dale Denno, D-Cumberland, who resigned from the Cumberland-Gray seat March 27 and died April 16 from lung cancer.

Democrat and former state Rep. Stephen W. Moriarty, and Republican Kevin C. Hughes, better known as “KC,” are the candidates for the term that expires in December 2020.

KC Hughes

Hughes has spent the past 28 years helping to run LT’s, a Portland custom apparel decoration and branding business named for his mother, Linda Tobey.

“I’ve had my nose to the grindstone … so to go out and run for office was never something I ever had an opportunity to do,” Hughes said.

But with both of his children now in college, he said he has more time to give back to the community where he’s spent more than four decades.

Hughes said he offers “a different perspective, more than anything else,” citing his experience running a small business. “I’m definitely a fiscal conservative,” he said, “because we can never spend money we don’t have.”

He said is he “a little afraid of all the spending that’s going on (in the Legislature, and) our taxes going through the roof.”

While Hughes said he supports the philosophy behind a bill that would set minimum teacher salaries statewide at $40,000, he doesn’t know “how we’re going to pay for that,” because the pay scale mandates that longtime employees receive more, too.

Hughes said he is concerned that if the economy slumps, “where’s this money going to come from? … We’re going to have to reel it in just a little bit; we can’t give everything away.”

He said he will seek greater balance in Augusta, where he believes many lawmakers are simply voting the party line. “There’s got to be somebody that can walk across the aisle and talk to people with common sense,” Hughes said.

He also called himself “a huge conservationist.”

“We’ve got to protect what we’ve got; we are so lucky to live here,” Hughes said. “I’ve traveled a ton … and there is no place better than the state of Maine.”

Steve Moriarty

Moriarty’s history of public service includes 22 years on the Cumberland Town Council and the past four on the Cumberland Planning Board. He said he would remain on the latter panel if elected to the House.

The former lawmaker was elected in District 45 in 2012, but served only one term, citing “business considerations and the challenges of serving in Augusta while simultaneously keeping the commitments of a full-time career.”

But Moriarty said he never lost interest in working in the Legislature. After retiring last December from the law firm of Norman, Hanson & DeTroy, the 36-year Cumberland resident said he wants to devote his “time and energy to public service, to the greatest extent that I can.”

Moriarty said his years on the Town Council and Planning Board, as a member and chairman, puts him “in a particularly effective position in which to advocate for, and aggressively represent, the interests of the people of the district.”

The development of clean and dependable sources of energy that are compatible with Maine’s environment and tradition, and weaning the state off fossil fuels, is one of his goals – an effort that goes hand-in-hand, he said, with the creation of good-quality jobs.

He said he also supports economic development and the expansion of employment opportunities, and education at all levels, “to grow our economy and meet the changing needs of Maine employers.”

Moriarty also cautioned against using state revenues meant to be held in reserve to fund new spending.

The state should be “very cautious with dipping too deeply into reserves or excess sources of revenue,” he said. “… It’s important to maintain a healthy, viable cushion in the event of ultimate downturns in the economy.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Kevin “KC” Hughes

Age: 63.

Residence: Greely Road, Cumberland.

Party affiliation: Republican.

Family: Divorced with two children.

Occupation: Co-owner since 1991 of LT’s, a family owned embroidery, screen printing and promotional product business in Portland.

Education: University of Maine at Orono.

Political/civic experience: Former Falmouth/Cumberland Chamber of Commerce president, Greater Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce board of Directors, chairman and board member of the Val Halla board of trustees, American Heart Association board, Kidney Foundation golf chairman, and other volunteer positions.

Website/social media: “KC Hughes for House” on Facebook.

Steve Moriarty

Age: 69

Residence: Oak Street, Cumberland.

Party affilitation: Democrat.

Family: Married, two children and one grandchild.

Occupation: Retired attorney, Norman, Hanson & DeTroy, Portland

Education: Bowdoin College.

Political/civic experience: Maine House of Representatives (2012-2014), Cumberland Town Council (1987-1993), Cumberland Planning Board (since 2015), Long-Range Planning Committee, Main Street and Route 100 advisory committees, Veterans Monument Committee, Charter Committee, Food Pantry volunteer, Cumberland Historical Society board of directors, Volunteer Lawyers Project, Portland Adult Education volunteer.

Website/social media: stevemoriarty45.com.

Hughes 

Moriarty

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