A businessman new to politics and an incumbent who says he wants to continue working for residents are competing for a state Legislature seat to represent parts of Oakland and Waterville.

Mark André, 42, of Oakland, faces Rep. Henry E. Murphy Beck, 26, of Waterville, in the race for House District 76 seat, which Beck has held four years.

André, a Republican, touted his experience running small businesses in the landscaping and fishing industries as a reason he is the best candidate, in a state that desperately needs jobs.

Beck, a Democrat, said that during his four years in office, he has worked hard to provide balanced and dependable representation for constituents, worked well with people on both sides of the aisle and successfully sponsored bipartisan legislation that helped small businesses invest in jobs.   

André, the owner of Thornridge Farms Nursery in Fairfield and a businessman for 21 years, said he is running for office because he understands how business works. He also wants to help create jobs, lower energy costs and decrease excise and income taxes.

“In general, I think we’re paying too much for gas and oil and we need to reduce fuel and energy costs for the economy to move forward,” he said.

Lowering energy costs will give businesses more money for jobs and give people more money to spend at businesses, he said. He supports having natural gas and would advocate for energy policies that benefit people but still preserve the environment.

“I’ve worked in the environment my whole life and I know the difference between good environmental regulation and bad,” he said. “You can protect the environment and protect business at the same time.”

Beck, who served on the Waterville City Council before becoming a legislator, said the state needs to invest in higher education, reduce the cost of health insurance — which hinders both small and large businesses — and reduce the cost of energy. Sustainable job growth and good wages are important, he said.

“We need to invest in renewable energy and a natural gas pipeline,” he said. “If we can bring natural gas to places like Huhtamaki and Sappi, it will save money to invest in jobs and keep jobs here.”

Beck grew up in Waterville, attended city schools and has chosen to live there, he said. His voting record as a legislator reflects the values of the people and he has taken specific and active positions on the issues of the day, he said.

“I’m well-versed and experienced in issues of health insurance and credit unions and the legislative process,” he said.

For most of his childhood, André summered in North Belgrade at a family camp; he moved to Maine in 2003. He said he has been an advocate for his daughter, who is physically handicapped.

Both candidates agree that job creation is the biggest single issue facing the state. They both said they work well with people of other parties.

“I’m a small-business owner, so I don’t involve myself in partisanship; I involve myself in what works and what doesn’t,” André said.

“If I get to Augusta, I want to listen to everyone and listen to ideas that are going to benefit the people of Maine.”

Beck voted against cuts to early childhood programs that would affect facilities, such as Educare Central Maine in Waterville. He also opposed cuts to prescription drug assistance for seniors.

He supported budget amendments to stop changes that would adversely affect pensions of retired teachers and other workers. He said he is proud of his record and eager to serve.

“I want to stress that I am a Democrat, but I work with both sides of the aisle,” Beck said. “No matter who is governor or the majority, I try to advocate for constituents and do the right thing.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247
acalder@centralmaine.com