Democrats and Republicans are not known for seeing eye-to-eye on many political issues, but the two men running to represent residents in House District 53 might be an exception.
Democrat Timothy Marks of Pittston and Republican Raymond Soule of Wiscasset are both small business owners who believe the state must work to reduce fees and regulations that keep many would-be entrepreneurs on the sideline.
“As a logger I see stuff all the time,” Marks said. “This would be a little easier if there was a little less regulation. I probably don’t sound like a good Democrat, but I don’t claim to be a straight Democrat.”
Soule said he decided to run when he was encouraged to do so by a friend. Soule decided to shadow a legislator-friend to Augusta and decided while sitting in on a committee meeting that he had something to offer.
“As they were talking I had things in my head that I could have interjected,” he said. “I would have had something to offer. That’s when I decided I really wouldn’t be out of place.”
Marks and Soule, both relative newcomers to the political arena, are running for the seat held by Les Fossel, R-Alna. Fossel is leaving the House after two terms to run for the state Senate in District 20.
Marks, 52, and his wife, Tammy, have four children, two of whom still live at home. Marks retired from the Maine State Police 18 months ago after 25 years of service. For almost half that time Marks also did a radio segment on 92 Moose.
“A lot of people know me as Trooper Tim,” he said.
Marks is now a logger, selling pulp to the paper mills, and owns a storage business in Pittston.
He was elected to the Pittston Board of Selectmen earlier this year. Before that his political experience included five years as a document clerk at the State House after graduating from high school. As a trooper he helped forward bills through the chain of command that went on to become law. Marks said he had a hand in shaping the distracted driving law.
“I know the process well,” he said.
Soule, 70, and his wife, Susanne, have no children. Soule owns a small excavation business that at one time had as many as seven employees. He now works alone.
Soule graduated from Morse High School in Bath in 1959 and took some credit courses while working as transportation director for Wiscasset area schools for 17 years.
“Whenever anything came up that was free I took the course,” he said.
Soule has served on the Wiscasset Planning Board for 16 years where and worked with the budget committee for about a year.
Running a business has taught Soule he must not spend more than he can make. It’s a lesson he hopes to share in the State House.
“A balanced budget is obviously a biggie,” he said. “If you’re doing capital improvement that’s one thing but on a day-to-day basis you need to take in a little bit more than your spending.”
The state can improve the bottom line by fostering job creation, Soule said. To do that it must cut back on the regulations that hamper those who would start business. While on the planning board, Soule has seen a couple ideas for a new business on U.S. Route 1 that have been derailed by the state’s requirement for a $100,000 cut in the curb.
“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “There’s a lady here in town that’s been trying to start a redemption center. It’s unbelievable what she’s had to go through. It’s been two months and she still doesn’t have a permit.”
Marks, too, has noticed a burden placed on businesses. One of his friends used to be an organic farmer, but the fees and documentation required by state and local licensing agencies proved too much. The state collected the money and did nothing to try and sell the product, Marks said. His friend is now a natural farmer.
“He spent a couple thousand dollars a year for state licensing and didn’t get anything out of it,” Marks said. “If you’re going to regulate you ought to help them out a little bit.”
Marks said there sometimes a dearth of common sense at work in the State House.
“For every law we enact we ought to take one off the books,” Marks said. “Even as a trooper I felt it was a little too much.”
Beyond deregulation, Marks said the state can spur the economy by supporting various forms of education, from a traditional liberal arts program to vocational.
“I think we could always use more training and more education,” he said.
Marks also believes the state should be doing more to promote local food production, including vegetables, beef and fish, and consumption.
“I heard once we import our food 1,500 miles before it gets here. How healthy is that?” he said. “Can’t we do some of that here and grow our own. If we all bought local it would serve our economy so much better.”
Marks, who supports labor unions, said the government must be more transparent so that the public can stay informed about what is happening in Augusta and how it will impact their lives.
“I’m not a politician and I don’t profess to be one,” he said. “I’d like people to know I’m a hard working guy and I’m looking out for people in my district.”
Craig Crosby — 621-5642