AUGUSTA — The race for House District 57 pits a Democrat who cites her experience and expertise in the legislative process against a Republican who says it is time for change.
Democrat Patsy Crockett, who served two terms in the House of Representatives from 2006 to 2010, and Republican Matt Pouliot, vice-chairman of the Planning Board, are both seeking to represent District 57, which consists of part of Augusta.
Pouliot, 25, said it is time for new ideas and a fresh perspective from outside state government, which he could provide as a small business owner, active member of the community and a young person who chose to stay in Maine. He said he would work to find non-partisan, common sense solutions and help foster a business-friendly environment so jobs can be created and people who might otherwise leave the state to find employment can stay in Maine.
“It really is time for a new voice in Augusta,” said Pouliot, a Realtor at RE/MAX Capital in Hallowell and owner of Alliance Properties, a real estate management and investment company. “We need leadership that is engaged and energized, leadership that truly believes in non-partisan solutions to the serious problems we have in Maine. I have demonstrated that leadership at the local level and seek to bring that same leadership to the state house.”
Crockett, 72, who before her time as a state representative worked as a lobbyist for Howe and Co. for 11 years, said her time serving in the Legislature gives her the knowledge to understand the state budget and legislative process. She said 18 bills she sponsored were signed into law, including jail consolidation legislation she said saved taxpayers $8 million.
“I have a proven record that I can do the job of being a legislator,” she said. “I worked with many businesses to see that state government is responsive to their needs, working on tax reform and regulations they face every day. It takes time to learn the legislative process and with my experience I can hit the ground running. During these difficult economic times that is very important.”
Crockett, a Cony High School graduate, said one of the most important issues facing the state is attracting more good-paying jobs. She said ways to do that include making sure the workforce is better educated and trained to meet the needs of today’s businesses, and reviewing tax credits and eliminating those which aren’t helping create jobs and instead offer tax credits to new businesses willing to prove they will pay good living wages and benefits.
Pouliot, who holds a bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Maine at Augusta and is a graduate of the Kennebec Leadership Institute, said the most important issue facing Maine is the challenging state of the economy as it transitions from one based on manufacturing to one based on knowledge and services. He said the best way to help ease that transition is to improve education and training to make sure Maine’s workers learn the skills employers need today.
He said the most common concern he’s heard while knocking on doors campaigning has been high taxes, especially property taxes. He said recent cuts at the state level created a gap in the city budget that resulted in a local property tax increase. He said he would work hard to make sure costs are not simply shifted from the state to the city.
Crockett said Augusta was hurt by cuts made by the last legislature, including the elimination of state funding for an intensive case manager who helped police in Augusta deal with people with mental illness, and the state’s decision to place mental health patients found not criminally responsible for committing violent crimes in group homes in residential neighborhoods, because of budget issues.
She said such patients, and the community, would be more secure if they remained on the grounds of the state’s east side office complex adjacent to the Riverview Psychiatric Center.
Pouliot said he is running because he wants to be part of making the changes necessary to keep Maine on a path toward long-term posterity for generations to come, and his involvement in local organizations including the Augusta Downtown Alliance, Rotary and Junior Achievement, has shown him what it takes to get people to rally around good ideas.
“I truly want to make Maine a better place to live,” said Pouliot. “Being the legislature is not about power or prestige for me. It’s about serving my community.”
Crockett said she is running because she believes she can make a positive difference to improve the lives of Maine families.
“I have sponsored legislation that was signed into law that has saved taxpayers money, helped families have a better quality of life and kept families safer,” Crockett said. “I serve on the Kennebec Behavioral Board of Directors and as vice president of the Childrens’ Center — these two boards have helped me understand how just a little help from state government can make the quality of life better for not only the children but also for families.”
Keith Edwards — 621-5647