Republican candidates for House District 82 share a concern over state spending but offer differing approaches for reining it in.
Randall Greenwood, of Wales, and Timothy McDonald, of Monmouth, are seeking their party’s nomination in the June 10 primary to represent the district that includes Litchfield, Wales and part of Monmouth. Both candidates have business experience, have served on various boards in their communities and counties, and say they would push for fiscal responsibility.
The winner will face Democrat Rachel Sukeforth, of Litchfield, in the November general election.
Greenwood, 41, is a 1991 graduate of Oak Hill High School in Wales and holds a bachelor’s degree in business management, leadership and organizational studies from the University of Southern Maine. Currently a manager at a payroll company, Greenwood is the former owner of Mixers Nightclub in Sabattus. Greenwood served a number of years on the Wales board of selectmen and has been chairman of the Androscoggin County Commissioners since January 2009.
Greenwood, who said welfare reform is the most pressing issue facing the state, is intrigued by Gov. Paul LePage’s push to prevent using welfare cards at specific businesses such as bars and strip clubs.
“I believe we need massive welfare reform, and we need to limit welfare to those who truly need it,” Greenwood said. “I have no problem giving somebody a hand up, but all we’re doing is keeping people at bay. We’re holding people back. We’re not allowing them to get to their full potential.”
McDonald, 59, graduated from W.F. Kaynor Technical School in Connecticut. A master electrician, McDonald for the past 15 years has owned TMac Computers, which offers business and residential sales, service and networking support. A Monmouth selectman for the past seven years, McDonald has served on local and regional economic development committees and is on the board of directors of the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments. Job creation is key to the state’s survival, McDonald said.
“Unless we grow our base of working Mainers, we will in short order not be able to afford anything,” he said. “One of the biggest obstacles to that is excessive regulation.”
McDonald said he considered purchasing land for a commercial venture on U.S. Route 202, a heavily traveled road that passes through Monmouth. He scrapped the plan when he discovered the cost associated with starting up the business.
“Before I even put up the first stick of lumber for the building, I would have spent over $100,000 on requirements, not counting the purchase of the land,” McDonald said. “The rules and regulations are incredibly burdensome for anyone starting a business, and I don’t see where they’ve gotten a whole lot better in the last few years.”
Stifling job creation has meant fewer people in the workplace and paying taxes at a time when more people are turning to state assistance. McDonald said the state, to ease the burden, has shifted cost to the towns by reducing revenue sharing and school funding. The result has been town and school officials scrambling to keep budgets in check while providing education and town services.
“The tax base is shrinking across the state,” McDonald said. “At some point it becomes very burdensome for folks to live here.”
Greenwood agrees the state must honor funding commitments for revenue sharing and education, but he said there must be an effort to clarify how much funding will be distributed and how it can be spent.
“When I was a selectman, I always looked forward to having that, but if it’s not there, it’s not there,” Greenwood said. “Municipalities shouldn’t use that as a revenue stream.”
Greenwood, who is married with three children, is concerned about the direction of education in the state. His daughter’s elementary school, Carrie Ricker, received an F in the state’s recent evaluation. Greenwood, who said the charter school initiative has already proven successful, would consider a voucher system that would allow parents greater latitude in where they send their children to school.
“Some schools don’t do as well as other schools,” he said. “Maybe if there was a more competitive atmosphere it might improve our schools.”
Greenwood acknowledges introducing a voucher system in Maine would be a difficult process, but McDonald said the state will be making a number of difficult decision in the near future. Dwindling money to towns and education will continue until lawmakers decide to make welfare cuts.
“People have to decide,” McDonald said. “I don’t think there’s enough money to do both. If we vigorously pursue economic development, most of those people will have an opportunity to have a good job with benefits. Let’s get them a job so they can get along. There are people who truly need help, but if we help everyone, then the people who truly need help aren’t going to get the help they need. You can’t sustain that.”
Craig Crosby — firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @CraigCrosby4