A Winthrop Republican finishing a term on the town’s school board and an incumbent Democratic lawmaker who runs a farm in Winthrop are competing for the House District 81 seat on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Milton Hadley III, a retired teacher who also worked 25 years in the computer industry, is challenging Rep. Craig Hickman, who was first elected to the House seat in 2012, to represent the district that includes Winthrop, Readfield and part of Monmouth.

Hadley, 63, said his top concerns are lowering taxes, lowering debt and making Maine more welcoming to businesses. He expressed his support for the proposals Gov. Paul LePage, also a Republican, has made regarding the tax code. In 2013, LePage signed a bill repaying $183.5 million to 39 Maine hospitals. More recently, he has proposed eliminating the state’s income tax.

“I am running for State House because I am concerned with the direction our state and the country are going in,” Hadley said in an emailed statement. “I am concerned with what we are leaving to our children and grandchildren. At the same time I am concerned about keeping our promises to our seniors, retirees and veterans.”

Hadley continued, “Gov. LePage has been a great caretaker of the public’s funds: he has payed (sic) the hospitals, brought us out of debt, fixed retirement and cut waste. I want to insure that if we do end the income tax, that we are careful and make sure we are actually cutting taxes and not simply shifting them and raising people’s property taxes in the process. We can cut taxes by reducing the size and cost of state government.”

Hickman, 48, said that representing House District 21 “has been the highest honor of my life.”

He is running for re-election, he said, “because I welcome the opportunity to continue creating public policy that protects veterans, small businesses, working families, our natural resources and our personal liberties.”

Hickman said his policy goals also include reducing poverty, promoting food self-sufficiency and clean renewable energy and increasing investments in education, infrastructure and “rebuilding razed rural economies.”

Another goal, Hickman said, is remaining civil at a time when politics has become very divisive.

“All over the country, this is the most toxic election I’ve ever seen and it’s actually painful,” Hickman said. “I think people may be alarmed or may think there is power behind saying everything you want, but I don’t think everyone thinks that’s true. I don’t like people disrespecting the office they hold.”

As for qualifications, Hadley said he combines the business experience developed over 25 years working as a manager and consultant in the computer industry with the educational background he received as a teacher for 11 years and the public policy experience he received over three years on the Winthrop school board.

“I have had the opportunity to advise large organizations on technology infrastructure, architecture and strategic planning,” Hadley said. “This experience has also enhanced my basic business skills and given me a global perspective with multinational groups.”

Hickman said he is proud of several of his own legislative accomplishments, including resisting cuts to the state’s health and human services and being able to forge consensus across party lines as house chair of the joint standing committee on agriculture, conservation and forestry when Democrats were in the minority on that committee.

Hickman, who said he is an adoptee, also sponsored a bill passed in 2015 that banned the transfer of adopted children between families without approval from a court.

“That was the poetry of my life,” he said. “We did right by our children.”

Though Hickman said he is not trying to run for re-election “against anything,” he did express skepticism that LePage’s proposal to eliminate the income tax could be accomplished in a way that does not cause other taxes to increase to make up for the lost revenue.

Both Hickman and Hadley also spoke of the need for measures to address the opiate addiction crisis currently affecting the state and country.

Hickman called the crisis “a long-term problem” without “any magical solutions” and said he supports funding more treatment and prevention programs, including those that target children in schools.

“We have to work in a very creative way to do this,” he said.

With regard to opiates, Hadley again said he supports LePage’s ongoing efforts.

“Gov. LePage has also been a leader in addressing our opioid problem which affects us all,” Hadley said. “We need to continue to aid the first responders, educators and treatment groups working to solve this epidemic.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker


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