Two U.S. military veterans will square off Nov. 8 in the race for the seat in House District 105, which consists of the towns of Cambridge, Canaan, Hartland, Palmyra, Ripley and St. Albans.

Joel Stetkis, 50, of Canaan, the Republican incumbent, is seeking a second term in the Maine House of Representatives. He is being challenged by political newcomer Joshua Hartford, 38, a Democrat, also from Canaan.

For Stetkis, a self-employed carpenter, protecting small businesses, securing jobs for the future and eliminating the state income tax are top on his list of goals. Hartford, a union worker, said protecting jobs for the working class and keeping taxes down for Maine’s older population are his top priorities.

“The most important thing is to create an environment in the state of Maine where businesses can start and businesses can grow,” Stetkis said, noting he has had to lay off employees because of the drop in the new housing market. “In Maine, small businesses are the backbone of employment.”

Stetkis said the state income tax structure is standing in the way of hiring and creating jobs, so he would abolish it. He said the model can be seen in Massachusetts where there is a 5.2 percent flat tax on income. In the state of New Hampshire, he noted, there is no state income tax at all.

Stetkis said the formula is simple: If you have more jobs, you have more people with money making purchases and paying sales, excise and other use taxes that would make up for the lost income tax.

“You’ll have more people contributing into the pot,” he said.

Hartford said he wants to fix the broken political system for the benefit of the working people of Maine, not special interests.

“There’s a constant squeeze on the working class, paying for the rich. I don’t like to see corporations and big money get away with not paying their fair share of taxes,” Hartford said. “And I don’t have any problem supporting people that need a hand up.”

Hartford said the key to growing the economy is creating good-paying jobs, especially in central Maine. The answer, he said, is to provide incentives for small businesses and to attract big businesses to the state, including paper mills.

He said the solution is to sit down with members of both political parties to compromise on how to fix the state economy.

“We’ve got to be open-minded, because we’re just watching jobs go away,” he said.

Stetkis said after serving two years in Augusta, he has seen areas where there could be savings in state government. He said thousands of state jobs are not filled, but the state s is till raising money to pay for them. He said while the money sits there, state politicians put their hands into the cookie jar for pet projects.

He said he will continue to work to prioritize how tax dollars are spent. Other issues, he said, include properly funding nursing homes, assisting homeless veterans and intellectually disabled people, and revamping the funding formula for state aid to education and state shoreline property taxes.

Hartford said the state has to do a better job supporting retirees and Maine’s elderly on fixed incomes by keeping property taxes down and making sure that veterans and their families receive the benefits they have earned.

“I’m a hardworking, blue collar guy who puts work boots on every day to support my family and do what’s right,” he said. “We all need an opportunity to get ahead in life and by working hard. You should be rewarded with getting ahead in life.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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