New voices to the state political scene will face off on Election Day in the race for House District 118, which encompasses much of Somerset County including parts of the Unorganized Territory.

Democrat Philip Estabrook, a school teacher from Cornville, and Republican Chad Grignon, a geothermal and well drilling business owner from Athens, will vie for the seat vacated by three-term incumbent Rep. Larry Dunphy, the unenrolled legislator from Embden who is not seeking re-election.

The high costs of running a business in Maine and finding ways to boost the state contribution for education are on the minds of the candidates, who disagree on the issue of Medicaid expansion in the state.

Grignon, 43, said he is not afraid to talk politics and was encouraged to run for office.

“My passion was noticed, and I was kind of asked to put my money where my mouth is,” Grignon said. He said he knows people in Maine cannot always afford “the basic things” and wants to shake things up in Augusta.

“My biggest issue is taxes on small business and energy costs,” Grignon said.

Estabrook, 39, decided to run to bring a more “reasoned and moderate voice” to the State House. He said the tone in Augusta often is “very toxic” and would work to bring both sides together to get the business of government done.

For Estabrook, education is a primary issue. School funding continues to be a challenge, he said.

“The inability of the state to properly fund its portion of the ed budget puts a huge amount of pressure on property taxes for municipalities,” he said. “It comes at a time when municipalities are struggling immensely with property taxes with the closing of businesses, the closing of mills.”

Grignon said Maine is not competitive when it comes to attracting and keeping small businesses in the state. He said jobs are leaving the state for New Hampshire because of too many regulations, income taxes and excise and sales taxes on equipment. He said the high cost of energy in the state is stifling manufacturing, and he would work to change that. He said the low cost of electricity in neighboring Quebec, Canada, also is stealing good paying manufacturing jobs.

He said he would eliminate the state income tax, which he said would have more people working and spending more money in the local economy. A sales tax on goods and possible food and lodging taxes could make up some of the difference along with eliminating frivolous state spending programs.

“My theory is let’s try to live within their means, and let people have their own money that they earn,” he said.

Grignon said the cost of health care is “out of control,” and he backs a bill sponsored by state Sen. Rodney Whittemore, R-Skowhegan, to allow competitive purchasing of insurance across state lines.

“I don’t care if it’s a right thing or a left thing, I want the truth,” Grignon said.

Estabrook said he is a proponent of Medicaid expansion, which he said would bring millions of federal dollars into Maine and produce jobs in the heath care sector. Grignon disagrees, saying he stood with the governor and his allies in the Legislature who oppose expansion as a handout to “able-bodied” people who’d rather get government assistance than get a job.

Estabrook said District 118 residents need to fight for their share of the state budget with state assistance for education and health care.

“I think the aging population that we have is a huge issue,” he said. “We also should have opportunities for small businesses where people are going to be producing on a small scale. Having state dollars that we pay come back into our district would offset some of the rising property taxes and may also help people to stay in the area rather than leave.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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