For the second election in a row, a Democrat form Chesterville is challenging the incumbent Republican in the race for the House District 114 seat.

Guy Iverson, chairman of the Chesterville Board of Selectmen, once again is running against House District 114 Rep. Russell Black, R-Wilton, a three-term incumbent. In the 2014 race, Black won with 2,777 votes.

Iverson, who calls himself a conservative Democrat, said he is running for the seat again because he wants to improve the lives of the local people by fighting for them on a statewide level.

“I think I can make positive changes, I want to fight for the property owners,” Iverson said. “I have a good understanding of what is going on at the local level.”

As a representative who has served three terms in the district, Black said he’ll be ready to get to work for his constituents on day one if re-elected.

“I’ll be ready, as soon as the election is over, to start working,” Black said. “(My constituents) know that when I am behind something, it is an important issue.”

Both Iverson and Black are concerned about property taxes, especially given the state of the job market in the area. Increasing state revenue sharing is a way that the candidates agree could help the burden property owners are facing with their annual tax bills.

However, Black noted that with a state budget made of tax dollars, the revenue has to come from somewhere. In order to relieve the budgetary stress, and therefore taxes, Black said Maine needs “a smaller state government, not a larger one.”

Black also said the state needs to find a better way to fund education, given that paying for education “is hugely based upon local property taxes.”

Iverson believes that the state needs to invest in its citizens, and in addition to helping homeowners by lowering property taxes, it should offer incentives for people to make their homes more energy-efficient.

He favors creating incentives for homeowners to install heat pumps in their homes to keep their fuel bills low. Iverson also suggested offering interest-free loans to homeowners who want to install solar panels on their homes.

“I would really look hard at the solar industry,” Iverson said.

Iverson said a program of that nature also would serve as “jump-starting” the solar industry in the area, creating much needed jobs. With paper mills “slowly dying,” Iverson said, legislators need to focus on how to bring forward-thinking jobs to the region.

Black, a lifelong Wilton resident, former logger, construction worker and farmer, said he is concerned about the current state of the woods industry, which is having a profound effect on the availability of good-paying jobs.

Black cited energy costs as a big factor that is harming the industry, and said if the state focused on how to use more hydropower, it could make it easier for businesses to afford to be in Maine.

Regulatory constraints on people trying to start businesses are also a concern for Black, who said that a web of regulations makes it difficult for small businesses to get off the ground. He said he is not necessarily in favor of cutting regulations, but making the permitting process more efficient.

“We’ve just got to streamline regulations and be more business-friendly,” Black said.

With his hometown, Wilton, serving as the gateway to many of the outdoor recreation attractions that western Maine has to offer, Black said promoting tourism could help bolster the region.

Black also favors promoting agriculture in the area, including focusing on how the maple syrup industry can tap more trees to increase production.

Both Iverson and Black support equipping the Maine workers with new job skills. Black said he is a strong supporter of encouraging people to attend vocational and training schools.

However, the candidates differ on the issue of the minimum wage. Iverson supports the ballot referendum that would seek to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. In order to make the transition easier for small businesses, he suggested a subsidy to those businesses with fewer than 25 employees.

Black favors increasing the minimum wage, but not the way it is proposed on the ballot this year, which he said would deter business growth.

“I’m in favor of increasing the minimum wage, but at a different increment that it is being proposed,” Black said.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate


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