Sunday, March 9, 2014
A counselor with a philosophical approach to politics is challenging the incumbent speaker of the House in a contest to represent District 78, which encompasses Sidney and part of Oakland.
Robert Nutting, House District 78 candidate
Harry Hayes, House District 78 candidate
House District 78
Part of Oakland and Sidney
Political party: Democrat
Employment: Direct Care Counselor at group home in Sidney. Has worked with the U.S. Census; as a rafting guide; and in a Lewiston factory.
Education: Graduated Buckfield Jr. Sr. High School. Holds a bachelor’s from University of Maine in political science.
Political experience: None
Publicly financed candidate: Yes
Family: Married for 44 years, with three grown children and five grandchildren
Political party: Republican
Employment: Pharmacist at Walmart. He owned and operated True’s Pharmacy in Oakland for 30 years.
Education: Graduate of Skowhegan High School. Bachelor of Science in pharmacy from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in Boston.
Political experience: Current Maine speaker of the House and serving his sixth term in the State House. Oakland town councilor 1977-1988. Legislative committee membership includes Appropriations; Banking and Insurance; Health and Human Services; and Labor.
Publicly financed candidate: No
Website: nuttingforhouse.com, www.mainespeaker.org
Democratic challenger Harry Hayes, 26, and incumbent Republican Robert Nutting, 65, bring different approaches to solving the state's problems. Nutting, like nearly every other candidate running for office in Maine, identified the economy as the biggest issue in the state, while Hayes had a different answer.
Hayes said the state's biggest problem isn't the economy. It's a culture that prevents people from working together to solve issues, jobs included.
"In Maine, we care about each other. We help take care of each other, more so than other states. I think losing that is bigger than just about anything else. I think we're starting to slip in that area," he said. "What would it look like to really love your neighbor in leadership in the state of Maine? It's really hearing out the other side even when you know you disagree and trying to find ways to collaborate instead of just shutting the door just because you can and you have the power to."
Hayes said that improving working relations between legislators is key to solving the state's other problems.
"It's taking away, I think, from our entire state," he said. "When your leadership leads in the wrong direction as far as the little things go, it makes it so we can't work together on the big things."
Nutting had a more typical view of the biggest problem in the state.
"The overriding concern of everyone is the economy and jobs," Nutting, who also works as a pharmacist, said. "The success and failure of people's lives is dictated largely by whether they can get a good job."
Nutting said the future of the state hinges on that single idea -- whether a person can find a job.
"It's a death spiral for young people to get educated in Maine and then move to Massachusetts or Texas to work. We want them here," he said. "It all centers around a job. That job makes state government work, makes everything else work. That's the key."
Nutting said the state has made progress during his term on the cost of energy, the tax burden and a lack of a skilled workforce, all of which he said are contributing factors to the stalled economy.
"I think those are all important," he said. "It's a mix."
Nutting said the state is moving in the right direction toward a business-friendly climate.
"One of the things I've promoted as speaker in the last two years is making Maine an easier place to do business," he said.
Nutting also said the state's economy will be improved when tax dollars are spent more wisely. He pointed to recent overhauls of Maine State Housing and the Maine Turnpike Authority as places where money is being saved.
"I think we can find more examples," he said.
Nutting also said that Gov. Paul LePage will identify other expenses that are no longer needed using zero-based budgeting, which reassesses each budget item based on the need for the expenditure, rather than assuming that the budgeted amount from the previous year is merited.
Hayes acknowledged that bringing jobs to Maine is the most important issue for the voters in the district.
He said he would advocate for a plan with short- and long-term goals.
"If we started making it a priority to train people in the IT and computer fields and talk to some companies, I think they would be more than willing to move to Maine or to expand here," he said. "That's a field that's not going anywhere. These are good-paying jobs."
(Continued on page 2)