October 18, 2012

Incumbent Longstaff faces newcomer Perry in race for House District 77 seat

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE -- An incumbent legislator representing part of Waterville faces opposition from a businessman who is running for public office for the first time.

Rep. Thomas R.W. Longstaff, 77, of Waterville, has served two years representing House District 77; Richard Perry, 49, of Waterville, hopes to unseat Longstaff in November.

Longstaff, a Democrat and retired Colby College professor, said he knows firsthand what people of the state face every day from growing up in central Maine and he wants to continue his work in the Legislature.

"I find that listening to constituents when there are issues of importance to them to be an invaluable resource when I cast my votes in Augusta," he said. "I encourage voters to contact me. I appreciate that very much because it helps me to represent people if they feel free to be in touch with me."

Perry, a Republican and self-employed painting and decorating contractor, says he is running for the seat because he wants to serve his community.

"I believe I bring a fresh, common sense approach to the important issues facing both the people of District 77 and the state of Maine," he said.

Perry said he has spoken with hundreds of people in his district who cite jobs and the economy as the most important issues facing the state. Energy costs also are of concern to them, he said.

"People are hurting, they have seen the costs of essentials -- food, gas, heating oil and electricity -- skyrocket and their incomes have leveled off," he said. "I think they need to see a real trend in the opposite direction to start feeling confident again."

Longstaff said balancing the state budget while preserving essential services, such as education, health care and revenue sharing for municipalities, is one of the most important issues facing the state.

"Achieving this goal will go a long way toward improving the environment for economic recovery and employment," he said.

The state should delay tax reductions while avoiding tax increases, control wasteful spending and seek bipartisan compromises rather than partisan solutions, according to Longstaff.

Longstaff, a supporter of the early childhood education program, Educare Central Maine in Waterville, said that, if re-elected, he would continue supporting education by supporting bonds for education and opposing attempts to balance the state budget by reducing revenue sharing with municipalities.

"Residents of Waterville already face high property taxes and reducing revenue sharing transfers the cost of providing essential public services to the property tax," he said.

Perry said his more than 30 years experience as a small business owner, law enforcement officer and retail sales manager makes him the best candidate for the seat.

He would start his work in the State House by focusing on Gov. Paul LePage's energy initiative, he said.

"Based on the concerns of constituents in my district, he seems to be really on to something," Perry said. "This single initiative could help tackle two major issues facing the people of Maine. It focuses not only on lowering costs on the citizens of this great state, but also on reducing the cost of electricity and energy for Maine's job creators, which could help bring back good paying jobs to our state and local communities."

Amy Calder -- 861-9247



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