October 15, 2012

House race: Schools, energy top District 88 concerns

By Rachel Ohm rohm@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

An incumbent who spent more than 30 years in the paper industry and the former owner of a used book store in Madison are competing for a state Legislature seat to represent parts of northern Somerset County.

House District 88 represents Anson, Bingham, Caratunk, Carrabassett Valley, Embden, Jackman, Moscow and New Portland.

Candidate: Larry Charles Dunphy

Age: 60

Family: Married to Cynthia 39 years. Two sons, a daughter and nine grandchildren

Residence: Embden

Political party: Republican

Employment: Retired recently after more than 33 years at Madison Paper Industries. Also a U.S. Navy veteran.

Education: Pulp and paper certificate, studied at former Kennebec Valley Technical College, and 1971 Carrabec High School graduate.

Political experience: Legislator since 2010

Website: www.facebook.com/larrydunphy

Candidate: Colby James Seams

Age: 68

Family: Married to Karen for 40 years. Three sons.

Residence: Anson

Political party: Democrat

Employment: Former owner of a used book shop in Madison for 30 years, now retired. Also a former teacher, including at Dexter Regional High School. Kennebec Center for Behavioral Health and the National Alliance for Mental Health volunteer.

Education: Bachelor's degree from former Ricker College, associate degree from Thomas College, 1962 Madison Area Memorial High School graduate.

Political experience: Chairman of the Somerset County Democrats since 2010.

Website: none

Republican incumbent Larry Dunphy, 60, of Embden, faces Colby James Seams, 68, of Anson, in the race for House District 88 seat to represent Anson, Bingham, Caratunk, Carrabassett Valley, Embden, Jackman, Moscow, New Portland and 15 other communities.

Dunphy, who worked for Madison Paper Industries, said that education is key to keeping young people in Maine. He said he would like to see more technical programs for students who aren't pursuing four-year degrees after high school.

Seams, who owned Books Bought and Sold, said that education in the district could be improved. He said classrooms could benefit from technology that would support new industries in the area, including filmmaking.

"There is so much emphasis on the four-year degree," Dunphy said. "I think there is a shortage of two-year technical programs and we have done a disservice to nontraditional type students."

Seams said he thinks classrooms need better computer technology. He said he would like to see the film and media industry grow in central Maine and that the technology for it should be used in classrooms.

"There has been a rapid growth of television and media in recent years and many parts of Maine are not taking advantage of computer technology," Seams said. "We seem to be lagging behind. Film and movies are industries that could be promoted in Maine and they are environmentally friendly industries."

Both candidates noted that another issue facing the district is the high cost of energy.

Dunphy said that lowering energy costs in the district would be a top priority if he were elected.

"We need to find a way to shrink renewable energy costs," he said. "When companies look at Maine as a potential place to work we don't want them to see barriers."

Seams said that Anson could capitalize more on the lower energy costs provided by Madison Electric Works, the town department that provides coverage in parts of Anson, Madison, Norridgewock and Starks.

Madison's power company has an average rate of about 12.5 cents a kilowatt-hour, which is lower than the power from Central Maine Power at roughly 14 cents per kwh. Maine's electricity costs are among the highest in the country -- about 24 percent higher than the national average of 9.62 cents per kwh, according to the Governor's Energy Office

"Madison has one of the lowest rates of electrical power nearby," he said. "There are other small industries to which that could be attractive."

Dunphy, who was elected in 2010 and serves on the House Energy Utilities and Technology Committee, emphasized the use of alternative energy sources to lower costs all over the district.

He suggested using hydro power.

"Traditional jobs in Maine such as pulping and paper industries have taken advantage of hydro power," he said. "We have those natural resources."

Both candidates are outdoorsmen who said they became involved with politics because they were concerned about the future of their children and grandchildren.

Dunphy is a former ski coach at Carrabec High School and also enjoys bicycling and flying. He lives in Embden and has been married to his wife, Cynthia, for 39 years. They have three children and nine grandchildren.

Seams, who enjoys fishing and skiing, lives in Anson with his wife, Karen, to whom he has been married for the last 40 years.

He said that another topic that is important to him is development of the northwest corridor of the district. He said that promoting tourism with Canada and improving transportation infrastructure could be good for the district.

"There is a need to develop the northwest corridor along Route 201," he said. "It is important to promote and welcome Canadian tourists down through the corridor from Quebec City to coastal Maine."

Rachel Ohm -- 612-2368

rohm@centralmaine.com

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