May 18, 2010

3 vie for House GOP nomination

Republican voters in House District 45 will choose from a builder, a grocery store manager and a self-described "conservative reformer" in the primary for the seat vacated by term-limited House Majority Leader John Piotti, D-Unity.

Paul Cowing

Date of Birth: November 14, 1953

Occupation: Residential Builder. Self-employed for over 25 years. Owner of Paul A. Cowing and Sons Builders

Education: Erskine Academy '72

Public Office: Palermo Selectman, Board of Assessors, Road Advisories Committee, and Tri-County Solid Waste Management Board.

Ryan Harmon

Date of Birth: May 9, 1974

Education: Bonny Eagle HS '93

Bachelor of Arts, history and political science -- Revere College, Nashua, N.H. '97

Master in Business Administration -- Revere College, Nashua, N.H. '00

Public Office: Palermo Budget Committee (former), President of Palermo Youth Association

Peter Sheff

Date of Birth: September 16, 1947

Occupation: Bank of America Customer Advocate and Pastor of Abundant Grace (Non-Denominational) Church in Searsmont

Education: Manatee High School, Bradenton, FL '65

Public Office: None

The district includes Palermo, Burnham, Troy, Unity, Thorndike, Freedom, Knox, and Montville.

Paul Cowing

The builder, Paul Cowing of Palermo, said lawmakers in Augusta are uncooperative with small business owners in the state.

"Everything you want to do is a 'can't do,'" he said. "A little bit of can-do attitude out there and some common sense I think would go a long long ways."

Cowing said there is often an unrealistic emphasis on promising to cut taxes.

"Taxes are an unfortunate part of the way things are," he said. "I think if we were smarter about how we spend the taxes we have than we wouldn't be in this mess."

He criticized inefficiencies of state government, saying that any businessowner who ran a company the way the state is run would go bankrupt.

He says that a 2-cents-a-gallon gas tax would fix all the roads in the state if the money went directly to the highway fund. He said he was aware this was an unpopular political position, but that he supported it because it made sense.

"I probably will be politically incorrect the moment I get into there," he said. "They'll say 'Ah, that's a redneck talking there.'"

He said school consolidation, sold as a way to reduce administration and bring more money to classrooms, sounded great but was poorly implemented.

"It frustrates me," he said. "I'm so sick of going down to the store and hearing everybody complain."

Cowing also said welfare should be reformed.

"I believe in helping people, but I believe in helping people get on their feet, not stay down," he said. He described how he's met people who told him that if they got a job they would lose all their benefits. He would rather see an incremental benefits system, he said, where people would not be in an all-or-nothing situation that he says leads to a lifestyle of dependence.

"Everybody says there's no jobs," Cowing said. "Well, I've gotten up every day for 40 years and always had something to do."

Ryan Harmon

Ryan Harmon, a department manager at Hannaford Bros. who moonlights as an entrepreneur, would like to see across-the-board cuts to all departments.

Although he said the Department of Health and Human Services is overextended, he thinks all state government could find efficiencies.

"I think all departments need to cut, not just DHHS," Harmon said. "I would take 4 percent from everybody each year over the next five years."

Harmon outlined a vision of a state government that was much smaller, as well as more tightly financed.

"The role of state government, in my mind, is to protect people's private property and to ensure that private small business exists and to ensure that we have good-quality roads to enable our businesses and farms to succeed," he said.

Education costs could be cut substantially with school choice and promotion of charter and private schools, he says. He also would like the state to look into creating a system in which companies could sponsor schools to cut costs, he said.

He thinks farming could be a good future for the state, particularly in organics. After the Legislature cuts wasteful spending, Harmon said, he would like it to spend more money promoting organic products produced in the state.

In the meantime, the state can be more active in controlling costs of dairy products, he said, and support farmers by easing the regulations on transportation and working to lower farming costs such as equipment.

(Continued on page 2)

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