DURHAM — A political newcomer is challenging a two-term incumbent for the Maine House District 46 seat.
Voters in the district that covers the rural communities of North Yarmouth, Durham and part of Pownal will have a choice between Rep. Paul Chace, a Republican, and Democrat Braden Sharpe.
Chace said he is seeking re-election because he’d like to “find real solutions and end the gridlock (in Augusta) and stimulate our economy.”
Chace said he’s proud of the work the Legislature has done during his time in office, such as passing a bill allowing pharmacists to prescribe and dispense naloxone to anyone of any age, and would like to continue with that momentum.
In terms of the opioid crisis, Chace said the state needs to focus on long-term treatment, rather than “shifting” those with an addiction from one substance to another, like methadone.
“I am a pro-life Republican and I don’t believe that ends at any point over someone’s life span,” he said.
One of his top priorities, should he be re-elected, would be to “eliminate taxes that are counterproductive to business development (and) reduce taxes that force heirs to sell or diminish inheritance property in order to pay taxes.”
While owning and operating businesses with his wife, Karen, Chace said he learned firsthand how difficult it is to compete and succeed as a business owner in Maine.
“When (Karen) and I moved back to Maine after moving to Pennsylvania for five years for a promotion, our eyes were really opened to all the different ways we tax ourselves,” Chace said.
In order to fix this, Chace said, the state needs to “create sustainable living wage jobs (and) encourage new business models and innovation.”
“Part of our problem is infrastructure,” Chace said, noting a difficulty getting products into the state and poor internet connectivity. “If we don’t have the tools for businesses to expand, we’re going to continue to stay a state park … There’s nothing wrong with that except you’re only going to get revenue during the summer.”
Chace said the state is moving in the right direction, but still has a long way to go.
“What Gov. LePage has done over the last eight years has been very incremental and very positive. Our economy is headed in the right direction,” Chace said.
Chace said he’s not in favor of expanding Medicaid, a bill that was passed by a statewide referendum last fall and ordered by the courts, but stonewalled by LePage.
“We’re spending the money on folks that have the ability and resources to go to work and have a good job,” Chace said. “We’ll never be able to solve our problems with that kind of approach … It’s 18- to 59-year-old able-bodied citizens.”
Chace said he’s also opposed to Question 1 on this year’s statewide ballot, which would establish universal home care for the elderly and disabled by imposing a tax on those making at least $128,400 a year.
“It is an incorrect assumption that people at a certain income threshold have more to give,” he said.
Chace said residents in District 46 already pay more than their fair share in property taxes.
“The (Regional School System) works when there’s parity between the towns, when there’s an equal number of citizens being served from each community,” he said. “We are not in that situation in North Yarmouth, Durham or Pownal.”
Sharpe said he decided to run because he “couldn’t sit back any longer.”
“I’d like to try to make things better after sort of sitting around for the last eight years,” Sharpe said. “I became frustrated with the administration.”
Two of the biggest issues facing District 46, Sharpe said, are funding for education and revenue sharing, which go hand in hand.
“I’d like to see municipalities get more for education and infrastructure,” he said. “We have to increase revenue sharing … I know there are models out there that could work.”
Sharpe said he would like to see Medicaid expansion implemented in the next legislative session.
“It’s a fundamental right for every person to have access to health care,” he said.
Another “hot button issue” facing the district and state, Sharpe said, is how Central Maine Power operates and its recent hikes in electricity rates.
“I don’t think they’re very responsive to the public’s demands,” he said. “… It’s somewhat unfair that they want to charge more for people to use solar and renewable energy … to get back into the grid.”
Like Chace, Sharpe will oppose Question 1, saying he “likes the premise of the idea, but … thinks it should be pursued through the legislature.”
Sharpe said Question 2-5 on the ballot, all borrowing questions, are a “reaction” to LePage “not releasing funds for the things the state needs.”
“We have a huge infrastructure in Maine and if we don’t keep up with those, the cost will be exponentially more in the future than what it is now,” he said. “We have to do it, and not doing it will cost more.”
Sharpe said his experience working for Goodwill for the past 14 would prove to be valuable in the house.
“I think there are a lot of similarities between a nonprofit and the government,” he said. “We have X amount of dollars and we have to try to do the most good with those dollars … Just because we’re all working for one company doesn’t mean we’ll all agree on how to spend it.”
When it comes to addressing the opioid crisis, Sharpe said he’s been extremely disappointed by how L.D. 1430 – which seeks to integrate medication-assisted treatment with counseling, support and general health care services – has been handled.
Sharpe also said he puts some blame for the crisis on pharmaceutical companies and said he’d like to see them help fund legislation to combat the crisis.
“A lot of these people in need and crisis are there because their doctor prescribed them with medication,” he said. “… (The pharmaceutical industry) has done some major damage.”
Sharpe said he’d also like the state to look into how to make college more affordable.
“That comes with a lot of hard work and being able to talk to everybody,” he said.
Residency: Colonial Drive, Durham
Party Affiliation: Republican
Occupation: Licensed pharmacist, self-employed consultant
Education: Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, University of Rhode Island
Political/civic experience: Two-term state representative
Website/social media: http://paulchace.us/
Residency: Harlie Woods Road, Durham
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Family: Married, two children
Occupation: Vice president of loss prevention and safety for the Goodwill of Northern New England for 14 years
Education: College courses at Daemen College Amherst, New York
Political/civic experience: None