BRUNSWICK — Incumbent Democratic Rep. Ralph Tucker will be seeking a third term in House District 50 this November and is being challenged by Republican Michael Lawler of Brunswick.
The district covers most of East Brunswick, including Cook’s Corner and Brunswick Landing.
Several attempts by phone and email to reach Lawler were unsuccessful.
A former town councilor, chairman of the Brunswick School Board and district court judge, Tucker was elected to the Legislature in 2014.
His reason for running again, he said, is two-fold: his concern about the “growing gap” between who he called “ordinary people” and the very wealthy, and the fate of the environment.
Tucker serves as House chairman of the Joint Committee on Environmental and Natural Resources.
“I think that we’re fouling our nest and have to do something to stop air pollution, to stop polluting our waters, and to do something about the massive amounts of garbage that we’re just throwing away,” he said.
Tucker also thinks the national government is “going backwards” on the two major issues he cares about, partially by “accelerating the shift of resources from ordinary people to the top.”
He thinks education is a key way to fight back. For instance, Tucker said elementary school teachers should be teaching about ecology and the environment, and environmental protections should be increased.
His other education-related goals include continuing to advocate for the state to fund 55 percent or more of the cost to run public schools, and expanding vocational education.
Tucker also believes implementing universal health care will make people “healthier, stronger (and) more creative,” and will free up the money being spent on insurance premiums that are “going through the roof.”
“If we have a single payer or universal health care system, people talk about the tremendous cost of that,” Tucker said. “But if it is the only way we can reduce the increased cost of health care, then in the end it’s gonna save money in the long term.”
In the same vein, he thinks it’s important to hold big drug companies accountable if they have promoted the overuse of opiates “out of pure greed.”
“Looking toward the future, we have to have the expansion of Medicaid to take care of that young group that needs help in their treatment,” he said. “We can’t think of everybody who gets addicted as a criminal – this crisis can be addressed but it requires resources.”
In addition to voting for Medicaid expansion during his earlier terms, Tucker has also voted for initiatives to implement a minimum wage and the 3 percent education surtax.
Another way to move towards his goals for Maine, he said, is a fairer taxation system, which could be accomplished by adjusting the tax rate so more affluent Mainers pay a higher rate.
“The current state administration has slashed taxes dramatically and then claims that we don’t have enough money to do things for the opiate crisis, for education, for health care, for the environment,” Tucker said.
Above all, he said there is a need for civility that runs through all issues. Working toward civility in public discussion and debate is another one of his goals.
“You can feel passionate about something, but you have to communicate in a tolerant, honest and open and in good faith way,” Tucker said. “You can’t just lead with your emotions and generalities, you have to focus.”
Party affiliation: Democrat
Family: Married, three grown children
Occupation: Retired Maine District Court Judge
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science, Hobart College; juris doctorate, University of Maine School of Law
Political/civic experience: Member of 127th and 128th Legislatures and current House chairman of Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources; former chairman of the Brunswick School Board; former Brunswick Town Councilor; former chairman of the Maine Worker’s Compensation Commission.
Website/social media: none