BRUNSWICK — Republican Michael Stevens stands in the way of Democratic state Rep. Mathea “Mattie” Daughtry’s chance at a third term representing House District 49.
This is Stevens’ second attempt to unseat Daughtry after losing to her in 2014 in his first bid for elected office.
Stevens, a School Administrative District 75 bus driver, moved to Brunswick in 2011 and is active in the Brunswick Republican Town Committee. He said he is running to get more conservatives into the Democratic-controlled House.
Daughtry has served her hometown of Brunswick since 2012, and, by November, she will have biked it entirely: she is conducting her entire campaign on two wheels. She is also a local photographer.
At 29, she is the youngest woman in the House, and the only woman on the Youth Caucus.
She also serves on the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, and said one of the highlights of serving in the Legislature was co-chairing the Commission on Maine College Affordability and College Completion, which calculated the unmet needs of students across income brackets.
Daughtry voted for a commission to look into impeachment of Gov. Paul LePage after his threatening voicemail for Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, and his racially charged remarks of the last two months; however, no action was taken.
Referring to the voicemail, Daughtry called for a mechanism to ensure accountability. “This is something that would get you fired from any job,” she said, adding when clips of the governor’s comments can’t be played around children, there’s a problem.
Stevens defended LePage’s right to free speech, and argued that the governor “is entitled to say what he wants.”
“People say he’s a racist,” Stevens said. “He has a black adopted son. He’s not a racist.” (Devon Raymond Jr. is a 25-year-old Jamaican who has lived with LePage’s family, but he was never adopted by the governor.)
Daughtry called the opioid epidemic a priority for the entire state.
“The answer is not locking people up,” she said, advocating for greater treatment and prevention programs, including a greater number of private-public partnerships. Off the top of her head, she singled out Scarborough’s Operation HOPE as a good model for amnesty treatment programs.
On combating the crisis, Stevens said, “I don’t have any specifics. I haven’t been following it that closely” – because he works three jobs and is not in the Legislature – “so I don’t have an opinion as to what should and shouldn’t continue at this point.”
Should he be elected, however, Stevens said he would research the issue further. He said “people that want help (are owed) an opportunity to get help,” but there there should also be a kind of “reciprocation” for treatment, either financial payment, or volunteer service for those who cannot afford to pay.
Daughtry said the Legislature needs a better long-term vision of ways to attract people to Maine, which means investing in infrastructure, education, and the economy. She argued that spending cuts made by the LePage administration will have long-term consequences that will undermine that vision.
Daughtry also said partisan divisions are hurting the Legislature. “We need to stop making compromise a dirty word,” she said, citing her experience on the Youth Caucus as a bipartisan experience where she and other legislators worked together.
Stevens, citing his degree in criminal justice, said the Legislature needs to crack down on “sanctuary cities” like Portland that are “harboring illegals.” He accused illegal immigrants of stealing services away from taxpayers, although he said he isn’t sure how large the population is in Maine.
He said he doesn’t think the Legislature should physically remove illegal immigrants, but instead, punish cities for “essentially harboring fugitives” and to “make it harder and less appealing for refugees to come to Maine.”
Stevens said he would also like the Legislature to ensure that voter fraud is eliminated, and that there are greater penalties for animal abusers.
Daughtry said she will vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton for president. “She’s the most qualified person to ever run for president,l” Daughtry said.
Stevens is backing Republican Donald Trump. He accused of Clinton of wanting “to bring in more dependent illegals” who “are trying to dissolve what it used to mean to be American.”
Daughtry said she wants to fight for issues under the “education umbrella” and ways to get people the job training needed for highly skilled jobs. She cited Brunswick Landing as a place that is generating high-paying, high-skill jobs, and said Maine needs to create qualified workers to fill them.
Stevens said he is “sick of hearing about people stealing, defacing and trashing other candidates campaign signs,” which he said is a violation of the First Amendment.
He would like to raise awareness around the issue in Augusta, and “to make that as serious a crime as possible. I want examples made of these people.”
Daughtry prefaced her position on the fall referendum questions by saying,”As a politician, I don’t have a stance” because referendums are intended to be decided by the people.
That said, she is in favor of Question 2, which would establish a 3 percent tax on household income over $200,000 to aid education; Question 3, would require specific background checks for gun sales and transfers; Question 4, which would increase the $7.50-per-hour minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020, and Question 6, which asks voters to borrow $100 million for transportation projects.
Daughtry said she is still deciding how to vote on Question 1, which would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana as an agricultural product, and Question 5, the measure that would institute statewide ranked-choice voting.
Stevens said he opposes all the measures except Question 6, which he said the state “might as well do now” while bond rates are low.