Editorial: Maine needs a statesman, not an antagonist

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Reform Maine’s health-care system.

Trim the size and scope of government.

Stop shifting state costs to municipalities.

Reduce welfare spending and require welfare recipients to work for their checks.

Improve schools and student achievement.

Stop taxing Mainers to death.

These are all items on gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage’s to-do list. They are also all on candidate Eliot Cutler’s must-do list.

These two candidates are remarkably similar in their clarity of purpose to curtail spending and improve Maine’s business climate.

The difference between the men, though, is profound.

LePage is correct on the issues, but his bare-knuckle style and bully tactics will not produce the change Mainers so desperately need. In fact, his combative stance will further entrench Maine’s woes.

We need a practiced executive in the Blaine House, a person who has the skills and experience to be an administrator of progress. A person determined to improve our schools, reduce our taxes, fix our roads and vastly shrink government spending.

Cutler is that person.

A Harvard grad, Cutler worked for Sen. Edmund Muskie before shifting to the world of business. His public service provides a strong background on environmental and energy issues, and his business background is distinguished in its geographic reach and diversity of development. He has established multiple successful businesses, and advised other entrepreneurs to thrive.

His career, like many highly successful careers, is not without controversy, but Cutler has been overwhelmingly successful in his public and private enterprises.

Isn’t that what Maine needs? Someone who has a world view of what is needed to drive us toward prosperity?

LePage’s message of radical systemic changes is solid, but his threat to reject any help from the federal government is unnerving. If Maine were really to reject federal funds, how would we pave our highways, fund our schools, purchase emergency equipment for our fire departments and fund police resource officers without raising taxes?

It just couldn’t be done.

LePage’s message is welcome, but his strategy is greatly flawed.

Cutler not only has a solid message, he’s got a strategic plan for Maine that makes sense.

His strategy, he says, is built on candor and confidence. It focuses on creating jobs and lowering the cost of living and the cost of doing business here, and he’s the only candidate who seems to recognize these problems are especially difficult with our aging population.

Cutler has a plan to lower the cost of electricity, reduce health-care costs, lower the cost of government, and rebuild Maine’s educational system to produce students who will be able to compete in a global economy.

Cutler’s strategy isn’t sugar-coated and it’s not going to be easy to implement, and we need his statesmanship to negotiate the pitfalls that have so plagued Maine government in recent years.

He’s the only leading candidate qualified to navigate Maine through this process.

LePage is too confrontational.

Libby Mitchell is too status quo.

According to Mitchell, Maine needs change, especially in improving what she calls the state’s “pathetic business climate.” But, she says, “change takes time.”

Mitchell has been in the Legislature for 30 years, much of that time in leadership positions. How much more time could she possibly need?

We’re out of time and we need a crisis manager to pull us through the next four years – no more excuses.

Cutler can do that with precision, authority and poise.

His life experiences are dynamic, ranging and intellectual, and his view of Maine is thoughtful and sincere, formed from being on the inside looking out and on the outside looking in. He’s the right choice for Maine.

This editorial is written on behalf of the editorial board of the Sun Journal in Lewiston and represents the opinion of Sun Media Group, parent company of The Forecaster.