FREEPORT — Incumbent Democratic Rep. David C. Webster is challenged by Republican newcomer William Greene in the election to represent Freeport and a portion of Pownal in House District 106.
Both Greene and Webster agree the budget deficit needs to be addressed in the coming years, but Greene wants to make responsible cuts, while Webster is a proponent of expanding job opportunities.
William B. Greene
Greene, 58, of Pine Street, is married and has three children. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maine and now sells radio advertising at Atlantic Coast Radio.
He has 10 years of retail experience working at Jordan Marsh and Rite Aid, five years of financial experience at MBNA America, and was in the U.S. Navy for 11 years. He has served as the chairman of the Freeport Republican committee since 2008.
Greene has worked on budgets in government and private industry, and said cuts have to be made from an intelligent and dispassionate perspective in order to balance the state budget. He said the Department of Health and Human Services and schools have the largest budgets, and the majority of cuts must come from these areas.
“Our government is on an unsustainable trajectory, and we must direct the government to a sustainable budget in an environment of reduced revenues,” he said.
He said the state is heading in the wrong direction, and needs to be more business friendly, fiscally responsible and willing to make cuts.
He said the state cannot afford a university system with seven campuses. He suggested transforming the more remote campuses – Fort Kent and Machias – into business campuses.
Greene suggests paying toward the state pension now in order to avoid the projected crisis. He said if the state can attract more businesses, more jobs will be created and the tax base will increase. He said by reducing the size and scope of government, the crisis could further be contained.
Greene said government should not “be in the marriage business and certainly should not be telling religious organizations who they must marry.” He said if the same-sex marriage bill resurfaces, he would support legislation that would allow civil unions for either same or opposite sex.
He said the consolidation of emergency medical dispatch services with Brunswick is “strictly a fiscal issue.”
“If retaining the dispatch services in Freeport is more cost effective and, more importantly, more effective in getting services to those who need them the quickest, then keep it in Brunswick,” he said. “If Brunswick can do the same for less, then dispatch should be in Brunswick.”
He said he was not in favor of legislating jobs into the Town Charter by retaining the service in Freeport.
Greene said school consolidation is a good idea that was implemented poorly. Since the consolidation law has been enacted, he said the RSU 5 Board of Directors has reduced annual increases to the school budget, but needs to create a sustainable budget by making cuts year after year. There should be no reliance on stimulus money from federal sources, he said.
In addition, he said the voters in the 2008 December election were fatigued by the political process and as a result, were not as informed and interested in the RSU 5 election, as shown by the low voter turnout.
“I consider the (RSU 5) members as being unrepresentative of the town at large with responsibility of over 60 percent of the town budget,” he said. “As a start, the next election of RSU members should be done in a general election cycle in November,” he said.
Greene said he would like to be a part of state government that promotes private industry and fiscal responsibility.
“I’m not running to be popular, but if I am elected, I will try to make cuts and campaign for responsibility,” he said. “I’m a fiscal realist. I’d like to get back to the flinty, personally responsible people we used to be in Maine.”
David C. Webster
Webster, 62, is married and lives on Lavers Pond Road. He received his master’s degree in education organization and management from Antioch University, and is a graduate of the Lambda Class of Maine Institute for Civic Leadership.
He was the owner of a tourism consulting business called Webster Services and spent 20 years as the executive director of VSA Arts of Maine, a statewide, nonprofit corporation supporting the arts, educational and cultural opportunities for children and adults with disabilities in Maine.
He has represented the district for the past six years, and has served on the Health and Human Resources Committee and the Appropriation and Financial Affairs Committee.
Webster said working in a bipartisan manner to assure good, ethical solutions is his priority, even if it requires disagreements. His said his experience balancing the growth and contraction of business plans, employees and budgets in a small business as well as on the Appropriations Committee has enabled him to understand and work with the state budget.
He said with declining student numbers and reduced school funding, the Legislature needs to make long-term decisions in order to continue proper funding for the education of Maine children.
“While many are proud of of the equality of education in RSU 5 and want us to expand programming for more excellence, a number of constituents have shared their concerns about how many of their tax dollars are spent on education,” he said. “It is essential to do what we can to continue supporting 21st century job, education and quality of life goals.”
Webster said as a member of the Appropriations Committee, he is responsible to work with the state employees retirement system to address the pension shortfall and develop a plan to propose to the full Legislature and residents of Maine in January. He said they will review all proposals to find the best possible solution.
“I believe we should present a proposal which will maintain a constitutional mandate to assure for a stable retirement system,” he said. “There are several factors including the number of retirees and cost of living adjustments that create the projected liability.”
He said he will support another bill legalizing same-sex marriage if one surfaces. He said any proposed legislation should allow equal rights without taking away from any person’s right to celebrate and honor traditional marriages.
“The Maine Constitution says that all people are born free, independent, with rights to pursue and obtain safety and happiness,” he said. “I believe that marriage equality legislation will add to Maine people and society’s safety and happiness.”
He said as a representative for the past six years, he has advocated for the residents of his district by continuing to address job growth, clean water, improving transportation and heating fuel assistance. He said ensuring job growth and educational opportunities are his priorities, and he wil focus on Freeport’s economic development and the success of Brunswick Landing, which is attracting businesses and creating jobs for residents.
Webster said while he wishes emergency medical dispatch services could remain in Freeport, he said the Town Council made the best decision it could, and he will not second guess that decision.
Webster said since its implementation, RSU 5 has settled into an effective organization. He said many parents are pleased with the quality of education and opportunities for their children due to reorganization, but he continues to take concerns to the Legislative Education Committee for further improvements.
Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org