YARMOUTH — Incumbent Democratic Rep. Melissa Walsh Innes is challenged by Republican newcomer Jeffrey Weinstein in state House District 107.
Innes is seeking her second term in the Legislature.
Melissa Walsh Innes
Innes, 39, of East Elm Street, is married and has three children. She grew up in Pownal, and attended Greely High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Southern Maine.
She is a special education technician at Harrison Middle School and was the past chairwoman of the Yarmouth Energy Savers Committee and the First Universalist Faith in Action Committee.
She serves on the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources.
Innes said over the past two years she has worked with her legislative colleagues to cut more than $800 million in spending to help balance the state budget, but there is still a lot of work to be done. She said she will continue to work to ensure the state does not spend more than it takes in.
Innes said she would like to “make our government leaner,” while protecting quality education, economic development and health care.
“School funding is constantly discussed in Augusta, and the goal of 55 percent funding is always the focus,” she said. “I continue to check in with Yarmouth’s superintendent and School Committee, as well as the Joint Standing Committee on Education, as guides in education decisions.”
Innes said she is concerned about the pending state pension shortfall, and is researching the topic in order to make more informed decisions in the future. The issue is currently before the Labor Committee, she said, and will be discussed by the next Legislature.
Innes said she received more than 700 correspondences from constituents urging her to vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in Maine. She said if the issue comes back to the Legislature, she will continue to support the rights of Maine men and women to marry same-sex partners.
“I was proud to cast my vote for same-sex marriage in the House, and was also happy to see that when the issue came to the polls, Yarmouth also voted overwhelmingly to support same-sex marriage,” Innes said, although it was defeated statewide by 30,000 votes.
She said she feels strongly that citizen’s rights be represented, and encourages residents to join her in Augusta to speak to other legislators and testify in public hearings to fight for what they believe in.
“This is what is needed in Augusta, empowered citizens who believe and know that this is their state and government, and their influence in governmental proceedings is crucial in making good policy,” Innes said.
She also said she is proud of her work with the Maine State Chamber of Commerce in shaping an environmental bill that will provide business input into the process.
“I worked hard over the last two years to build working relationships with legislators in both parties, and was thrilled to pass a first-in-the-nation recycling and future economic development law that received the votes of every legislator in Augusta,” Innes said. “Continuing to work with Republicans and Democrats on vital issues for our state – jobs, health care, and protecting our natural resources – is my goal in seeking re-election.”
Weinstein, 67, of Evergreen Drive, was born in Portland and attended Deering High School. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine with a major in economics. He is married and has a son.
He is a former U.S. Air Force officer who also worked for Raytheon Corp. From 1980 to 1997 he was the president and chief executive officer of Portland Marine Operator, a ship-to-shore telephone company.
In retirement, he has been a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary-Civil Air Patrol. He also operated a streaming Internet-based program and podcast called “Good Morning Maine” that is no longer active.
Weinstein served on the School Committee in 1993, and said he worked to create an efficient and fiscally responsible school budget.
He wants to do the same at the state level, he said.
“As a state representative, I hope to bring those same attributes to the Legislature, with an emphasis on putting the lid on any tax increases and rolling back the budget to one that matches the state’s realistic ability to pay,” he said.
He said helping to fix the state’s financial crises is his primary goal for running for this position.
“This is an enormous problem. It is like starting all over,” he said. “Maine needs to find good, determined, disciplined people who understand the problem and are able to fix it.”
Weinstein said his experience managing budgets in the military and his life experiences will prove beneficial in Augusta. He said a “tough-love” approach to the state budget will be essential to focus on the lax tax and spend culture prevailing over the last 30 years.
According to Weinstein, the projected state pension crises is unfortunate, and all the parties involved will have to negotiate “pragmatic and realistic changes to the existing pension plans.” He said it is an issue that cannot be ignored any longer, and the Legislature must do whatever it takes to restore fiscal sanity to the state pension crises.
He said if the same-sex marriage issue resurfaces, and if a substantial cross-section of individual constituents are interested in voting in another referendum, Weinstein would support another referendum bill.
He said in addition to limiting tax increases and minimizing the budget, another element essential to streamlining government and improving the economy would be to reduce and or eliminate paperwork and programs that do not benefit the economy or governmental operations.
“I am retired, I have no vested interests, and I have nothing to gain financially by running to be a state representative,” he said. “I want what is good for the state of Maine, and I want it to be the state it can be.”
His website is Jeff2010.org.
Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org