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NORTH YARMOUTH — In her third bid to represent Maine House District 109, Democrat Anne Graham is in a contest with fellow North Yarmouth resident Tyler Frank, an independent, and Republican Gary Foster of Gray.
They are vying to replace Rep. Susan Austin, R-Gray, who is barred from seeking re-election due to term limits.
District 109 includes parts of North Yarmouth, Pownal and Gray.
Foster, 53, runs a residential remodeling and repair business and has spent his life in Maine.
“For a number of years I’ve been following what’s been happening in our state,” he said, noting that his increased involvement over the years led to his election to the Gray Town Council. He served from 2004 to 2007, including two years as chairman.
Foster later was on the Gray Planning Board for one year to fill a vacancy, and he also spent time on the town’s Ordinance Review Committee. He is now Gray’s representative to the board of directors of ecomaine.
“We’ve got a lot of problems to fix, and I’m ready to jump into it,” he said, noting that spending and taxes are among issues that concern him.
“In my opinion, our state government is growing faster than our taxpayers’ ability to afford it,” Foster said.
He also favors welfare reform. He said he sees “a tremendous amount of waste and inefficiency” in the welfare system.
“Politicians will say they’re going to create jobs, but the only jobs that government creates are government jobs,” Foster said. “… Unfortunately, those jobs consume wealth; they don’t create wealth for the state. Private job growth, business growth, economic growth … all comes from the private sector.”
He said he has also read and researched both the federal and state constitutions, and has “a very clear understanding of the powers and duties of government, and that in my opinion is a starting point for any elected official.”
Foster added that “if we can constrain government to its proper role, a lot of the problems would just go away. Much of it is operating outside of its legitimate authority.”
Frank, 25, is a lifelong Mainer who owns CinderCreative, a web development company, and is launching MaineList.org, a real estate listing website.
“Maine’s economy is in shambles,” Frank said, adding that “our business climate ranks as the worst in the nation. Our taxes are too high, and our regulations are too strict – it’s no mystery why businesses and jobs tend to leave Maine and not come back. I am not interested in being a politician. Rather, I am running in order to free Mainers and Maine’s economy from the stifling burdens placed on it by unnecessary government intervention.”
Frank said economy and jobs are a key concern, and prosperity will only return when the government steps back and allows natural market readjustments to occur. He said taxes and state spending must both be lowered, and that unnecessary regulations must be eliminated so that jobs and investment can be attracted to Maine.
Frank said he also hopes to encourage free-market energy innovation in the state by lifting “harmful regulatory barriers” that the Maine Department of Energy imposes, in order to allow competition in the electricity market.
He said he also wants to reduce health-care costs in Maine by getting rid of coverage mandates and allowing residents to buy insurance across state lines. He also favors the elimination of DirigoChoice, which he called “a costly and entirely ineffective program currently financed by high taxes on all other insurance plans. “
Frank said his education and experience have given him a “profound understanding” of economics.
“I’m young and energetic, and eager to tackle the big problems that face our state,” he said. “I’m not interested in a career in politics, so I don’t need to focus on getting re-elected. I will vote according to my principles, and support the rights of the people, and never compromise what I know to be right.”
Graham, 51, is a pediatric nurse practitioner who works for Portland’s school-based health clinics. The Maine native is married and has three sons.
She said she is running because “I think it’s important that we have someone who works hard to try to deal with the many problems that we have, like lack of jobs, and a poor economy, and the need to have health care for all.”
Tax relief is another issue, Graham said, noting that while the governor and Legislature often say taxes will not be raised, people in local communities ultimately have to raise their own taxes in order to fund education. She said she hopes to work with the governor so that promises made in Augusta are fulfilled, including funding education at 55 percent.
“My concern is that they shift the tax burden to the local communities, and then we end up having … battles over whether we’re going to educate our children or whether we’re going to be able to afford our property taxes,” she said.
Graham noted that jobs should be grown in fields such as technology and health care. She said Maine should market itself as a beautiful place to live, work and raise families.
Graham, who concluded a three-year term on the North Yarmouth Board of Selectmen this year, also started the North Yarmouth North Yarmouth Economic Development and Sustainability Committee. She represented North Yarmouth on the school consolidation committee and was president of Foundation 51, the educational foundation for Cumberland and North Yarmouth schools.
Graham has also served on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Health Systems Development, which writes the state health plan and looks at insurance payment reform, and the board of directors of the Autism Society of Maine.
Graham lost to Austin by 219 votes in 2006 and 197 votes in 2008.
“I’m somebody who can really get the job done,” she said, also adding that “my goal is to represent all the people of our communities, regardless of what political party they’re in.”
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.