HARPSWELL — Two candidates are vying for the House District 64 seat being vacated by Rep. Leila Percy, D-Phippsburg. Percy is prohibited from seeking re-election due to Legislative term limits.
The candidates running to replace her are Democrat David I. Chipman of Basin Cove Road, and Kimberly N. Olsen of 1200 Main Road, Phippsburg, a Republican.
District 64 includes Phippsburg, Harpswell and the southern half of West Bath.
David I. Chipman
Chipman, 60, is a retired telephone installation and repair technician with New England Telephone and Verizon. He and his wife Donna Frisoli have three grown children. Chipman previously served five years on the School Administrative District 75 Board of Directors and three years on the Board of Selectmen.
Chipman is also a board member of the Community Television Association of Maine, a founder and vice president of the Harpswell Community Broadcasting Corp., a founder and board member of the Harpswell Community Housing Trust and a longtime member of Harpswell Neck Fire & Rescue.
“Since I retired in 1994, I’ve set my sights on doing public service full time,” he said.
Chipman said Augusta lawmakers will face some tough choices in the next session particularly now that the stimulus monies have “dried up.” He said the state’s fiscal problems will be difficult, but not impossible to solve.
One problem he said is that Maine has one of the most narrow tax bases in the nation, based on motor vehicle and construction sales, as well as a high income tax. He feels the Legislature has to rethink its taxing options. Although he doesn’t like the idea of added new taxes, one idea he does think worth exploring is increasing the sales tax on lodging.
“Going from the present 7 percent to 8.5 percent would generate more revenues by tapping into the tourist trade,” he said. “Vermont and New Hampshire’s lodging tax is at 9 percent.
“Raising taxes is not on my agenda, but our tourist trade should pay a higher portion.”
Chipman said the Legislature shouldn’t let a people’s veto deter another attempt at tax reform, which was approved by the 124th Legislature but later rejected by referendum. He said the previous attempt would have reduced the income tax by 2 percent.
“It was the first attempt at tax reform in 40 years. And, I think we need to go back and try again,” he said. State government can’t continue running on “confusion and anger,” he added.
Another fix he says is needed is making the state more business friendly.
“People have told me they think there are too many regulations, environmental and consumer protection-related, which deter business growth and investment,” Chipman said. “We need to somehow make it easier, particularly for small businesses, which are our biggest employers.”
Olsen is a working mom making her first bid at elected office. Olsen, 39, and her husband Scott own and operate a residential building and carpentry company. The Olsens have two children who attend Phippsburg Elementary School, where Kim previously worked as an education technician. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maine.
Olsen is a replacement candidate for David Moser, who withdrew after the primary election.
Education funding should be among the top priorities of the next Legislature, she said. Lawmakers will need to replace lost stimulus funds and not just pass the cost of mandated education programs off to local governments. Olsen said the state funding formula creates an “enormous hardship” for Phippsburg, Harpswell, West Bath and other communities with large amounts of waterfront property.
“Because its based on property valuations, not income, it really hurts,” she said adding, everyone in Augusta agrees it needs to be changed, but nothing happens.
“Voters tell me they’re worried. They’re worried about losing their jobs, making their mortgage payments. The fact is, after the bills are paid there’s simply not a lot of extra money left for a working family like mine,” Olsen said.
As a means of saving money, Olsen said she believes the Legislature needs to look at the efficiency of its agencies and also consider limiting the size of government. “Working people are tightening their budgets and it’s time for Augusta lawmakers to do the same,” she said.
Olsen said state lawmakers also need to rectify some of their past mistakes to encourage more business investment in Maine.
“Most of the lobsters we harvest here are sent to Canada for processing and even through the lobsters come from Maine the label says, ‘Made in Canada,’ she said. “There’s reasons why our lobsters are being processed there and not here. It’s cheaper to do so because their seafood industry is subsidized and they don’t pay worker’s compensation. It’s the same reason why other businesses are leaving Maine, or outsourcing.”
Olsen said she believes lawmakers needs to look at ways to reduce energy costs. Offering tax incentives to make homes more energy efficent is a step in the right direction, but why not offer tax incentives for investing in alternative energies as well, she said.
“I don’t believe there is a single homeowner in Maine that wouldn’t put up solar panels or a wind mill if they could afford to do so,” Olsen said. “They can’t because they’re too expensive, so they stick with the traditional options for heating their homes like oil, electricity or natural gas.”
BRUNSWICK — State Rep. Charles Priest, D-Brunswick, is unchallenged in his bid for re-election in House District 63.
Priest is seeking his third consecutive term in the House after a 16-year hiatus. He previously served as a member of the House from 1984 to 1990.
In the 124th Legislature he was House chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary and a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Services.
He graduated from Dartmouth College, served in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1971 and earned a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.
Priest, an attorney, graduated from the University of Maine School of Law. In addition to his legislative service, he has served as Town Council chairman, chairman of the Brunswick Cable TV Committee, chairman of the Augusta Conservation Commission and chairman of the Brunswick Sewer District. He has been a member of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and served on the nominating committee for Brunswick’s Habitat for Humanity.
Priest and his wife Patricia Ryan live on Bowker Street. They have two daughters.