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Subtle differences between Maine Senate District 19 candidates

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Subtle differences between Maine Senate District 19 candidates

BATH — A political newcomer is challenging on a one-term incumbent in the race for the District 19 state Senate seat.

District 19 includes Bath, Topsham, West Bath, Arrowsic, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Dresden, Georgetown, Perkins Township, Phippsburg, Richmond and Woolwich.

Both Jeff Pierce, R-Dresden, and Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, said they are focused on bringing good-paying, high-quality jobs to the state.

Pierce, 50, was born and raised in Augusta and works as a residential home builder specializing in historic homes. He and his wife Ann have two sons and live and work in Dresden.

He said that while he is a Republican, what really sets him apart from Goodall is that he lives and works in his community and will put the needs of the state and community before party affiliations.

“I'm a Mainer first and (for me) it's really about what's going to get Mainers working,” he said. “Unless you work in the community you live in, how do you know what your community needs?”

Goodall, 34, was elected to his first term in the Senate in 2008 and works as an attorney for Augusta-based Dyer Goodall & Denison. He and his wife, LeAnn, live in Richmond with their 15-month-old daughter.

He said he hopes that his history of working across the aisle and his experience on the Richmond Board of Selectmen will help him win votes in November.

“I believe that my experience of working ... for common-sense solutions, practical solutions to move Maine forward, is something that is very valuable,” he said.

The candidates' views on the major issues do not widely vary.

Business development

Both candidates said a strong education system is what is needed to bring good jobs to Maine.

“(We need) a top-notch education system that gives opportunity to every child and every person seeking to retrain themselves for the economy of today and the jobs of tomorrow,” Goodall said.

Pierce said schools need to train students for hands-on jobs and schools should not be turning their backs on industrial technologies, because that's where the jobs are in Maine.

“When I was a kid, and I know it was a long time ago, we had shop class in seventh and eighth grade, we had home economics; these are hands-on skills you'd learn whether you were going to be working the field or you were going to college,” he said. “Not everyone goes to college, but we have businesses screaming up here for people who have machinist skills, who have welding skills, who have hands on skills and we don't produce them coming out of high school any more.”

Social welfare

Neither candidate would say whether the state spends too much money on its social welfare programs. But both said reform is needed to improve the system and that reform starts with continuing education.

“We need to make sure that we are training people, retraining people who have lost their jobs, that have been unable to find a job,” Goodall said. “We need to make sure that they have the opportunity to succeed.”

Pierce agreed, saying that it all comes back to people having the skills to be able to go out and find a job.

But they differ on how abuses of the system can be handled.

Goodall said the state needs to strive to create more economic opportunity for those currently taking advantage of welfare services, so that they do not become dependent on them to survive. He also said the state needs to make sure that the services remain available to those who truly need them most.

Pierce said that welfare fraud should be managed by requiring proof of residency, a factor that he feels is currently severely lacking. He said that while he believes that if someone needs a hand up, they should get it, but people should not be able to come from out of state and take advantage of the Maine system.

Alternative energy

Both candidates said they have the best interest of the taxpayers in mind when it comes to their support of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, hydro and tidal.

“I believe the state and federal government has a role to play in incentivizing renewable energy power through tax incentives and other dollars, but it has to be in the best interest of the taxpayer,” Goodall said.

He said that in order to receive state or federal subsidies, companies providing the power should have to show a track record of keeping consumer costs low.

Pierce said he supports all forms of alternative energy, but would lean toward hydro power or tidal before wind and solar because of its cost. He also said that while he supports clean energy coming to Maine, he thinks that the technology should be built here before it is funded by state subsidies.

“There's a lot of companies that take our research and development and figure out (the technology) and take it over and produce it in China and ship it back to us,” he said. “If they want taxpayer subsidies to build wind power in Maine, we have a great workforce here, the turbines should be built in Maine.”

Same-sex marriage

Goodall said he fully supports Question 1, the statewide referendum to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I believe that everyone has the right to marry those they love and receive equal protection under the law,” he said.

Pierce said he supports everyone having the same rights, but he won't make up mind on Question 1 until he's in the voting booth on Nov. 6.

He said the government shouldn't have its hands in this issue and that this conversation is all a result of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act passed in 1996, which limits who can and cannot have access to health-care information.

“Why don't we repeal the crappy law and then everybody can have these rights and benefits?” Pierce said. “How does the government get off telling us what we can do and whether we can get married or not or whether we can leave property or not or whether we can go to the hospital or not?

"I don't have a dog in the fight. I think people should be able to leave property to whoever they want and I don't care if they are a same-sex couple or if they are a long-time committed couple that chose not to get married. I think it's a no-brainer. Why do we need a law?”

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.