Incumbent and former DA vie for District 127 seat
SCARBOROUGH — In the race for Maine House District 127, both candidates are seeking a course in the middle of the road.
Incumbent Republican Amy Volk is seeking her second two-year term representing the district, which extends east from the Eastern Trail through Pine Point and Prout's Neck. In 2010, she defeated incumbent Democrat Sean Flaherty for the seat.
Volk and her husband, Derek, live on Elbridge Oliver Way and have four children.
Opposing Volk is Democrat Paul Aranson, who served as Cumberland County District Attorney from 1982 to 1990. Aranson is making his first run for a legislative seat.
The father of two grown children, Aranson, 62, is a resident of Minuteman Drive. He practices divorce and family law in Sanford.
Volk said her roots in town allow her to stand out in the race.
"I feel like I'm immersed in the community," she said. She has served as board secretary with the Portland-based Root Cellar and is a founding member of Scarborough Young Life Advisory Committee. Volk was also the board secretary for the Children's Theatre of Maine.
Volk said her first term established her willingness to work with all legislators and she became a member of the Moderate caucus.
Aranson believes he stands out because of his differing view of government. A supporter of free markets, he said government should serve as a correcting mechanism.
"Free markets provide the greatest wealth for the greatest number of people," he said. "Given that distortions occur, only government action can counter imbalances that happen in the system."
The candidates are on opposite sides of Question 1, which would allow same-sex marriages. Aranson has been endorsed by Equality Maine, and Volk said she is opposed to the question but not making it a focus of her campaign.
"I am happy to have the decision made by citizen referendum," Volk said. "And I do believe people in committed relationships should have the same rights as married people."
Aranson said he will also work to work to limit government regulation of "medical reproductive choices."
Volk said the state has made progress in improving its business climate in the last two years.
"We have a 'how can I help you attitude,'" she said, that has replaced a more adversarial tone.
Volk praised reforming health insurance and worker's compensation laws, and supports concepts including allowing applicants to file one permit application to be delivered digitally to the proper agencies.
She said continued streamlining is needed, especially in bureaucracy, and noted the LD-1 regulatory reforms passed in 2011 drew significant bipartisan support .
"It is proof our leadership is willing to work with everybody," she said.
In seeing the current economic climate as one of a lack of demand instead of an abundance of debt, Aranson said he would like to increase state bonding to put more money into the economy.
"We are not going to increase our economy without increasing our tax base," he said.
Aranson suggested tax reform could start by eliminating the sales tax because it is regressive and outdated. Revenue could be replaced by increasing lodging or meals taxes, but he is convinced no sales tax means more jobs.
Aranson attributed current cuts in social spending programs to the tax cuts enacted before it was decided how spending should be curbed. He added the state reductions in social spending do not solve problems, especially as the population ages.
"The costs are just shifted to somebody else. You can't take a hatchet to it. My view is they want to dismantle the safety net," he said.
Volk said it is important to remember the federal waivers sought to reduce MaineCare spending mean the state matches, instead of exceeds, federal standards under the Affordable Care Act.
She said time is needed to judge the impact of cuts, but a continued priority is to eliminate waiting lists for people needing group home care and to redirect spending those who need it most.
Volk said government can play a role in developing or expanding sources of energy, but suggested practical spending like helping businesses access more economical natural gas lines in town.
To expand energy sources, she said she supports more natural gas use and a return to hydroelectric power from existing dams that are not generating a full capacity.
"It's much more reliable and easier to access," she said.
Volk emphasized that conservation is a key, and can be done without government subsidies. From using more efficient light bulbs to forming energy-buying pools for businesses, private efforts at conservation can be accomplished without government assistance, she said.
Aranson's preference is to let the market decide how energy sources emerge and develop.
"I'm not a big winner of letting the government pick winners and losers in the business world," he said.
He said he is wary of subsidies, adding current federal tax breaks and benefits have provided "what I consider a marginal return."
The state can lead by retrofitting buildings for better conservation and buying fuel efficient vehicles, Aranson said, but should limit its involvement otherwise.
"I'm an optimist in terms of adaptability, but let the market lead," he said.
Volk and Aranson emphasized they will not be bound by party lines as they consider legislative issues.
"I am not an ideologue," Volk said.
"I view myself as a middle-of-the-road, common-sense Mainer," Aranson said.