SCARBOROUGH — A tea party organizer is challenging the Senate majority leader in state Senate District 6, which includes Gorham, part of Westbrook and the portion of Scarborough west of Route 1 and the Scarborough Marsh.
Republican Matt Mattingly, a Gorham town councilor and founder of the District 6 Tea Party, brings an economic focus to the race, while incumbent Sen. Philip Bartlett, also of Gorham, emphasizes his experience as a three-term senator.
Bartlett, 34, was first elected to the Senate in 2004. He grew up in Gorham and attended Tufts University and Harvard Law School. He is an attorney with Scaccia, Lenkowski, Aranson & Bartlett.
Bartlett said that in his six years in the Legislature, the state has continually grappled with a difficult fiscal environment, but has managed to shrink the size of the state budget to the smallest since 1999, adjusted for inflation.
“We have successfully reduced the size of Maine’s budget while protecting core services that the Maine people rely on,” he said.
Bartlett said he takes the constitutional mandate to meet the state’s pension obligations seriously and would not seek to amend it. He said bringing together policymakers and stakeholders to forge a workable solution to the pension crisis that recognizes the state’s obligations and the difficult economy is his goal.
Bartlett said he was proud to support legislation to eliminate discrimination in the state’s marriage laws and would continue to support same-sex marriage in the future.
He said he would continue to work on building consensus on a wide range of issues, including investments in Maine’s workforce and development of a state energy policy. Bartlett said he worked to successfully expand the Circuit Breaker program, which provided tax relief to Maine families, and to bring the Pine Tree Zones to southern Maine.
Mattingly, 42, is the owner and managing partner of the PineCrest Inn and 91 South, a food and wine club. Mattingly is married and has two children. He is the chairman of the Gorham Capital Improvements Committee, a member of the Gorham Ordinance Committee, a director of the Maine Innkeepers Association and the founder of the District 6 Tea Party, which is affiliated with the conservative group Tea Party Patriots.
Mattingly cited Gorham’s four-year zero percent tax increase as a model for responsible spending and smart budgeting, something, he said, the state has failed to do. He said the state “must look at a complete structural overhaul in the physical way in which we run government,” adding that government needs to stop thinking it can create jobs.
“Businesses create jobs, government spends money. The two philosophies are not compatible with each other,” he said.
He said he would support continuing consolidation on the administrative side of the school systems, as well as cutting health-care expenses to “put immediate cash back in the pockets of our teachers and reduce the tax burden.” He said in the classroom, we need to reward innovation and success, and remove those whose hearts aren’t in educating students.
Mattingly said the state’s pension crisis began 30 years ago and that the controlling leadership in Augusta is now trying to convince people that those who helped create the crisis can be trusted to solve it. He said looking to early retirement with benefits concessions and edging up the eligibility age over time, as well as enacting the recommendations in the Envision Maine report, are possible solutions.
Mattingly said the debate over gay marriage is confusing because both the state and the churches are using the same language to mean different things. He said the state should deal with the contractual obligations of marriage, while the church deals with spiritual obligations.
“People have the right to take care of each other and if we need to create a unique solution for people to do so, then we should do that,” he said.
Mattingly said, as a business owner, signing paychecks is the single most important thing he does each week, and that Maine needs more people signing paychecks, more people cashing paychecks, and fewer people cashing welfare checks.
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org