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YARMOUTH — Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Janice Cooper, who is seeking a second term in House District 47, is being challenged by Republican Rick Snow.
Snow has never held elected office, but has been active in Yarmouth and surrounding communities.
Election Day in Nov. 4.
Cooper has lived in Yarmouth 17 years and currently works for Cultural Home Stays, placing foreign exchange students with families in the area. She has served one two-year term in the House.
Cooper was a staffer for former U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine, for nine years. Before that she lived in Washington, D.C., and worked for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee for 10 years as a legislative staffer. She has also worked as an attorney and a journalist.
Cooper also volunteers in Yarmouth with Yarmouth Cares About Neighbors and at Firehouse Arts, a community arts education program.
She said a main issue she is focusing on is trying to expand the Affordable Care Act. She is on the legislative committee in charge of implementing ACA.
“It makes economic sense as well as moral sense,” she said.
Cooper said Maine is doing well with the act, but she wants to see more young people sign up for it.
Cooper said she also has many environmental concerns that she hopes to address. She is on the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee.
She said she wants to work on protecting Maine’s lakes, and proposed legislation that didn’t get through in her first term, but that she will bring back if re-elected.
Cooper said she also wants to pass formaldehyde regulation.
“There’s really no protection against the tens of thousands of chemicals that are put into our products,” she said. “The federal government should take action, but they won’t so it falls to state (government).”
Cooper said she also wants to work on a climate change study.
“We need to take steps not only to reduce it, but also to cope with it,” she said.
Cooper said she also would try to implement a statewide fee on disposable plastic shopping bags.
She also wants to reintroduce a bill for tax relief for victims of disaster. After the June 2013 propane explosion on Gables Drive, residents who lost their homes still had to pay property taxes. Cooper tried to help them, but her bill didn’t pass.
“It strikes me as extremely unfair,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot in my two years and I think I know enough to reintroduce it.”
Cooper said she also wants to see a statutory law to “keep the traditions and livelihood” of islands surrounding Yarmouth as they are.
“I want to see the way of life protected on Long and Chebeague islands,” she said.
Cooper said she always makes sure to hear from and listen to the people she serves.
“One thing I think it very important for legislators is communicating with constituents,” she said.
Snow, who lived in Yarmouth as a child, is the owner of Maine Indoor Karting in Scarborough. He and his wife have three children. After joining the U.S. Navy, he moved away for some time before resettling in Yarmouth in 2000.
Snow is a board member of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Tourism Association, and Maritime Maine (formerly OPSAIL Maine). He is an associate vice preisdent of Morgan Stanley and was formerly the director of the Maine Bureau of Labor Standards.
Snow is currently on several boards and committees: the National Small Business Association board of trustees, president of the Scarborough Community Chamber of Commerce, and a finance committee member at the First Baptist Church of Yarmouth.
“I have a good idea of what the local community needs are,” Snow said.
Snow said one issue he’s very interested in is the economy. He said Maine needs to continue maintaining a strong tourism industry.
“I think it’s very important that people understand we have to protect and grow a viable business community,” he said.
Snow said more can be done to attract people to become permanent residents of Maine.
“It’s a wonderful place and we have to emphasize that,” he said. “The quality of life here is second to none.”
Snow said one way to attract more people is to adjust the taxes. He said the state is “aging significantly” because not enough young people are moving to Maine. He said other people are leaving Maine because of taxes.
“We can adjust that by helping to fix the tax code,” Snow said.
As for increasing minimum wage, Snow said he thinks “the marketplace controls the wages set by the area.”
“Let’s work on bringing higher-paying jobs everywhere so we can work on creating a livable wage,” he said.
Snow said he’d also like to help people with disabilities who are being paid less than the minimum wage.
He also said health care is too expensive, for both corporations and individuals.
“The high cost of health care is something we need to address as a nation and as a state,” Snow said.
Snow said he believes Maine’s education system is strong, but that there is room for improvement. He said less money should go to administrators and more should go to helping students.
“There’s an entire administrative structure taking money from the classrooms,” he said.
On issues specific to Yarmouth, Snow said he’d like to see the Royal River maintained more frequently for clammers and fishermen. Regarding town development, he said change is a good thing, but that Yarmouth isn’t changing as much as residents may fear it is.
“I’d like to see us continue to work on our Route 1 corridor,” Snow said. “It’s an economic driver for the community.”
He said Yarmouth has to make sure when bringing in new businesses that they work for the town.
“You have to be able to maintain growth, but it has to be smart growth,” Snow said.