Van Syckel stands between Monaghan and 4th House term from Cape Elizabeth

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Three-term incumbent state Rep. Kim Monaghan, D-Cape Elizabeth, is being challenged by a first-time candidate, Republican George Van Syckel, in House District 30.

Monaghan, 57, is a lifelong Cape Elizabeth resident and the project manager at, a nonprofit online news publication based in Portland. She is also an adjunct professor of tourism marketing at the University of Southern Maine.

She said her views on issues align with those held by her constituents.

“I think mine would reflect more of the views of Cape Elizabeth than my opponent’s,” Monaghan said.

Van Syckel, also 57, has lived in Cape Elizabeth “on and off” throughout his life and has been a resident for the past four years. He is a salesman at Prime Mercedes in Scarborough and is also a minister.

He is a member of the Spurwink Rod and Gun Club and said he decided to run after a gun club member asked if anyone would volunteer.

“It wasn’t my goal to be a politician,” Van Syckel said.

Monaghan and Van Syckel are scheduled to participate in a candidates night on Oct. 20 at Town Hall. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Action against LePage

The two candidates had different opinions on whether any action should be taken against Gov. Paul LePage following LePage’s recent racially inflammatory comments and a threatening voicemail he left for Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook.

“Yes, I would (want to take action),” Monaghan said. “I’ve made it very clear that the governor needs to step down, resign, and seek help. I haven’t wavered on that.”

Van Syckel, on the other hand, said he’s not sure what legal action the Legislature could take against LePage. He also said no action is necessary.

“I do not know of any crimes he has committed,” Van Syckel said. “I’m unaware that he’s betrayed our state in any way.”

Opioid crisis

Regarding the state’s opioid crisis, Monaghan said the Legislature should expand Medicaid to help low-income residents.

“Medicaid expansion would help them access health care, including mental health and substance abuse services,” she said.

Continuing to address the epidemic is important, she added.

“I believe there should be a combination of more funding and treatment, and addressing the public safety side needs to continue,” Monaghan said.

Van Syckel said he’s glad the opioid crisis is being addressed, but feels it is up to the addict to make positive change.

“My own personal slant is, I’m strong on personal accountability and responsibility,” he said.

Van Syckel said parents need to teach their children about drug abuse so they don’t grow up to become addicts, and “it’s not the role of government to replace the family.” He added that the Legislature needs to help parents put “the right information into their children’s minds.”

No. 1 problem

According to Monaghan, the biggest issue facing the Legislature is fixing the economy and keeping young people in Maine.

“I still think the number one issue is to increase jobs and build the economy,” she said.

Monaghan said she’s concerned about the number of young people from northern Maine who are moving to the southern part of the state or leaving Maine altogether. She said she supports “A Better State of Maine,” an initiative announced by Democrats last week that plans to train people for jobs in Maine and strengthen the economy.

Van Syckel said he doesn’t like to use the word “problem,” and that the biggest thing the Legislature can do to help Maine is to advise residents on how to raise their children. He said the state should consider using public service announcements to share the information.

“The most important thing Maine can do is encourage adults with the importance of training their children to study hard in school, be responsible with what they have, and to set realistic expectations,” Van Syckel said. “The most important thing the government can do is inspire people to be great again.”

Key local issue

When asked about issues that resonate in Cape Elizabeth, Monaghan said the most important thing to do is revitalize the town center.

“I support more development here and I think we have the town center to do it,” she said.

Working on the town center will require a “balance of protecting our environment and also creating a vibrant economy,” Monaghan added. She said she plans to look at towns similar to Cape Elizabeth with strong downtown areas and study the approach taken when they were created.

Van Syckel said having strong schools is the most important issue in Cape Elizabeth.

“I think the most important thing to the community is education,” he said.

He added that drug use is an issue in town as well, and that “opioids aren’t just a problem of poor or homeless people.” He said addicts need the support and help of their families.

“It’s the responsibility of the strong to take care of the weak,” Van Syckel said. “It’s not the responsibility of government.”

Clinton vs. Trump

When asked who she plans to vote for in the upcoming presidential election, Monaghan didn’t hesitate.

“I wholeheartedly support Hillary Clinton,” she said.

Van Syckel wouldn’t say who he is voting for, but praised Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“I never vote for a person,” he said. “I vote for principles.”

Citizen initiatives

Monaghan said she hasn’t made up her mind about statewide Question 1, which would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana as an agricultural product.

“I know a lot of my constituents in Cape Elizabeth are against (Question 1),” she said. “I’m leaning towards no, but I’m undecided.”

Monaghan said she fully supports Question 2 (which would establish a 3 percent tax on household incomes of more than $200,000 to fund education), Question 3, (which would mandate specific background checks for the sale and transfer of guns), Question 4 (increasing the hourly minimum wage to $12 by 2020), Question 5 (establishing ranked-choice voting across the state), and Question 6 (issuing $100 million in bonds for transportation projects).

Van Syckel was unaware of the intent of most of the state referendum questions – “I haven’t familiarized myself enough with all of them,” he said – but said he is strongly opposed to Question 3, and offered opinions about the other five when they were explained to him.

“I am absolutely voting no on 3,” Van Syckel said. “There’s already too many laws on guns.”

He said his “verdict is still out” on Questions 1 and 2. Regarding Question 4, Van Syckel said he doesn’t oppose a minimum wage, meaning a minimum wage of any amount, but that having a minimum wage impedes business start-ups. He also said raising the minimum wage addresses the wrong issue.

“I think we need to address what we can do with the money,” he said.

Van Syckel said he is opposed to Question 5.

“I’m totally against that one and it’s not because my guy won,” he said, referring to LePage’s re-election in 2014.

He said he’s also against Question 6 because he’d “like to see a little more accountability from the Transportation Department.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Van Syckel

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.