Voters residing in House of Representatives District 134 will decide who will represent the district in the Maine House of Representatives on Tuesday, July 14. From the Democratic Party, Julie Eaton and incumbent Genevieve McDonald are seeking the seat. No candidates from other parties are seeking the seat. Locally, House District 134 includes the islands of Isle au Haut, Vinalhaven and North Haven. The district also serves the communities of Cranberry Isles, Deer Isle, Frenchboro, Southwest Habor, Stonington, Swan's Island, Tremont and Marshall Island Township.
Please provide a concise biography of yourself.
My Name is Julie Eaton and I am a lobsterman from Stonington, Maine. I am starting my 35th year earning my living from the sea. Born in Ellsworth, raised in Surry, and attended high school in Blue Hill, I am tied closely to the ocean.I fell in love with flying at 13 and could fly a plane before I could drive a car. I attended college in Salt Lake City, Utah where I studied Aeronautical Science. Upon returning from college, My life changed dramatically due to a near-fatal car accident and I turned to my love of the ocean. I dove commercially for 10 years for scallops and have more than 10,000 hours under the sea. It was a natural progression for me to search out a way to work on the ocean year-round and I turned to lobstering and the great people of Vinalhaven to teach me.
I lived on Vinalhaven for 10 years, continued to heal and learn. I now live in Deer Isle, captain my own boat out of Deer Isle, and have been married to another lobsterman named Sidney Eaton for 17 years. I joined the Maine Lobstering Union in 2012 and became the Chair for the MLU's Legislative committee where I fight for fair regulations for all fishermen. In 2019, I made 53 trips to Augusta and testified in front of six committees.
My community has asked me to run after fighting for several people and small businesses in Augusta. After much discussion with my family, a lot of self-reflection, and attending several training classes like Emerge (graduate class of 2019) and the AFL-CIO training class, I decided to run. I love our coastal communities and the unique way of life they represent. I realize that that way should and must be protected. I am not running because I have all the answers but rather because I believe we are stronger when we stand together and we understand our needs best. I will be the voice of the PEOPLE of the towns in District 134 (Vinalhaven, North Haven, Stonington, Deer Isle, Isle-au Haut, Southwest Harbor, Tremont, Frenchboro, Swan's Island, The Cranberry Islands, and Marshall Island Township). It isn't about me but rather about US!!!
What are the three most pressing issues facing Maine, as a state, today, and how would you like to see them resolved?
1) Obviously this pandemic must come first! Our State has been turned upside down and we are all suffering! From small businesses who are facing closure, the seafood harvesters from all industries who are unable to sell their catch, car dealerships who can't sell vehicles, restaurants who can only host a % of their usual customers, and many more, our people are facing terrible a financial downturn through no fault of their own! I don't have the answers to what we are facing but will support programs to help.
2) Climate Change: I see it every day on the water by water temperature and unusual creatures I bring up in my traps. Things are changing. I would like Maine to invest in more solar power and encourage the use of hybrid and electric cars. We are such a diverse State that public transportation will not work in rural Maine but alternatively powered vehicles well help.
3) Our Fisheries are under attack. Maine seafood harvesters have worked tirelessly to build sustainable fisheries and have achieved that goal at great cost, a cost they were happy to pay to ensure the survival of their industries for future generations. The money that comes to the State from the Maine Lobstermen, for example, has very fr reaching effects on our state economy. It isn't just about the lobstermen, dock workers, dealers, trucking companies who deliver bait, fuel, and supplies but it affects the grocery stores, schools, daycare providers, car dealerships, insurance businesses, hospitals, and so much more. Fisheries in Maine are one of the biggest economic drivers in our State and fishermen deserve fair regulations that will not cause them physical harm or financial ruin.I will always fight for our fishermen!
How will you protect the local (municipal) taxpayer as you help shape a state budget?
I will fight against increased property taxes for the people of Maine.
Given the shortfall of housing in your district, how should the state approach the need for more workforce housing, as well as re-entry housing for the formerly incarcerated, and emergency shelter for those suffering through extended power outages?
I believe that our coastal communities are best suited to handle these issues. Every town is different and a one size fits all approach will not work for everyone. That being said, I would like to see the State develop a fund that would aid towns in developing more housing as it is needed, a fund that towns could draw from, and with the rent earned by the housing return to the fund until the amount owed was replaced.
What legislative committees would you like to serve on and why?
Marine resources committee would definitely be a choice as being a fishermen in a fishing district, I have an inherent knowledge of the sea and could bring the voices of the harvesters to Augusta. The second choice would be the Environment and Natural Resources committee. Our natural resources are so very important to our entire state and have a huge impact on not only our coastal region but people throughout our State.
Maine’s economy relies on small and micro-businesses. How will you help the entrepreneur succeed in this state, especially given the pandemic?
I will listen first to the needs of small business owners. In talking to business owners in my area, I have heard from most that the cost of insurances they are required to carry is extreme and they have a very limited selection of options from which to choose. I believe that competition in the market place is a good thing and could help reduce these burdensome costs.
What is your vision for affordable health care?
We have seen too many people have to choose between medicine and healthcare and no one should forgo a doctor's visit in fear of financial ruin. We can do better. I think that medicare for all or a similar program that is tailored to fit Maine people would help fix this situation.
Does the State of Maine need to improve its public health system?
Yes, we can do better.
What are the greatest strengths in District 134, and how do you hope to support them?
Our greatest strengths in this district are definitely the people and our close-knit communities. I will as I have in the past, stand with our communities to fight to make our lives and businesses better, stronger, and more successful. The first step is to listen. I will support legislation that increases affordable broadband in our rural towns and island communities. The pandemic has shown us how important this is through everything from the education of our children, shopping from the safety of our homes, and outreach for small businesses.
What are the greatest problems to address in District 134, and how do you intend to address them?
We transport millions of live seafood products across our roads daily. Often times we feel like the last ones to be considered and wen asked are not even on the schedule to receive attention to our roads. When we are delivering live products that are damaged in transit we lose and so does the state. When our ambulance has to transport patients to the hospital their deserve safe roads to do than on!
What is your opinion on how Gov. Mills’ administration has handled the pandemic in the State of Maine?
I think that considering that there was no guidebook or previous experience to go on, Gov. Mills has done a pretty good job. Without the steps, we have taken I think there would have been more cases and the cost of human lives would have been higher. Not that is not to say that if this happens again, we couldn't do better because we always learn and improve, and have been through, we can make adjustments and react in a better manner. I am extremely thankful for the daily briefings and hard work of the people at Maine CDC in keeping us informed.
With some anticipating another wave of COVID-19 in the near future, what actions would you want to take in the new legislative term to shape how Maine responds to any resurgence?
In areas with low or no resurgence, Businesses should be able to remain as long as social distancing guidelines are met and masks are worn. I also think that either all people wear masks in public or none do. There is way too much confusion. I think with the infrastructure we now have in place concerning how to handle a pandemic like grocery delivery and curbside delivery, etc..., people don't need to go into stores without wearing a mask. If they want to go out and walk, hike, bike, or any other outside activity where they can social distance that is fine but in stores where many people are gathered masks should be worn. In a pandemic, we need to care for each other!
Do you support the proposed 145-mile Central Maine Power transmission line that the company hopes to build from Quebec to Massachusetts?
NO! Part of the reason Maine has a lower carbon footprint than many states is that our trees absorb the carbon in the air coming here from other places. Why cut down 145 miles of our great Northern woods only to push power to another state? Not a fan!!
What is your position on offshore wind farms?
I believe in green energy and cutting our dependence on foreign oil. I do not think that windmills belong in our ocean. I would be in favor of solar power expansion in Maine.
How should the marine fisheries industry be balanced with environmental and habitat protection?
Maine Fishermen are already stewards of our ocean! There are regulations concerning the environment and the protection of the ocean's inhabitants. This should be a conversation that everyone in Maine understands. There needs to be more public outreach to inform the public about what we do on the water, the steps we have already taken to protect the ocean where we live, work and play, and why. Fishermen need to be given credit for the steps they have taken to ensure the survival of our oceans. We are the first ones to notice changes and needs and our observations should matter After all, we are out there every day.
What should Maine do to help protect the whales from entanglement and maintain a thriving lobster industry?
There has never been a right whale proven to have been entangled in Maine gear. Maine fishermen use much smaller diameter rope on their traps that will part if enough pressure is applied like the force of a whale swimming into it. We also have special breakaway devices on our buoys that do the same thing. These measures have been in place for years now and are very successful. This year we colored our ropes so as to have a concrete way to prove where the whale came from when a whale is found entangled and how close it was to shore when it got entangled. We are hoping that this is a way to prove exactly what we have been saying all the time, Maine lobstermen are not entangling whales.
Now as for the sustainability of our fishery, we have strict regulations we follow to ensure that very thing. If a lobster is too small it goes back, too large it goes back, carrying eggs- she goes back and a female with a punched tail flipper also goes back into the water (even if she has no eggs). These regulations are just a couple of the 1000's of things we do to ensure the survival of our fishery. There may be slight fluctuations in the industry as there have been in the past but currently, the reports coming in are that the bottom is covered in small lobsters and the future looks bright for our industry. I wish the market looked better...
Free space! Is there anything else you want voters to know about you or your vision not addressed through this questionnaire?
Thank you for reading my thoughts and ideas. I appreciate your time and welcome you to reach out to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Julie Eaton for State Representative! Be safe! We are stronger together!