district includes belfast, belmont, northport

On the issues: House District 39 candidate Stephen Hemenway

Tue, 11/01/2022 - 8:15pm

    Penobscot Bay Pilot has posed questions to each candidate running for Maine State Legislature, providing the opportunity for the public to better understand their position on issues important to the state. Candidates responding with their individual written answers will have their responses stored in the Pilot’s 2022 Election Resource Guide.

    Stephen Hemenway, a Republican, is seeking election to represent Maine House District 39, which includes Belfast, Belmont and Northport. 


    Please provide a concise biography of yourself, and state why you are running for political office.

    My name is Stephen J. Hemenway and I’m running for State House District 39 Representative. I am a retired deputy sheriff of 32 years and have lived in Northport for 10 years.

    I write and produce music, am the author of “The Slouch in the Couch” series of children’s learning books and currently write, produce and host the national public access educational family TV show, “The Children’s Corner.” All seasons and episodes of this show can also be seen on YouTube, on my “Slouchman Channel.”


    What are the three most pressing issues facing Maine, as a state, today, and how would you like to see them resolved?

    1. Education: Schools have the job of teaching the basics of education to our children. This includes but is not limited to, reading, printing, arithmetic, geography, history, etc., etc.

    Many school curriculums are crossing the line, teaching kindergarten and first graders about sex. Taxpayer dollars are being used to produce cartoons with inappropriate sexual connotations, curriculum and other materials dealing with topics that are best left to parents to explain when appropriate.

    It is the responsibility of parents to teach and explain any other sexual information to their children because they know their child best. If elected, I will sponsor an “act” that recognizes the rights of parents and guardians to know what their children are being taught, when taught remotely over the internet, as well as in the classroom.

    2. Energy: The cost of energy continues to rise with heating being a huge financial burden in the winter for a lot of Maine residents. This is a situation that has to be looked at deeply. I suggest a 4 month tax holiday for full time residents of Maine, decreasing energy taxes from January 1st through April 1st. After that, the taxes go back to their regular percentages.

    This includes the gasoline tax that is used to maintain our roads, which is why I’m seeking a reduction not an elimination. Money that goes to fund our roads and bridges will come from the state budget. The tax money saved here will put more money in the pockets of Maine residents that they can use towards their heating expenses. This is only one idea, others have to be found.

    3. Environment: Maine is a “tourism” state. A significant part of our economy comes from tourism. Part of that tourism takes place in the fall, when people come out to see the changing of the leaves. Currently, they can now see the chopping down of the trees and the installation of solar farms.

    These solar panels are filled with toxic and caustic chemicals (hazmat) that decrease in efficiency with each passing year and have seals that are subject to leakage. They are a blight on this state’s landscape and are displacing animals’ habitat as well. I propose a limit of solar farms in Maine, not unlike the limit of lobster fishing licenses we have. With no limits, these farms will continue to grow and one day, when these panels begin to fail, there will be a huge hazmat problem for all of us.


    Maine is grappling with a housing shortage, and legislation has been crafted — and passed last year — at the Maine Legislature to try and ease the situation by allowing greater density in all municipalities. Those municipalities now are analyzing this new state rule to understand how it applies to local zoning ordinances. Do you think this was an appropriate law to pass?

    If you’re referring to LD 2003, which passed this year, I am absolutely opposed to this law. It never should have passed! This 7 page law is called, “An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Commission To Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Zoning and Land Use Restrictions.” Simply put, it’s a law that ultimately seeks to supplant local control with state control.

    The “act” itself states “section 8 housing” several times within its 7 pages. It should be up to the various towns to determine what type of housing should be built in their area. Having a 32 year law enforcement history and a daughter that used to live in this type of housing, I saw first hand and what can take place. Local communities can and should decide what works best for them, not bureaucrats in Augusta.


    Do you have other ideas, and proposals, to help ease the housing problem?

    Take care of our homeless problem here before adding to the problem by attracting people who are in our country illegally. The governor has indicated that the State of Maine will accept up to 60,000 more at a time when our citizens are not being served.

    The governor also wants to pay the rent of 200 families in our country illegally for two years using our tax dollars. Where are they going to live? Stopping the influx of people in this country illegally to Maine is a first step towards solving any housing problem.


    What legislative committees would you like to serve on and why?

    1. Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee
    2. Education and Cultural Affairs Committee
    3. Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee
    4. Environmental and Natural Resources Committee

    These committees interest me as they represent issues I am passionate about.


    Maine’s economy relies on small and micro-businesses. How will you help the entrepreneur succeed in this state?

    Reduce the regulatory and tax burdens on small businesses and reward those who work. Small businesses, if they survived, lost a lot of ground when Governor Mills shut down the state. We need to help them recover and prosper. That will benefit our local communities and the state.


    What are the greatest economic, cultural and social strengths in your district, and how will you support them?

    The best policies come from the ideas and spirit of our local communities, not from big government. I want local good sense and sound judgement to drive decisions, not ideas from New York or San Francisco.


    What are the greatest problems in your district, and how do you intend to address them?

    The fact that the average Maine household is paying $556 more a month and $6,570 a year more in increased prices than 2021 due to the failed federal and state economic policies that are making Maine unaffordable for the average people. The opioid/fentanyl crisis is not receiving enough attention and is a problem that is affecting everyone.


    Do you support construction of the 145-mile Central Maine Power transmission line from Quebec to Massachusetts?

    No. This transmission line is only good for CMP, Quebec and Massachusetts. The only thing it does for Maine is ruin parts of the Maine undeveloped North Woods and disrupt the life of the wildlife, including deer and our native trout.


    The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services recently received funding from lawmakers to fund five public defenders to travel the state representing indigent defendants. Its executive director says that is “not a solution, it’s a patch" and that the agency needs an estimated $51 million to open public defender offices in all 16 counties. Should the legislature be looking to fund more public defenders?

    Poor economic policies are creating more poverty, which in turn is putting an added strain on organizations that provide indigent legal services. Current legislative priorities favor special interests over critical needs like this one.


    At least four county jails in Maine have combined to record nearly 1,000 phone calls between jailed defendants and their attorneys. What action would you like to see the legislature and governor take to ensure this never again happens?

    We need to protect all constitutional rights, including those of defendants.


    Maine is one of 16 states that does not offer parole after abolishing it in 1976. Should the state reinstate the possibility of parole?

    If elected, I will confer with and listen to members of the legal community, law enforcement, other experts and all concerned before taking a position.


    There is a statewide shortage of nurses willing to work at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. What more should the state be doing to attract workers?

    We have Governor Mills to thank for taking a bad situation and making it worse by requiring healthy, long-term workers that were pandemic heroes to be fired. Then she allowed Covid-positive workers to continue working if they were vaccinated. A change of attitude can begin the process of turning things around.


    What is your position on abortion?

    Nothing has changed in Maine following the SCOTUS decision. This is not a black or white issue but I personally don’t believe in abortion. However, there are times when a bad situation causes an unwanted pregnancy.

    So, there must be a science-based balance. When a woman gets pregnant, she has 90 days from the start of the pregnancy to determine if she wants an abortion or not. It’s a woman’s body and she should have time to determine what she wants to do in consultation with her doctor.


    The Maine Dept. of Transportation is focusing more on active transportation (bike and pedestrian, as well as public transportation). How would you like to see this implemented in your district?

    I want locally supported projects, especially ones that fix our roads and bridges. I will work with MDOT on these and active transportation projects to ensure all local projects meet the needs of and are supported by our communities.


    What is your position on Gov. Janet Mills' energy policy?

    You never put all your eggs in one basket! Janet Mills wants to rely on one energy source only for the State of Maine and that’s renewable energy, which she wants Maine to be 80% using by 2030 and 100% using by 2050. The renewable energy she is looking at are windmills and solar panels.

    They are not 100% clean as she’d like people to think. Solar panels are loaded with caustic chemicals that take light, turn it to DC power that’s stored in batteries. At night, and on cloudy or rainy days, that DC power drains. How many of those type of days do we have in Maine? That power also needs to be changed to AC power so you can use it homes, businesses, etc. Inverters and generators running on fossil fuel are used to change the DC power to AC power. As the solar panels age and lose their effectiveness, how do you throw them away? When they leak and poison the ground, how do you fix the contamination?

    I have no problem with private citizens putting solar panels or windmills on their private property as their choice of power. However, we should also have the freedom to choose other types of energy, ie: fossil fuel, natural gas, heating oil and the like. There are only two types of energy that are 100% clean: hydroelectric and nuclear power.


    If a voter expressed concern to you about voting security in Maine, how would you respond?

    Like the overwhelming majority of Mainers, I support voter I.D. When you get on a plane you need I.D. When you buy alcohol you need I.D. When you vote, which has a direct affect on your state or country, you should have I.D. It’s not hard to acquire and it will help reduce fraud.


    What is your position on gun control?

    Maine is one of the safest states in the country, so we shouldn’t mess with that. Gun control is the violent offender’s dream. These laws only control the law abiding citizen. I guess I understand that because of my years in law enforcement. Chicago has stringent gun control laws, yet they are at the top of the list for gun violence in the country. I have no problem ensuring somebody doesn’t have a violent or criminal history where a gun was misused. Other than that, it’s our constitutional right to own a gun and I back that up.


    What is your vision of Maine in 20 years?

    My vision is for Maine to be an even more beautiful state, with its blue skies and gorgeous countryside. I also see Maine as a more affordable state to live in with positive legislative decisions driving that affordability. Parents over schools, localities determining their own destinies and businesses free of government over reach, make for the best state in the Union to live in.


    Free space! Is there anything else you want voters to know about you or your vision not addressed through this questionnaire?

    As your Representative, I will represent District 39 with no political agenda, no biases and no favorites. There is no pleasing everyone when making a decision whether or not to vote “yes” or “no” on an “act.” Therefore, I pledge to engage with my constituents to determine how the majority want me to vote on the toughest issues.

    It’s time to start a true representation of District 39 which will benefit all of us. We are a team and all must work together.