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.
Stanley Paige Zeigler, Jr., a member of the Democratic party, is seeking election to represent Maine House District 40, which includes Appleton, Islesboro, Liberty, Lincolnville, Montville, Morrill, and Searsmont.
Please provide a concise biography of yourself, and state why you are running for political office.
I grew up in the Northeast in a middle-class family with several siblings. My father worked very hard in various jobs, and my mother worked very hard at home. Starting at age 15, I worked summer jobs — such as laying blacktop, doing factory maintenance, and working in a garage — until I finished college. Since then, I’ve been an ambulance worker, a photographic darkroom technician, a teacher, a professional logger, and a merchant mariner.
I received a BA from Dickinson College, an AA in navigation from Southern Maine Community College, and a certificate in logging procedures from Washington County Community College, and I attended grad school at the Maine Maritime Academy.
My professional career was mostly in the Merchant Marine, where I started as an Ordinary Seaman and worked my way up to Unlimited Tonnage, All Oceans Captain. I am married and have a daughter. I have been a State Representative since 2016 for District 96, which will be changed to District 40.
What are the three most pressing issues facing Maine, as a state, today, and how would you like to see them resolved?
The first issue is access to the essentials of modern life: health care, education, energy, housing, and the internet. We in the legislature must ensure that all Mainers have a source of these basics and can afford them. The second issue is to conserve our natural resources by moving forward with clean renewable energy sources, which are safer for our air and water. Third, we need to make sure we don’t allow known toxins to be used in producing our food or used in building our homes. We don’t need another PFAS disaster.
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?
I feel that the bill dealing with housing was appropriate and necessary. It helps towns and municipalities increase density if they desire to do so.
Do you have other ideas, and proposals, to help ease the housing problem?
There are several helpful approaches to our housing problem. The Land Bank, a bill proposed by Representative Melanie Sachs, would assist towns in turning around homes that have been foreclosed. Banks and towns often can’t move forward fast enough with abandoned homes to make them habitable again.
Also, housing stock needs to be upgraded by weatherization loans so our larger, older houses can be heated affordably, adding to the growing market for multigenerational long-term rentals. Individuals and large companies are buying homes essentially to use for short term rentals. This takes property off the market for first-time home buyers and long-term renters. To offset this downside, our state and the federal government should modify tax laws to incentivize new and more energy-efficient housing.
What legislative committees would you like to serve on and why?
I have enjoyed serving on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee for six years. Also I served on the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee and the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. I would be interested in the Transportation Committee, as I would have both Islesboro and Lincolnville in the district, and ferry service is important to both. I also sit on the Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late-Deafened and on the Governor’s Climate Council.
Maine’s economy relies on small and micro-businesses. How will you help the entrepreneur succeed in this state?
Small businesses need an educated workforce, affordable fast internet, good roads, affordable energy, and assistance with loans. They also need a tax structure that is fair and easy to understand.
What are the greatest economic, cultural and social strengths in your district, and how will you support them?
District 96, new District 40: Our district has a bounty of lakes and streams and an abundance of woodland, pasture, and farmland. Tourism is one of our important economic pillars. We need to protect the water quality in those lakes and streams. We need to protect the soil on our farms and make sure we use good lumbering practices. Our district is made up of hardworking self-reliant people who reach out to help their neighbors, but individuals can do only so much. The legislature needs to protect our assets.
What are the greatest problems in your district, and how do you intend to address them?
The problems in our district stem from poor infrastructure. Many people are working from home, but we have spotty internet service. Many of us commute, but our towns and the state struggle to maintain the roads. Rural isolation, for those who are homebound without reliable transportation, means that medical care is harder to access and first responders take longer to arrive. Roads and broadband are crucial investments for our economy.
Do you support construction of the 145-mile Central Maine Power transmission line from Quebec to Massachusetts?
I have not supported the corridor due to transparency problems from the very beginning. Hydro Quebec has not said whether they would shift their hydropower from New York to Massachusetts, so we don’t know if they’d increase clean power in the Northeast. At first CMP was only using Maine as a conduit for the power, with no benefit for our state. After more bargaining, we were given an off-ramp for power in Maine, but CMP lost our trust with their maneuvers.
We have the potential of clean renewable power from the abundant wind in Aroostook County, but we need a way to move it to the rest of our state and sell it to other states. We don’t need to make CMP investors wealthy. We need to make our state self-reliant. If we’re going to use corridors, we need to connect the ones that already exist and use them to move our home-grown electrons to market from Aroostook and thus help the farmers there.
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?
Yes, the state should be funding more public defenders. The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution states that a defendant has a right to legal counsel, and the states are responsible for ensuring this right. We can’t have a judicial system that doesn’t treat all fairly regardless of income.
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?
Our law codes need to be amended to spell out consequences if law enforcement breaches this confidentiality by eavesdropping.
Maine is one of 16 states that does not offer parole after abolishing it in 1976. Should the state reinstate the possibility of parole?
I support parole for those who deserve it.
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?
The state should facilitate health-care training, starting in public high schools, so that students can work on credits before they apply to nursing schools. Also, the state should work with health-care providers on ways to streamline the education.
Incentives should be looked at to bring people in from other areas. We need to have sufficient housing, child care, and infrastructure to bring people here to work and live.
What is your position on abortion?
I support a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care and abortion.
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 support the Maine Bike Coalition and its partnership with the DOT. On my four campaigns, I have used my bicycle to knock on doors. On the last campaign alone, I biked over 600 miles! I have ridden most of the roads in the district, but there are few with safe shoulders.
I would like to see rural roads with a shoulder for bikes on at least one side. Early on, I went to Lincolnville Center to study their sidewalks, which promote a village center by making it safer to walk along the road. Moreover, the crosswalks force traffic to slow while going through population centers.
What is your position on Gov. Janet Mills' energy policy?
As a member of the Governor’s Climate Council and the author of several bills dealing with clean renewable power, I am a strong supporter of the governor’s energy policy. This state needs to be self-sufficient in energy.
We don’t need to send our money to Texas when it can stay right here, lowering our energy costs and making Maine healthier. I have worked in two committees — the Environment and Natural Resources and the Energy, Utilities and Technology — to move our energy policy forward.
If a voter expressed concern to you about voting security in Maine, how would you respond?
Any constituent who has proof of voting irregularities should contact the Maine secretary of state. There has been no proof of large-scale election fraud anywhere in the nation. Are we so untrusting of our neighbors that we can’t accept the results of an election that doesn’t put our candidate into office? I played football into college, and at the end of each game we walked off the field, win or lose, and accepted the result.
What is your position on gun control?
As a constitutional officer, I have sworn an oath to protect and support the United States Constitution. I own firearms for hunting. The Second Amendment, as reviewed by the Supreme Court, allows individuals the right to own firearms. With that right comes responsibilities. We need sensible ways to protect our citizens from gun violence.
What is your vision of Maine in 20 years?
How many visions of the future have come to fruition? Not many, but if we work together now, in 20 years we can have a very bright future. We can continue to have clean water in our lakes, streams, rivers, and wells. We can have clean air. We can live and work in nature and not close it off in gated areas. We can have occupations that make us happy to wake up and go to work.
We can know that we need not worry about having enough to eat. We can have an educational system that helps our children learn how to solve problems. We can feel safe in our homes and streets. But we need to do the hard work now so our children can enjoy that future. We need to plan for climate change and technological change, and we need to be versatile in dealing with problems that we aren’t even aware of yet.
Free space! Is there anything else you want voters to know about you or your vision not addressed through this questionnaire?