On the issues: House District 62 candidate Katrina Smith

Tue, 11/01/2022 - 7:30pm

    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.

    Katrina Smith, a member of the Republican Party, is seeking election to represent Maine House District 62, which includes Waldo County’s Palermo, the Lincoln County communities of Hibberts Gore and Somerville, as well as the Kennebec County municipalities of China and Windsor. She is running against Pamela Swift and Lindsey Harwath; access Swift’s questionnaire here.

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

    I grew up in Appleton, Maine on the farm my family had farmed for generations and have lived in many Maine communities throughout my life with the last eight years in Palermo. I have a bachelor's degree in sociology from Gordon College and am currently a realtor and run a property investment business with my husband, Michael, both in Maine and in Florida. I am incredibly blessed with three mostly grown children, two stepchildren and two granddaughters.

    I am running for political office to be a voice for common sense, liberty and freedom which has been sorely neglected in our state especially over the last three years. I care deeply for the people of Maine and want to see the struggles so many are currently facing come to an end so that prosperity and hope will return to their families.

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

    1. Taxes: Mainers are struggling to stay in their homes, provide for their families and save for their futures. Maine has been funding pet projects with the hard earned tax money of its residents and we must eliminate and cut taxes and greatly reduce wasteful spending.

    2. Lack of Industry. Maine is the third worst state in the country to do business. Over regulation, taxes and a hostile legislative environment keep businesses away from Maine. This must change and we must do everything we can to ensure businesses want to come to Maine and want to stay here. Almost every problem in Maine (childcare, housing, health insurance) can be solved by our residents having high quality and good paying jobs.

    3. Education. No matter which side of the current debate you find yourself on regarding education practices in Maine, we must address the issues that are creating hotbeds of emotion between parents, educators and administration before further anger and distrust develops. The solution is to refocus our school on education and leave the social discussions and curriculum to the parent.

    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 do not believe that LD 2003 should have been passed. By allowing state and federal rule to intervene in our small communities we are allowing entities who are unfamiliar with the specifics of each town to rule over that town. Local control should be the only way forward for any change to zoning.

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

    Jobs, better housing opportunities always come because of better paying jobs. When an individual is making a proper wage from an industry that is expanding they will be able to more easily afford their home.

    In addition to employment we should encourage and lead private industries to explore providing workforce housing. My son, a recent high school graduate, has low cost housing provided to him by his employer and it is a great benefit to both he and his employer.

    I know that home ownership is the single best path to individual financial security and we must look toward home ownership as the ultimate goal for people in Maine.

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

    Labor and Housing. With over 10 years experience in the real estate industry and with the start of my career in the human resources/recruitment/benefits field I am uniquely educated to tackle issues that deeply affect our state. The success in my careers is because I have always challenge the status quo, brought out of the box ideas and worked to find real solutions in a straightforward manner. I am excited to begin to see real change for Maine.

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

    The state currently operates/funds programs and offices that are founded to help small businesses, I believe we must take a look at these programs to ensure they are useful and current in practice. We had hundreds of amazing small businesses close because of the lockdown and they were some of our best entrepreneurs.

    The state must refocus on these successful businesses and give them a hand up to rally again and reopen or start a new business. Their proven past successes make them the top priority to get back to work. We also must root out the policies and current legislation that make Maine the 3rd worst business environment in the country and be committed to changing that statistic.

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

    My district is a district of small and family owned businesses and will be supported by business friendly changes in Augusta that allow for lower taxes and less regulation. My district is also a bedroom community for those working in Augusta and Waterville and we must support their ability to continue to provide for their families and provide educational options that suit their needs.

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

    The substance abuse problem has hit central Maine hard and we must work towards a solution, not only for the addict, but for their families and for the safety of our community. I am not an expert on the subject, but I know we need to listen to experts, families and the addict themselves and RAPIDLY make change happen.

    The struggle to pay property tax, income tax, estate tax, excise tax, gas tax etc etc is wearing the people of my district down and is taking away their ability to save for their future. We must limit the taxation of the people of Maine and let them decide what to do with their money.

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

    This issue was settled by the people's referendum.

    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?

    All people deserve a right to be defended. As a legislator it would be my responsibility to listen to the pros and cons of having more public defenders and I would like to hear why this would only be a patch. I am not one to make any decision until I fully understand an issue so my goal would be to understand the need and make sure we fully address it.

    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?

    Everyone deserves a right to a private conversation with their legal counsel and whoever authorized this breach of law should be held accountable. Safeguards should be put into place to ensure this does not continue.

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

    Again, I would never want to make a decision without all the facts of a matter. However, recently I read several articles on the pros and cons of Parole and I was left with the feeling that for Parole to be successful we MUST have programs in place to support the parolee and that without those programs statistics show that overwhelmingly the parolee re-offends. With proper support in place I believe I would support parole for those with non-violent offenses.

    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 HAS nurses. Nurses were fired without regard for their livelihoods or our sick and elderly patients and residents. Reverse mandatory Covid vaccinations and you will have all the nurses you need.

    What is your position on abortion?

    I am pro life.

    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?

    Biking, walking and public transportation are NOT viable alternatives for my district or for many parts of our rural state. Cities and larger towns that are bike/walk friendly should take this issue on for their own constituents and provide them better options when needed and available.

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

    Governor Mills has funded alternative energy committees and initiatives with money that would have been better spent supporting the people of Maine. She used millions of our tax dollars to supplement projects she deemed acceptable and left children to die in DHHS custody, our elderly abandoned in nursing homes and our children unfairly masked in schools. Securing affordable and reliable energy for Maine must be the top priority. If it is “clean” energy we are looking at expanding we must be provided with long term research that proves these sources are truly clean and healthy for our environment.

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

    I would say that there is no harm in ensuring our voter security is top notch in Maine and that we should pursue Voter ID for future elections to ensure we can all trust election outcomes. I believe clerks and the election officials at the state do a good job, but that voter ID can only help our system.

    What is your position on gun control?

    I am against Red Flag laws and further gun control measures. Maine is one of, if not THE, safest state in the nation and it has stayed that way with our current gun laws in place.

    What is your vision of Maine in 20 years?

    A state that allows freedom to reign and personal choice to prosper. A state that hearkens back to the days when neighbors would help one another and look out for the wellbeing of all without regard to political affiliation, sexual orientation or income. A state that allows families to stay together because opportunity is readily available for their children and grandchildren. Maine is an amazing state in which to live and I want to see it stay that way.

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

    Please follow me on Facebook at Katrina Smith for Maine or see my website katrinaformaine.com for more information and updates!