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 2020 Election Resource Guide. Jeffrey Evangelos, Unenrolled, is seeking reelection to represent Maine House District 91, which includes Friendship, part of Union, Waldoboro and Washington.
1. Please provide a concise biography of yourself.
I went to graduate school at the University of Maine, Orono and earned a master’s degree with honors in the early 1970s. I immediately went to work as a public administrator in Maine, first in Washington County and then in 1976, at the age of 23, became town manager in Warren.
Subsequent to that, I went to work for SAD 40 for 15 years, then owned and operated a small business in Waldoboro for 20 years.
In 2012, I was elected to the Maine House of Representatives, where I currently serve and am running for my fourth term. I reside in Friendship with my wife, Harolyn York, who is a teacher at Medomak Valley High School. We've lived in Friendship for 24 years.
2. What are the three most pressing issues facing Maine, as a state, today, and how would you like to see them resolved?
For my geographic area of Maine, the three most pressing issues are:
First, the public health of my constituents, including the elderly, school children, and those with compromised immune systems;
Second, the condition of our local economy and the fate of workers and small businesses who have been ravaged by the pandemic response; and
Third, the future of our lobster industry, the engine of our local economy.
Unfortunately, protecting the public health and helping our economy recover have been in conflict, partly due to the piecemeal approach and response to COVID-19. There are too many winners and losers in both the federal and Maine's response to the crisis. Small businesses were forced to close while Walmart and other big stores were allowed to stay open, a destructive policy that makes no sense. We can't resolve these issues through one person rule, therefore,
I'm calling on Governor Mills to call us back into session so a more collaborative approach can commence.
Regarding the lobster industry, I've been fighting to protect the industry from the unreasonable right whale sanctions and will continue to support both federal and state aid to that industry. Resolution of the economic and health crisis may ultimately be dependent on the discovery and implementation of a safe vaccine, so it could be rough seas for a while.
In addition, climate change is having a negative effect on all of these issues, so we're going to have to move toward solar energy and electric vehicles in the future.
3. How will you protect the local (municipal) taxpayer as you help shape a state budget?
Legislators are unable to protect the municipal taxpayer as long as the feuding two party system and the Governor refuse to call us back into session. Projections at the State level indicate Maine is 1/2 billion dollars short this year and up to $ billion short of revenue next year. In light of this, as an Independent, I have twice already voted to go back into session so we can collaborate on discussions and solutions that will minimize the effects of the revenue crisis on our towns, schools, and property tax payers.
4. 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 will support efforts by the Maine Housing Authority to expand affordable housing. We also need to invest in both structured re-entry programs and housing to help assure those formerly incarcerated begin productive lives. Regarding emergency shelters, our current emergency responders are doing a good job of responding to this.
5. What legislative committees would you like to serve on and why?
My three choices are Judiciary Committee, State and Local Government Committee, and Marine Resource Committee. Judiciary because I have been involved in ground breaking work protecting your civil liberties, working on police and criminal justice reforms, and making sure our justice system is fair and equitable. State and Local Government Committee because I'm able to leverage my skills and experience as a public administrator to better serve my towns. Marine Resources because I want to continue my work in support of the lobster industry, the clamming industry, and other marine related businesses.
6. Maine’s economy relies on small and micro-businesses. How will you help the entrepreneur succeed in this state, especially given the pandemic?
Maine needs to continue to adopt a favorable business climate, with appropriate incentives, to support our small businesses, who in turn create jobs. In reference to the pandemic, Maine's response has been somewhat destructive to small businesses, many who were forced to close or curtail their activities while Amazon and Walmart were allowed to thrive. Not only is this not fair, it has actually destroyed businesses and families. We need to do better. The State of Maine needs to be more empathetic and responsive to our small business owners as they navigate this crisis.
7. What is your vision for affordable health care?
I support single payer, universal health care for all. Health care is a universal human right. If Europe can do it, so can the United States. My country should never allow the wealthy to have access to good healthcare while those at lower income levels suffer.
8. Does the State of Maine need to improve its public health system?
Yes, with increased investment, because good health is also good for the economy and the public in general. I'm very concerned that these mergers have concentrated too much power into the hands of a few wealthy private hospital chains at the expense of an affordable public health approach. They call themselves nonprofits but they pay administrators and other high level people in the system millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars per year while John Q. Public struggles not only to make ends meet but struggles with access to affordable health care, battling with insurance companies. It's an unsustainable model.
9. What are the greatest strengths in your district, and how do you hope to support them?
The single biggest greatest strength in my district are my people, the people I serve. They are fine people, hard working, and I'm lucky, because they treat me great. In turn, I reciprocate by working hard for them. In six years, I've scored 100% legislative attendance.
10. What are the greatest problems to address in your district, and how do you intend to address them?
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the greatest problems are now protection of public health and opening up our economy. As I stated above, we need a collaborative approach and a scientific solution to the pandemic. Once science comes up with a cure, we'll get the economy rolling again at full speed. In the mean time, this means continued federal and state support to help those that need it until the crisis ends.
11. What is your position on law enforcement reform in the State of Maine?
I've been one of the leaders in sponsoring and co-sponsoring legislation to reform law enforcement practices. My bill to implement an independent review of law enforcement officer use of force passed the Legislature and was signed into law. I also sponsored a bill to reform our post-conviction review system to assure we keep no innocent people in prison.
We also need to acknowledge that no one should be suffering the consequences of any marijuana convictions now that the State of Maine has gone into the business of collecting tax revenues on the sale of this product. It's the height of hypocrisy.
12. What are your thoughts about the state’s response to the pandemic?
I thought it started out well, but it's become too fragmented, too many winners and losers. Governor Mills must call us back into session. If she fails to do this, the coming crisis will rest on her shoulders. That is not what any of us wanted. We have a constitutional separation of powers in Maine and the Governor's reluctance to share this responsibility will not turn out well.
An example of the inadequacy of the response was our tourist season. Maine put a 14-day quarantine in place for tourists but tourists came up for a four-day weekend over July Fourth and Labor Day. This makes no sense, there was no enforcement, and as anyone who witnessed traffic on Route 1, it was a free for all of out of state folks taking little or no precautions, while they cleaned out the shelves of our grocery stores.
Expect to see a sharp rise in COVID cases as a result.
13. Do you support construction of the 145-mile Central Maine Power transmission line from Quebec to Massachusetts?
Definitely not, it's a boondoggle of massive proportions, spoiling our pristine areas for the benefit of Massachusetts. Let's frame the question this way: Maine has just discovered a massive power source on the Hudson River. To get the power to Maine, the line construction has to cut right through the beautiful Berkshire Mountains before turning left into Maine. All for 45 cents a month off their power bills! What a deal!! I think we all know what Massachusetts would have to say about this: Take a hike.
14. Free space! Is there anything else you want voters to know about you or your vision not addressed through this questionnaire?
Yes, there is one thing I'd like to say. I detest negative political campaigning. The federal Senate race is a disgrace. I hope that this campaign at all levels comes to a peaceful end and that on November 4, the day after the election, the country will move on and allow those elected to do the people's business. The entire future of our country is a stake.
My biggest fear is that neither side will accept the election results and chaos will ensue. While I'm hoping for the best, I'm expecting the worst. I'm glad I'm an Independent during these times, that's all I have to say.