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. Katrina Smith, Republican, is seeking election to represent Maine House District 96, which includes Belmont, Liberty, Lincolnville, Montville, Morrill, Palermo, Searsmont
Please provide a concise biography of yourself.
Raised by a single mom in Appleton I have lived in Maine almost my entire life. I received a bachelor of arts from Gordon College and have successfully worked in human resources, banking and real estate at different times in my career.
Currently my husband, Michael, and I are real estate investors and I am the proud mom of two teenage sons and a daughter in college. I have struggled, rejoiced and lived among the community I hope to serve and believe that my common sense attitude, frugality and love of people will bring many benefits to my district.
What are the three most pressing issues facing Maine, as a state, today, and how would you like to see them resolved?
Business Recovery: Maine needs to look at other states that are successful and follow their lead. Maine is ranked one of the worst states in the nation for business and we will NEVER recover if we don't change that embarrassing fact. Their are successful states in the country that are similar to Maine and we can look at their tax structure and learn from how they are a pro business environment
The regressive tax structure: In Maine we have an overburdensome tax structure which taxes those who can afford the least with a high percentage of their income going to taxes. We need to look at our tax system and weed out the waste ie. paying for frivolous departments and pet projects.
Opioid Addiction: The issue starts with opportunity for youth and their future. Kids must have lives of purpose and the ability to pursue their dreams. Maine must invest in our youth in meaningful and deep ways, ideas include insuring monetary resources are being spread evenly throughout the state of Maine for education to greatly increasing the training opportunities available in High School and equally as important, to adults.
How will you protect the local (municipal) taxpayer as you help shape a state budget?
I will look at taking slimming down burdensome costs to the education system which is always the highest cost to municipal Governments. Common Core, and the requirements to upkeep the program, has shown no tangible benefits and is a disaster for municipal budgets. Common core needs to be on the hot seat to see if it should be discontinued. Also Maine has one of the highest administrative costs in the country in our Education system (35 for every 10,000 kids compared to a number of other states who have 9 for every 10,000) and we must look at reducing that cost.
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?
Jobs and employment are the answer. Of course housing is expensive if your job is lower paying and without benefits. Yes we have a housing shortage, but with jobs our citizens will not have to seek assistance for housing, but be able to achieve the American dream on their own. We can look at increasing opportunities for affordable housing for those in a situation that does not enable them to have the income which provides them safe and healthy housing. I would seek expert opinions on re-entry services and the need for emergency shelter and make a common sense decision that serves the people who need it.
What legislative committees would you like to serve on and why?
I would like to serve on the Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business Committee or Health and Human Services. The Economy Committee because I believe myself to be innovative and an out of the box thinker and that I could use my skills of negotiation and problem solving to take the state out of the path of a failed economy that it finds itself now in. I would consider the Department of Health and Human Services, because of the above mentioned qualities, but also because I have a huge heart for those who are suffering in our state. Children, the elderly, veterans and the disabled NEED someone who cares deeply about them and who believes their lives have value beyond measure.
Maine’s economy relies on small and micro-businesses. How will you help the entrepreneur succeed in this state, especially given the pandemic?
The entrepreneur is what is going to bring our state back from the economic collapse we see before us. Mainers have a spirit of ingenuity, passion and a can do attitude that won't let them be down for long. However, we need to make their path easy. I believe we should first look at the businesses that were successful and had to shut down only because of the lockdown and then work with federal resources and with municipalities to give them the opportunity to open a new business up quickly. Cutting red tape and supporting them should be our top priority.
What is your vision for affordable health care?
Health care (hospitals, clinics etc.) is not required to be competitive or frugal with the services they provide. We must start demanding both frugality and competitive pricing because any other solution will still be a burden no matter the concept that anyone comes up with on the back end. I was a Director of Human Resources in the past and developed, negotiated plans for a nationwide company. I have seen the decisions that go into developing affordable health care and believe it can be done, but it must be approached from every angle not just one such as a blanket statement of free healthcare for all.
Does the State of Maine need to improve its public health system?
The public health system will have fewer enrolled in the program once gainful employment is brought back to the state. However, based on all that I see in rural Maine among the elderly and disable I believe that we cannot have our most vulnerable citizens being crushed by ill health and the cost of healthcare and we must work to provide for those unable to provide for themselves.
What are the greatest strengths in your district, and how do you hope to support them?
The greatest strengths in my district are the ingenuity and variety of skills represented within it. The people of my district are hard working and whether it is being self employed or working for an employer they will rise to the challenge of being experts in their field. I hope to support them by bringing several more large businesses into our district to have gainful employment for those who wish to provide for their families in a traditional way and then focus on the numerous self employed individuals and what their needs are to operate smoothly and successfully.
What are the greatest problems to address in your district, and how do you intend to address them?
Economic opportunity, access to meaningful training and a path to success. As mentioned previously I will actively and aggressively seek employers to come to our County to provide a secure future for ourselves and our children.
What is your position on law enforcement reform in the State of Maine?
We can always do better. That being said I would never defund the police or replace them with social workers. Training and community involvement are key to keeping our law enforcement respected and an integral part of the safety of our towns.
What are your thoughts about the state’s response to the pandemic?
I believe the Governor was right to shut down the state for the first 4 weeks and then I believe her response became arbitrary and misguided. I say arbitrary because the virus couldn't tell the difference between Walmart and a small store yet the small store was shut down and I say misguided because she acted, and continues to act, without a bipartisan approach to governing our state.
Do you support construction of the 145-mile Central Maine Power transmission line from Quebec to Massachusetts?
I do not support the CMP transmission line as it is currently presented. I believe the number of towns that have voted to keep it from happening on their land should have as much power as CMP.
Free space! Is there anything else you want voters to know about you or your vision not addressed through this questionnaire?
I can promise to do my best to listen to and concentrate on issues important to the people of my district. I am a conservative and with that comes the responsibility to protect our constitutional rights, our vulnerable and our future with compassion, integrity and with due diligence. I will not place pet projects above the people of Maine and will work to make certain our children and grandchildren are proud to call Maine home.