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. Duncan Milne, Republican, seeks election to represent Senate District 11, which includes Belfast, Belmont, Brooks, Burnham, Frankfort, Freedom, Islesboro, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Lincolnville, Monroe, Montville, Morrill, Northport, Palermo, Prospect, Searsmont, Searsport, Stockton Springs, Swanville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity, Waldo and Winterport.
1. Please provide a concise biography of yourself.
I have dedicated my life to serving our country and to helping those who have been touched by military service. After decades away due to my own service, I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream and return to Maine. Our state is an incredibly special place, and I want to get to work to help it thrive. It would be an honor to continue my journey of service as the next State Senator for District 11.
As a retired Marine Colonel, I have demonstrated excellence that spans 25 years of active duty combat and non-combat leadership. While on active duty, I served primarily as an AH-1W attack helicopter pilot, serving on almost every continent. My experience includes work at the highest levels of our military and Government as well as executive level corporate interaction.
I retired from active service in 2011 and joined the Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services in 2015. I am a recognized national leader who works across the United States to break down barriers and connect individuals and organizations with easily accessible solutions that veterans and military families need to find meaningful employment, education and training, housing, and wellness in the communities where they live.
2. What are the three most pressing issues facing Maine, as a state, today, and how would you like to see them resolved?
Leadership, an unfriendly business environment, and the net departure of talent from our state.
1) Leadership; elections have consequences and we need the constituents of Maine to take that to heart in November.
2) Unfriendly Business Environment: we need to make Maine much more attractive to potential businesses by providing reliability, predictability, and transparency with regard to the reduction of regulations and tax burdens.
3) Departure of Net Talent: Maine needs to be more than a pretty place to live. We need to actively compete with our neighboring states to incentivize people and families to move to and stay in Maine.
3. How will you protect the local (municipal) taxpayer as you help shape a state budget?
One of the most dangerous things you can do to a community is to provide a service or program in local communities that their tax programs come to rely on and then when the budget winds shift pull the carpet out from that community. Sustainable, relevant, evidence based, and impactful solutions are born in communities, not big government.
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?
The answer is public-private partnerships where the local government can be an enabler but the primary players with ‘skin in the game’ are local business that can benefit from employing many of these segments of our society and help them with a hand up. These same public private partnerships can enable development of emergency assistance programs and shelters that are dual use for workforce and response to catastrophic events.
5. What legislative committees would you like to serve on and why?
Veterans and Legal Affairs based on my extensive national background and public voice for veterans and their families. Maine has a rich history of military service. It is incumbent upon our state to ensure Veterans and their families can thrive in the communities where they chose to live.
Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business based on my activities over the last 5 years in finding innovative ways to increase opportunities in licensing, credentialing, and employment in skilled trades. The main driver for these activities is the businesses who have to invest in this workforce development but need to be enabled by policy that assists rather than hampers expansion through over regulation.
6. Maine’s economy relies on small and micro-businesses. How will you help the entrepreneur succeed in this state, especially given the pandemic?
I’ve enabled entrepreneurs across the country. The key to a successful entrepreneur is access to affordable capital and technical assistance throughout the development and execution of their business plan and model. Business mentoring is a proven technique for providing the best opportunity for success — even more so in an challenging environment like a pandemic. Business can build businesses if the regulatory and tax structure are friendly.
7. What is your vision for affordable health care?
What it is not is a system run and managed by big government. Big government rarely executes programs of this scope well and is hampered by excessive waste and arbitrary decisions on regulations and penalties. Fair market competition is known to spur innovation and drive down costs. Government regulation idles innovation and explodes costs for health care providers making them less likely to continue serving their populations.
8. Does the State of Maine need to improve its public health system?
Yes. We need to increase access to health services and minimize its impact on the taxpayers of Maine.
9. What are the greatest strengths in your district, and how do you hope to support them?
The greatest strengths in District 11 are the diversity of backgrounds and skills of the people coupled with a strong work ethic. In order to best support them we need to remove regulations, reduce taxes, spark innovation, and take appropriate risks to expand opportunity for everyone, not just one segment of the population or one geographic area.
10. What are the greatest problems to address in your district, and how do you intend to address them?
The lack of a resilient and vibrant business environment across the entire county continue to be a hindrance to long term success for all the residents. The economy is hampered by overregulation of small business, the lack of skilled labor and the challenge of transferability of licenses and credentials for new residents who want to come to Maine but can’t make the math work.
11. What is your position on law enforcement reform in the State of Maine?
Many times, we come across events that shake the very foundations of what we believe in and force us to look inward and review and update our techniques and procedures. Law enforcement in Maine is a center of gravity in every community that we rely on to provide us with a sense of well-being and confidence. I’m confident every law enforcement organization in the state has conducted this inward look with an eye towards evolving their practices. Our first responders should be the subject of increased funding and support, not subject the those who wish to pander to the mob mentality of hitch their wagon to the irresponsible ‘defunding’ rhetoric of this most important public function.
12. What are your thoughts about the state’s response to the pandemic?
When confronted with a challenge, bureaucrats tend to adopt of fortress mentality, hunker down, and await better times. That is exactly what we have seen since March when what we needed was leadership. Our state’s response to the pandemic has exacerbated an environment of division and fearmongering that will have negative implications for years. The administration’s actions have relegated key stakeholders to the sidelines and relied instead on cookie-cutter policies that bureaucrats prefer. Instead of leading, inspiring, and motivating the citizens of Maine to a common goal, the response has led to confusion, fear, and financial vulnerability that will impact the state for years to come.
13. Do you support the proposed 145-mile Central Maine Power transmission line that the company hopes to build from Quebec to Massachusetts?
I support the current efforts to allow Mainers to vote in the referendum and have voice in the approval of the CMP corridor.
14. Do you support the Nordic Aquafarm proposal, as it has been submitted to the local and state permitting committees and agencies?
As long as it is in compliance with environmental impact requirements, local and state permitting, the Nordic Aquafarm provides a path forward to a more resilient economy for Waldo County.
15. Free space! Is there anything else you want voters to know about you or your vision not addressed through this questionnaire?
An open letter to Waldo County:
I will listen and learn
I will be honest and responsive
I will lead in difficult times
I will respect your unique circumstance
I will balance business and the environment
I will be transparent and share information
I will be responsible and accountable
I will speak my mind….I expect you to do the same..this is a partnership
I will disagree with you…and that is okay..this is a partnership
I will challenge you…and you should challenge me...this is a partnership
I will act and perform like an adult
I will rely on evidence not emotion
I will value performance over personality
I will build while others tear down
I will battle the naysayers and pessimists
I will see you as victors not victims
I will work for you, not agendas