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. David Miramant, Democrat, is seeking reelection to represent Maine Senate District 12, which includes Appleton, Camden, Criehaven Township, Cushing, Friendship, Hope, Isle au Haut, Matinicus Isle Plantation, Muscle Ridge Islands Township, North Haven, Owls Head, Rockland, Rockport, South Thomaston, St. George, Thomaston, Union, Vinalhaven and Warren.
1. Please provide a concise biography of yourself.
My father was in the Air Force, so we traveled throughout my childhood. My high school years were spent on the outskirts of Boston, where I became very politically active around the issues of civil rights and the Vietnam War.
I realized that politicians were not making good decisions and were not listening to the people they were supposed to represent. I committed myself to learn about the ways I could change that, and I set out to educate myself about the issues I would be expected to know if I was ever elected in the future.
I owned and operated several businesses along the way: a hotel, restaurants, and a flying service. I still have the glider ride business in Owls Head that I opened 15 years ago.
During my career as an airline pilot for Delta Air Lines, I used my travels to talk to folks around the country and the world about what worked and what didn’t. I also learned how to develop solutions through collaboration––bringing people together, learning what they bring to the situation, and helping them work as a team. I’ve found that collaboration works in all situations.
I started on the Camden Select Board, Personnel Committee, and Budget Committee. Then I represented Camden and Rockport in the Maine House of Representatives before being elected to the Maine Senate, where I’ve represented Knox County for the past six years.
My wife Dee and I raised our children, Ash and Josh, here in the Midcoast. They still comment on what a unique and wonderful place it was to grow up in. I want to make sure it stays that way for as long as people choose to raise their families here.
2. What are the three most pressing issues facing Maine today, and how would you like to see them resolved?
We need fair taxation that meets the obligations of revenue sharing to the towns, along with fully funding the state aid to education at the 55% level that was established many years ago. This requires comprehensive tax reform that allows our visitors to contribute to the services they expect while keeping Mainers’ property taxes in line with their ability to pay.
We have to make sure incomes keep pace with the economy and bring workers into the state to fill our job needs at every level. We can do this by providing assistance with tuition that requires residency upon graduation for a certain number of years or else payback of the money. We can become more welcoming to immigrants who are grateful for the opportunity for a safe place to live, work, and raise a family. And we can teach more of our own children about the chance they have to create opportunities by having a vision and the motivation to turn an idea into reality.
We need more clean, renewable, affordable energy. We have an obligation to future generations to reduce pollution to our land, air, and water. We have the technology for local solar generation and offshore wind that can set us free from the bonds of the oil and coal companies. Our own University of Maine has developed the technology to harness some of the greatest wind resources in the world while creating jobs that pay well and can’t be exported to other states or countries.
We also need affordable health insurance and health care. This is a human right and should be available to all. By expanding Medicaid to everyone, we will be able to control the cost of administering the program while reducing the waste of every dollar that goes to obscene insurance and drug company profits.
3. How will you protect the local (municipal) taxpayer as you help shape a state budget?
We have to protect folks by fully funding education at 55% and municipal revenue sharing at 5%. I brought bills to force this to be done and they passed in the last session, but the Appropriations Committee is still withholding part of the funding to make it happen. We must make this a funding priority to relieve the pressure on the communities where property taxes are driving out workers and retirees. I will keep pushing for comprehensive and progressive tax relief that will bring fairness to our taxpayers.
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?
We need to loosen the restrictions on where affordable housing can be located (beyond a few miles of a large grocery store) and make use of existing unused structures. If housing was available in every town, it would help those towns by bringing in folks who want to be a part of strengthening the community. Through tax credits –– funded by more workers living in town rather than commuting –– we need to support businesses that turn properties into affordable housing.
We also have nonprofit organizations that create re-entry and emergency shelters, and they are supported by grants from the state and federal governments along with local contributions. This seems to be a good way to fund these programs.
5. What legislative committees would you like to serve on and why?
As a member of the Marine Resources Committee and the Coastal Caucus, I work to protect our fisheries and support the new technologies that will continue to feed our population. We have to be careful with our fragile ecosystem, because we have found that it takes much effort to keep it in balance with the pressure that our population growth has put on it.
I am also a commissioner on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The 13 Atlantic coastal states meet four times a year to assess and protect our remaining fisheries. Our decisions are enforced by the federal government, and we work hard to understand how changes within each fishery affect others and how best to manage our fisheries as a whole.
I am the Senate Chair of the Citizen Trade Policy Commission. We try to find opportunities to sell Maine products to other countries and bring in the products that Maine people are calling for. This provides opportunities for Maine businesses to compete and succeed in world markets.
And I serve on the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee where I push back against for-profit utilities and promote renewable, clean energy. We can generate all our electricity here in Maine with solar and offshore wind while creating good-paying jobs right here at home.
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 have been in business since starting my first snow plowing route in high school, so I support everyone who wants to start a business. The state has numerous resources beginning with the Department of Economic and Community Development, Finance Authority of Maine, and community service groups with members who will mentor anyone who asks. We need to start in the schools and teach every child to be a leader if that is their path; teach them to question everything and not just pass tests and become followers; teach them to be the entrepreneurs and leaders of the future.
7. What is your vision for affordable health care?
We must achieve universal, single-payer health care. Everyone should be covered, and costs should be controlled. For too long, the insurance and pharmaceutical companies have been bleeding us dry while restricting or denying coverage and making prescription drugs prohibitively expensive. This needs to end. I am glad to work on anything that would put health care dollars into health care costs instead of losing approximately 30% to insurance and drug company profits.
8. Does the State of Maine need to improve its public health system?
We have seen it evolve during the pandemic and I feel like it is getting more responsive as we move forward. The Legislature fully funded the public health nursing positions to be ready for situations such as the one we are in right now. The key will be to keep it ready as we move away from COVID-19.
9. What are the greatest strengths in your district, and how do you hope to support them?
Our greatest strength is the diversity and character of our people. We have varied geography with a wide range of jobs and highly-skilled individuals. Our residents establish programs that lead and teach the world. We have the benefit of families whose roots go back generations and those who were drawn here by the beauty of the place and were welcomed by those who came before. This mix creates a community of support, creativity, and experience that we all draw from. My goal is to make state government supportive of the dreams of the people who live here. When I see that government is in the way, I try to pass laws that change that, and I have been successful toward that end.
10. What are the greatest problems to address in your district, and how do you intend to address them?
Our greatest challenges in Knox County are the same as those facing almost all residents of Maine: fair taxation, renewable energy generation, fair wages, and affordable healthcare. Like much of the state, we also need more workers. This was a challenge before the COVID-19 pandemic, so once the pandemic is behind us, I expect we’ll struggle with a worker shortage again. Every business I visit has been affected by the shortage of labor, and many have been forced to close or reduce their hours. I have talked to our community college and technical high school administrations about developing programs that help businesses and residents across Knox County. Some programs are already underway; for example, businesses provide apprenticeships in schools for real-world training. We also need to keep more graduates of our Maine schools here in Maine by making sure they can succeed here.
11. What is your position on law enforcement reform in the State of Maine?
Law enforcement everywhere has moved more toward the military model of force and punishment over the years. We need to start at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy with a review of all training and make sure new and effective methods are taught and practiced. We need to have effective reviews of all police shootings and excessive force and hold rogue officers responsible for their actions. We are lucky to have several chiefs in Knox County who believe this is necessary for their departments, and we must make sure that when they have job openings, there are candidates who understand community policing. There also needs to be proper funding of mental health and social worker positions so that folks who need a non-law enforcement response can get that as well.
12. What are your thoughts about the state’s response to the pandemic?
We have done a great job of avoiding the “curve” that would have overwhelmed our resources. We learned how to support more vulnerable folks and then began to reopen the economy, allowing those who are healthy to get working. It’s not over yet, but the pandemic will begin to fade and treatments may become available to help those who have the worst symptoms. Our response has evolved and will continue to evolve as we continue to learn about the virus and what works.
13. Do you support construction of the 145-mile Central Maine Power transmission line from Quebec to Massachusetts?
This is the most unnecessary and environmentally destructive project I have heard of in a long time. It is more of the same from CMP: high rates, bad service, and a lack of consideration for anything except their corporate profits. We have the technology to generate power without destroying our fisheries and ecosystems, and this project ignores that and the damage caused by massive dams.
14. Free space! Is there anything else you want voters to know about you or your vision not addressed through this questionnaire?
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your state senator for Knox County over the last six years. I listened to you to find out what was important, and when I went to Augusta, your voice was heard. Because of your input, I have been the prime sponsor of 69 bills, many of which have passed. I have cosponsored hundreds more and worked with my colleagues to get them passed when I knew it would help the people and environment of Knox County. I hope you will give me the chance to finish the work we started. There is much to be done, and with the changes coming to Augusta, we will move Maine forward together.