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. Gordon Page, Republican, is seeking election 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.
I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and like so many of us who love and live in Maine, I relocated here with my young family at the first opportunity, which in our case came in 1982. My wife Janet and I have been married for 48 years and we have three adult children, all of whom graduated from Rockland District High School and then went on to earn college degrees.
We moved here to continue my career in the frozen seafood industry, which began in 1972. After 10 years working in the industry in Massachusetts, I worked for National Sea Products on Tillson Avenue in Rockland as the Director of Quality Assurance and Product Integrity for eight more years until the plant closed in 1990. At the time of the closure, the families of 204 Midcoast employees were impacted.
Since then, I have worked in senior-level management positions in broadcast media advertising and marketing, hospitality and tourism, and transportation, including eight years as a vice president of the Maine Eastern Railroad. Prior to my retirement in January of this year, the last six years of my career were spent working on economic and community development as the executive director at Rockland Main Street, Inc., the downtown revitalization program in Rockland.
At different times over the past four decades, among other things, I served as president of the Rockland Area Little League; as president of the Rockland Share The Pride Association; as president of the Kiwanis Club of Rockland; and as president of the Rockland/Thomaston Area Chamber of Commerce. I have also served on the boards of the Maine Lighthouse Museum, the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Penobscot Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross. I am a founding member of the Maine Motorcoach Network, and I have been recognized by the Maine Tourism Association with a regional tourism award. I have been honored to be selected as the Kiwanian of The Year, and in 2019, I was recognized as the Community Person of The Year by the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce.
I’ve been a little league baseball and pee-wee softball coach, I served on the South Thomaston Fire Department as a lieutenant and training officer, and I was reelected last month to a three year term on the Owls Head Select Board. I am in my 3rd year as a board member of the Owls Head/South Thomaston/Thomaston Solid Waste Corporation.
And just for fun about eight years ago, I founded UkesROCK!, Rockland’s very own ukulele group.
2. What are the three most pressing issues facing Maine, as a state, today, and how would you like to see them resolved?
There are so many issues facing our residents, taxpayers and business owners, the first of which is the current pandemic, and the resulting impact on the health of individuals and well-being of small businesses. Then, there is the matter of job creation and increasing the number of workers to fill those jobs. Prior to COVID, the unemployment rate was at record low numbers, with not enough people to satisfy the needs of the employers. Right now we are faced with higher unemployment and programs that incent people to stay home. This needs to be addressed in a way that will put people back to work so that businesses can rebound. We need to develop a plan that will welcome willing and capable new people to Maine.
3. How will you protect the local (municipal) taxpayer as you help shape a state budget?
As a member of the select board in Owls Head I have been a proponent of reduced spending at all levels. I will work proactively and in a bipartisan manner to develop or improve the programs necessary to generate income for the state, and to work hard to be sure that the appropriate level of funding through revenue sharing goes back to the towns as intended.
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?
These housing issues are as much a responsibility of local municipalities as they are for the state. There are opportunities that can be explored with owners of land parcels that can be developed into affordable rental units. Tax incentives for these types of developments need to be enhanced at local levels. There are a number of underutilized and vacant buildings throughout the Midcoast region that are a blight on the landscape, that could, with the right types of persuasion and incentives, be converted to shelter and housing.
5. What legislative committees would you like to serve on and why?
As someone who supports our law enforcement community and who has served as a volunteer firefighter, I have an interest in Criminal Justice & Public Safety. Because I have worked in the railroad industry, and because Rockland is a transportation hub with island ferry service, rail, air, and several state roads, I would be interested in Transportation. Marine Resources is another committee that would make sense.
6. Maine’s economy relies on small and micro-businesses. How will you help the entrepreneur succeed in this state, especially given the pandemic?
The pandemic changes everything. So many small businesses operate on very thin margins and even without a national health crisis hanging over our heads, a high percentage of small businesses fail within short periods of time. The PPP Flexibility Act is a wonderful program, but there needs to be a solid vetting process to ensure that money isn’t directed to businesses that either don’t truly need it, or to businesses that were destined to fail before the pandemic hit. During my time in the media advertising industry, and in my work in community and economic development, I worked with hundreds of small businesses. For many reasons, so many of them were ill-prepared to succeed. The key is to replace the failed businesses through recruitment of those that are better suited and more relevant to the times and the locale.
7. What is your vision for affordable health care?
I am in favor of a program that utilizes a multi-tier payment system in which patients and their health care providers make the decisions. I am opposed to Medicare for All.
8. Does the State of Maine need to improve its public health system?
There is not a state program today that wouldn’t benefit from a solid review.
9. What are the greatest strengths in your district, and how do you hope to support them?
Knox County is filled with generous and caring people. Our communities are fortunate to have clubs and organizations that focus on the things that are important. So many of our citizens step forward every day to volunteer to make things better, and to challenge the issues that need to be improved. The people of Knox County are engaged and they are resilient.
10. What are the greatest problems to address in your district, and how do you intend to address them?
Sadly, there are those that suffer from generational poverty, mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse continues to tear families apart, and domestic violence is often a result. We need to take a hard look at the existing programs in Knox County to identify areas of improvement, and to reach out to those who are in the greatest danger.
11. What is your position on law enforcement reform in the State of Maine?
As noted in question #8 above, there is not a state program today that wouldn’t benefit from a solid review. That said, I have been pleased with my discussions with the 12th Senate District municipal and county law enforcement leadership. I have personally met with the three police chiefs (Rockland and Thomaston, as well as the chief who manages both Rockport and Camden), and the sheriff, and I am satisfied that they are doing all the right things to ensure the safety of our citizens.
12. What are your thoughts about the state’s response to the pandemic?
I have commented numerous times that nobody who ran against Janet Mills, including in the primaries, is wishing they were in her shoes right now. Anyone can second guess her decisions, and I choose not to do that. That said, I believe the Governor should have, from the beginning, included the legislature in the process of making those decisions. Our state representatives in both parties are on the ground in districts throughout the state and are the ones talking to citizens and business owners. While Dr. Shah appears to be up to the task, I have been troubled by some of the rest of the administrative team as it relates to communication, working as a cohesive group, and the handling of unemployment and other financial distributions.
13. Do you support construction of the 145-mile Central Maine Power transmission line from Quebec to Massachusetts?
I have no strong opinion on this specific CMP proposal.
14. Free space! Is there anything else you want voters to know about you or your vision not addressed through this questionnaire?
There are 19 municipalities in Senate District 12, including six islands. Every Knox County town is included, except for Washington, which is in Senate District 13. It’s a large area to cover, but over the past several months, and in spite of Covid restrictions, I have been visiting these towns and meeting with folks. With just a few more than 50 days remaining until election day, I will continue to visit around the district and will do my best to meet with anyone who is interested. We deserve better from Augusta. I’m running for State Senate to use the broad perspective I’ve gained throughout my career in both the private and nonprofit sector.
My mission is to find commonsense, bipartisan solutions to the issues facing our communities. I look forward to working on behalf of the residents and taxpayers of Knox County to keep state spending in check, to reduce taxes wherever possible, to enhance the quality of life for our seniors and veterans, and to do what I can to bring back a level of civility in the process.
I humbly ask for your vote on the 3rd of November, or if you prefer, on your absentee ballot. I will be a strong, independent voice, and I will place people and policy above party.