On the issues

Q&A: Maine House District 92 Candidate Justin Thompson

Mon, 09/24/2018 - 10:45am

My Name is Justin Thompson and I’m a fifth Generation lobsterman who lives in Port Clyde. I have lived there my whole life.  I graduated from Georges Valley in Thomaston in 1988, and went on to obtain a criminology degree in Southern Maine as a back-up plan. 

When I got home from college, I worked for Knox County Sheriff’s Department for a number of years.  This helped me to understand that there is a time where we must step up to provide our people with a true representation.  As the candidate who stood side by side with the school withdrawal movement, I’m the one. 

As far as running, I feel compelled, and at some point, we all have to do something.  There is no way that I can sit idly by as this opiate epidemic destroys my district.  Among other things, I’ll be working closely with my dear friend, Tim Carroll, to ensure resources are provided to help keep our kids safe.  I’m also a father to three very independent young ladies. 

 

What are the three most pressing issues facing Maine today, and how would you like to see them resolved?

Education
The value of education throughout America has deteriorated over the years, though here in St. George we have one of the best K-8 Schools in the state.  The answer doesn’t lie with more money. It begins at home, and it’s a cultural process.  The education of our youths is so crucial in our state and country’s success. We must work together to ensure our educators have the needed support, as well as parents, many of whom are working all day, and still trying to teach. 

I’d like to see a program that encourages parents to be more involved, and help. 

Much of this is already being done in my hometown, and there’s no reason to think that it can’t be done elsewhere.  How about looking at creating a St. George Academy?  I think that’s our next logical step, and the competition of such a project would potentially reunite Thomaston and Cushing more, as it once did in the past. We will continue on with success. 

Many younger families are flocking to St. George because of our school, which helps add to both it’s tax base and need for youthful energy.  Local control is key.

The proponents of school consolidation would lead our town to an unsuccessful system, and would have taken our students out of Tenants Harbor, banned withdrawal, and disallowed our current school choice system. I fought them each step of the way, and will do it again.  This is where the choice is the most clear in this race for Maine House District 92.  I’ve always been a proponent of our stand alone school district.  I think that excellent education is at the core of each an every great community. 

 

 Penobscot Bay Pilot has posed questions to each candidate running for District Attorney, Maine Senate and Legislature, providing the opportunity for the public to better understand their position on issues important to the state. The candidates have responded with their individual written answers.

Opiate/drug epidemic
Let's stop wasting valuable resources on prosecuting and jailing non-violent offenders.  We can take these resources, and apply more focus on mental health.  Again, local control is best. 

How can we help our neighbors?  Pay attention to them. Ask them how they’re doing, and sincerely try to lend a hand. 

It shouldn’t be a system that is set up to make someone take Suboxone for the rest of their lives, along with minimal counseling.  If we can fund better psychological treatment that lies at the heart of this problem, then we can get something done.

Also, if a family has one more chance to see their loved one by using Narcan to bring them back, we have no right to deny them that,  any more than taking away someone’s aspirin when they’re having a heart attack. 

Let’s be compassionate, sensible, and caring.  That’s what makes us great as a state, and as a district.  Its time to go back to square one, and I’m ready to attack this problem.  Let’s solve this problem together.

 

Negativity
This Great State of Maine is squabbling more than ever.  I don’t pretend to know how to fix the nasty attitudes around the state, and the constant bickering in Augusta.  However, I know there is a lot to be said about leading by example. Let’s be nice.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. We’re working all year, every day, for low wages.  Maybe you’ve had a hard go of it, and take things out on other people.  Either way, let’s get back to more statesman civility. That’s what I’ll bring to Augusta for you. 

I’m not looking to do anyone’s bidding. I haven’t been a career politician, and I’m not beholden to any special groups.  I’m a man looking to help by getting out of your way, letting you expand as a small business, being there when needed, and always available to help.  In order to make progress, I feel that there is a need to go back to the basics.

 

 

How will you protect the local (municipal) taxpayer as you help shape a state budget?

I will not be trying to stick it to anyone.  I don’t have to like taxation.  I believe that the best functioning government will largely do what’s best for the whole State, and not individual districts.  We need to have a very close look at the Essential Programs and Services formula that the state uses to fund education.  I think this is a far cry form what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he wrote the Article of our State Constitution.  He knew back then how important local control was. Let’s start there.  

 

Scientists have reported that the Gulf of Maine is warming. (Gulf of Maine experiences marine heat wave, scientists say: penbaypilot.com/article/gulf-maine-experiences-marine-heat-wave-scientists-say/106929) and Senators Collins, and King push for research into warming of Gulf of Maine: penbaypilot.com/article/senators-collins-king-push-research-warming-gulf-maine/101228.

It’s impossible to look anyone square in the eye and say it isn’t warmer than when I was a kid.  In fact, my shoulder feels the higher tides a little more each day, and many of us have had to adjust.  No one gets a blank check from me, and there’s no doubt that we can take some more steps to help reduce our own carbon footprint on the world.  That being said, let’s look no further than St. George, who recycles more trash per person than any other town in the State.  Again, the problems are best addressed locally, and using the pulpit of Augusta can help.  I’m ready to work together with all parties and sides to do what we can to help make this world a better place.

 

How will you work to ensure that Maine’s fisheries are vital and productive, and that the habitat and marine life are protected?

Marine life is so crucial to our success as a state.  I know this firsthand,  as I am on that water near daily.  We should have a long hard look at what we’re doing now. What is right, and what is wrong?  Over the past few years, I’ve seen a major reduction in trash in the water.  Again, this is all education.  Why would we want to hurt our fishing by polluting?  Let’s have a real hard look at what we’re doing at the state level. Let’s increase efforts as needed, and continue to encourage locals to provide input.  For the first time in a long time, poggies, a fantastic fish for bait, are back greater than ever.  Why?  Maybe it’s because we’ve allowed them to grow on our own, not by some bureaucratic dictation.    

 

What are your positions on energy policies, and use of renewable energy (solar, wind, tidal turbine)? Should the state of Maine encourage renewables with tax and policy development?

I think much of these programs were taken advantage of in a negative way.  I’m all for getting off the dependency of fossil fuels, but I do not approve of the idea that we place two offshore wind turbines, the size of the National Monument, off Monhegan Island.  The idea seems great, but the reality is that the power wouldn’t come to us, and it would ruin sacred fishing grounds. It could destroy the largest economy in the state of Maine, for an experiment.  If we are to do this again, it should start with the locals. What works best for you?  How can we, as District 92, help with this?  How can Knox County help?  St. George has solar panels on its transfer station.  This seems to work well.  We should continue to encourage development of this necessary work, but be much more mindful of the impacts on the locals.  Ask us, the locals first.  That is me. I’m a local.  That’s who you’d be represented by.  I’ll always do my best. 

 

How do you want to see Maine laws governing the commercial growth and sale of marijuana to evolve?

I see these laws as convoluted, and difficult for many to understand.  I see a creation of an unseeded layer of bureaucracy with much of it, and know it’s about time that we stop trying to expend valuable efforts and resources to attack a problem that isn’t there.  Cannabis has uncanny healing properties, that aren’t engineered in a factory.  Why do we deny our people this medicine for their dying loved ones, or those with depression, lyme, PTSD, and other illnesses?  There is no good answer.  We have a medical marijuana system in place now that is strict, stringent, and works.  Largely, because it was started by the locals.  Its time to get real, and embrace 2018.  Let’s work together to find solutions from the ground up, and stop the heavy handed arm of the government in Augusta from letting us grow.      

 

What issues are emerging from your conversations with the public as you go about your campaign, and what solutions do you envision?

Many people say, I can’t vote for you. You’re a Republican.  Then they realize that I’m Justin Thompson, and while I believe in limited government principles, my socially liberal/Fiscal conservative view is closer to what they want. 

The way to solve the perception problem is with education. Not all Democrats or Republicans are bad.  In this split world of constant stimulation, we must remember that we are individuals before party members, and folks, if you haven’t met me, I hope you do. I’m no cookie cutter Politician.  In fact, I’m hardly one at all.  I just want to do my best to represent you, whether you’re Republican, Democrat, or other.  We need to work together, and House District 92 is a great place to start.

 

Voters approved expansion of Medicaid. How do you want to see that implemented and funded?

I see it as being a process.  It’s going to need to stop being a political football, when it comes to this issue.  Please, let’s stop playing politics with our neediest citizens.  We’re going to need to learn from past funding mistakes, and ask ourselves how to best take care of this.  The squabbling needs to stop, and again, I’m not going there with an agenda to strip people of benefits. I’m headed to Augusta to represent the needs and wants of my people.  I’ll not be going to give anyone a free pass, and surely we can do better.  Let’s stop fighting, and do what we’ve been asked to, no matter how hard. 

 

What is your position on the proposed 145-mile Central Maine Power transmission line that the company hopes to build from Quebec, through Beattie Township, and the expansion of 92 miles of existing corridor to Lewiston, and another 26.5 miles from Windsor to Wiscasset?

My questions would be: What are the pros and cons?  Does this help Massachusetts, or Maine?  Would CMP actually stunt other energy development by doing this?  What authority will I have as your Representative from House District 92?  Will they settle the billing fiasco that has affected thousands, before making another move on this? 

There are no blank checks from me. I’m headed there for us, not them.  Let’s have a look a deeper look at this one, and see where to go after that.

 

Two young Maine children were killed under horrific circumstances in 2017. How would you improve the caliber of DHHS, specifically child protective services? 

That was a terrible tragedy.  Certainly it was one that has brought many issues to light.  In short, I would increase training, and ask the specialists in the trenches for advice. I’d try to gain input from the workers about what their needs are, and how we can help.  There is no silver bullet, but locally we can do this together.  I’ll listen, watch, observe, and act as I see appropriate. But again, only after proper input.  

 

What committees would you like to serve on and why?

Marine Resources. I fish my grandfather’s buoy color from five generations ago. I’m on the water all the time, and am constantly around the fishery business.  There is no one better served to represent the fisherman in this race than I, and  I’ll humbly serve.

Education and Cultural Affairs. I married one of the best school teachers in the world. If anyone knows education, it’s her, a veteran of teaching for nearly thirty years.  Also, as a man of deep philosophical convictions when it comes to the education of our youth, I’m all in. We know what works, and what doesn’t.  The school consolidation law from 2007 was a disaster that alienated so many along the way.  We must learn from our mistakes, do what was promised under the Sinclair Act of 1957, and step it up.  It will not be easy. The State is supposed to fund 55 percent of education.  If that is the case, we had better take a look at what The Department of Education is doing, how much of it is needed.  Do we need to continue to work within a system that runs our Educators through a gambit of red-tape?  Its time to focus on the kids.

Criminal Justice and Public Safety. Given my experience, education, connections to the community, and unwavering commitment to safety for our most vulnerable, I think that this would be a fine fit.  We need real representation there.  I’ll always do my very best.

 

Maine’s economy relies on small and micro-businesses. How will you help the entrepreneur succeed in this state?

So much of this is getting out of the way, letting those small businesses be. Let them grow, and let’s encourage, rather the penalize.  Let’s help, instead of hinder.  Its time to cut that red-tape that keeps people from wanting to start a business.  I’d like to see more encouragement for our youth to learn more.  School to business careers are fewer each day, and if we’re going to do this right, we had better progress with mindfulness to our future.  Let’s be understanding, and friendly to good business, and help them by letting them grow.

 

Does Maine have enough mental health care resources? If not, what needs to improve and how?

No, we don’t have the mental health resources needed.  I can think of a story of a man I know.  He wanted to get help, and stop using drugs.  He went to the local hospital, and it took him three days to get a bed in the Psychiatric Addiction and Recovery in Rockport.  In the meantime, he was locked in his Emergency Care Unit Room, and monitored like a prisoner 24/7.  By the time he got the help needed, it was too late.  He had become so deeply depressed and dismayed, that he largely refused to work. “The moment,” was gone.  If you, or a loved one has suffered from depression, or addiction, you realize that there is a necessity to strike while the iron is hot.  If someone asks for help, we need to be there. As a State, and as a people.  All hands are on deck.  

 

What is your vision for affordable health care?

I envision a competitive marketplace, that isn’t overburdened with nonsense, and a company that doesn’t put us on hold for half a day to fix a bill.  We can do better as locals.  In my hometown of St. George we have a great program to help seniors. This is the sort of thing that many towns can benefit from as well.

 

Maine has built up a fiscal surplus. How should it be used?

It should be used wisely, thoughtfully, and as needed using the priorities I’ve listed.

 

What are your positions on the following November ballot questions?

Question 1: “Do you want to create the Universal Home Care Program to provide home-based assistance to people with disabilities and senior citizens, regardless of income, funded by a new 3.8% tax on individuals and families with Maine wage and adjusted gross income above the amount subject to Social Security taxes, which is $128,400 in 2018?”

NO

 

Question 2: “Do you favor a $30,000,000 bond issue to improve water quality, support the planning and construction of wastewater treatment facilities and assist homeowners whose homes are served by substandard or malfunctioning wastewater treatment systems?”

NO

 

Question 3: “Do you favor a $106,000,000 bond issue, including $101,000,000 for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities and equipment related to ports, piers, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails, to be used to match an estimated $137,000,000 in federal and other funds, and $5,000,000 for the upgrade of municipal culverts at stream crossings?”

NO

 

Question 4: “Do you favor a $49,000,000 bond issue to be matched by at least $49,000,000 in private and public funds to modernize and improve the facilities and infrastructure of Maine's public universities in order to expand workforce development capacity and to attract and retain students to strengthen Maine's economy and future workforce?”

NO

 

Question 5: “Do you favor a $15,000,000 bond issue to improve educational programs by upgrading facilities at all 7 of Maine's community colleges in order to provide Maine people with access to high-skill, low-cost technical and career education?”

NO

 

There are no Blank Checks from me.  Too much goes out the window with these bonds, and we rarely see the outcome as positive. I favor helping, by returning control to the localities.  Let’s be real. It’s easy to check yes on money for this, that and the other. It’s more difficult to see the bigger picture, of where the money comes from, who benefits, and how it’s distributed.  That’s the big picture.

 

Please feel free to expand or add any thoughts here that we have not touched upon.

I’d like to thank Lynda Clancy and the Staff of The Pen Bay Pilot for providing me with an opportunity to answer pertinent questions to those within House District 92.  I’m definitely not political, folks. I’ve always paid attention, I always vote, and I will work my tail off for you.   Sometimes I speak with a Port Clyde Drawl, and I’m not the type to wear a tie, or invest in oil stocks, but maybe it’s time we try that for a change.  I’m a man that’s ready to take on this challenge of keeping our State one of the greatest in the Nation, and helping to heal the wounds of partisan divisiveness.  My name is Justin Thompson, and I would sincerely appreciate your vote.