Q&A: Maine House District 96 Candidate Stanley Paige Zeigler

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 9:15pm

Stanley Paige Zeigler, D-Montville: My father was a pilot when I was young and my mother was a homemaker. When health issues forced my Dad out of the sky he had a carpentry crew and built homes, but my siblings and I still remember the planes in the barn. In my early teens I helped him moving shingles to the roofs and moving “two bys” around my his work sites. I also mowed lawns. The summer of my high school senior year and my college freshman summer, I worked in a factory. After that I worked on road crew laying black top during the summers until I got a job as an apprentice mechanic at a car dealership. My college senior year I took independent studies, so I was pulling engines by day and pulling all nighters to catch up with my studies. After graduation, my jobs included Ambulance Attendant in Hancock County, a logger for Georgia Pacific in Washington County and work as a cedar rat (cutting cedar trees) in Washington State.  I also was a night drug rehab counselor, and resident director at a Community College, both in southern Maine, and a teacher in Skowhegan.  But I was restless and started to jump on ships, starting as a deck hand and eventually ending up as Unlimited Master (Captain) of all Oceans. It was fun and interesting. That is the part of my life that allowed me to build my house, send my daughter to college and marry the woman I love. Upon retirement I wanted to give back to the community that had supported me. I was elected to the RSU 3 School Board, which I now chair, and the area recycling board in Unity. When the legislative seat became open, I ran because I saw a need for a forward thinking energy plan. I sometimes wonder if I actually retired.

What are the three most pressing issues facing Maine today, and how would you like to see them resolved?
A. We need a comprehensive energy policy that protects our natural resources and lowers our electricity bills. We can do that by looking at recent Public Utilities Commission decisions, addressing electrical grid issues and to support renewable energy sources. 

B. We need to address health care costs. We can look at assisting      people going into the medical field with educational costs, negotiate pharmaceutical costs, provide transparency with procedural costs and help with stabilizing insurance costs.

C. We need to reduce property taxes while maintaining a good educational system. This can be done by fully funding the 55% for education, increasing revenue sharing to 5% and helping with local road construction.

How will you protect the local (municipal) taxpayer as you help shape a state budget?
We will protect the local taxpayer by finding a revenue source to fund education at the 55% level, increase the Homestead Exemption by 50%, restore state funding that municipalities use for road repair and police and fire protection.

Scientists have reported that the Gulf of Maine is warming (Gulf of Maine experiences marine heat wave, scientists say and Senators Collins, King push for research into warming of Gulf of Maine.)

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

I am a member of the Coastal Caucus in the Maine House.  We have been looking at the warming of the Gulf of Maine and the migration of the fisheries. One way is to prevent micro plastics from entering the water system. When fish ingest these micro plastics, it lowers their reproductive rates. Also, while lowering carbon output may not stop warming, it could slow it down, giving us time to figure out strategy. 

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?
Our state is lagging behind the country in developing affordable renewable energy sources. We have missed opportunities during the last decade to use Maine’s available bountiful sources. There is enough solar and more than enough offshore wind to make us independent in the production of electricity.  We can then use that electricity to heat and cool our homes, as we turn to more efficient heat pumps. I support policies that move us in that direction. Fossil fuels are subsidized so it is not a matter of “winners and losers”, it is a matter of energy policies that will help our state. I have been working on a bill that will make low cost loans available to assist regular working Mainers to own their source of electrical power.

How do you want to see Maine laws governing the commercial growth and sale of marijuana to evolve?
Rules regulating recreational marijuana need to be completed and put into statue to eliminate the black market. Our youth also need protection. At the same time, an infrastructure needs to be built so that adults wanting to purchase marijuana can. Similarly to alcohol, communities should have local control over where purchases can be made. We also have to determine who is driving under the influence. Currently, there is no effective drug test, however since the national increase in marijuana legalization, there has been a search for a test that protects both the individual and the community.

What issues are emerging from your conversations with the public as you go about your campaign, and what solutions do you envision?
There are several issues that are often repeated as I knock on doors.  Property taxes are on all of our minds.  How should we freeze or reduce them? The first way is to increase revenue sharing to 5 percent from the present 2 percent. The second way is to fully fund education at 55 percent by finding a secure source of revenue.  

Another issue is the high cost of medical services and insurance. On the state level we could look at the fact that the same medical procedure may vary in cost from one provider to another. It should be apparent when you go in for a procedure what it will cost. 

People do want the legislature to work in a bipartisan manner in order to deal with the issues in our state that affect them.

Voters approved expansion of Medicaid. How do you want to see that implemented and funded?
I would like to see Medicaid expansion implemented as stated in the referendums that were passed.  There is already enough funding to provide for Medicaid expansion to last until the summer of 2019. At that point, future sources of funding will be placed in the next budget. The money is there, so lets move on this!

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?
I sat on a committee reviewing the DEP permits for the transmission line. I asked about where CMP was going to off ramp any power to Maine communities. CMP had no intentions to do that. I also asked if Massachusetts decided not to fulfill the contract, would the Maine ratepayer end up being charged for the line? There was no answer from CMP. There are some tax benefits to western communities, but is it worth the risk?

Two young Maine children were killed under horrific circumstances in 2017. How would you improve the caliber of DHHS, specifically child protective services?
The Department of Health and Human Services has had budget reductions causing caseworkers to be removed from cases during the last decade. The legislature can fully fund the department and make sure the executive branch nominates an effective director who can raise the morale of the department. 

What committees would you like to serve on and why?
Presently I serve on Environment and Natural Resources and would like to continue on that committee. I feel that Maine is unique with its great water quality and natural resources.  We need to protect them for our future generations. If I need to change my committee assignment, I would like to be on the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee to develop a comprehensive energy program or the Taxation Committee to deal with fair and equable tax structure.

Maine’s economy relies on small and micro-businesses. How will you help the entrepreneur succeed in this state?
Regulations can be onerous on small business. For example, with the increasing small tasting rooms for breweries. The regulations haven’t evolved as the business has. At times the antiquated regulations hamstring the business. We should train our regulators to look for ways to help our businesses while protecting the public. The legislature and state agencies need to work together to work for business and the public. 

Does Maine have enough mental health care resources? If not, what needs to improve and how?
Maine doesn’t have enough mental health providers. Funding shortages are one problem. In rural communities, transportation to mental health care providers is another. There was a bill introduced to return mental health clinics in proximity with schools. It did not pass but it was a start to provide help to provide mental health services where needed. Regardless of the availability of help, the stigma needs to be taken away from people who have mental health issues. 

What is your vision for affordable health care?
As I have mentioned before, we need to have standard prices for procedures. The price of the procedure may include the cost of not only the procedure, but administrative costs that have nothing to do with the actual procedure. We need more transparency! Also, Maine needs to negotiate pharmaceutical prices in an effort to lower costs for the consumers. Another way we can stabilize costs is to encourage preventive care to reduce the likelihood of costly medical procedures down the road. To lower insurance costs we need to develop a large pool of the insured and streamline insurance by developing a single payer plan.

 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.

Maine has built up a fiscal surplus. How should it be used?
We are in the process of bonding for our infrastructure. Instead of paying interest on bonds, in some instances we should use the surplus to repair and increase the infrastructure in case we don’t have future surpluses. We need good roads, great internet and clean water. We can use some of the money to expand the mental health services of our state and to help combat the opioid issue. If after addressing the most pressing issues we still have a surplus, then we should give tax breaks to the middle class.

What are your positions on the following November ballot questions?

1. Like most referendums, this needs additional work. Regardless of passing or failing, it addresses an issue we’ve been ignoring. Maine’s population is the oldest in the nation and there will be an ongoing need to find workers to assist our elderly. Even if all of our children would stay in the state, we still wouldn’t have enough workers to fill these positions. In order to make these fields attractive, they must be paid a living wage. The wording of the referendum is confusing regarding couples collectively earning  $128,400 and being taxed at the single rate. If passed, the legislature would address this to ensure that they were not overtaxed. The median income for Maine is $53,000 and when you have to assist either a child or parent in need, you find it hard to make ends meet.

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?"

I support the bond

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?”

I support the bond

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?”

I support the bond

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?”
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?”

I support the bond