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As part of the ongoing Election 2012 coverage, Penobscot Bay Press is publishing excerpts from a questionnaire sent to candidates in local Maine House and Senate races.
In the wide-open Maine Senate District 31 race, Democrat Emery Deabay of Bucksport and Republican Edward Youngblood of Brewer are battling for the seat of Republican Richard Rosen, who is stepping down because of term limits.
Deabay has worked at the Verso Paper mill in Bucksport for 37 years. Youngblood is a former state senator from 2001-2004, and retired senior vice president at Bangor Savings Bank where he worked for 30 years.
What should education look like in the state of Maine moving forward? What specific changes, if any, need to be made to the way education is structured or funded?
Emery Deabay: I believe education decisions belong to the communities that have to decide what is best for their children. When communities put together their budgets they need to know what to plan on from the state and locally. Towns need to know that money meant for their schools will not be sent across the state. This would create instability in the education system and the local tax structure; it would be unfair to our children and could lead to a system where money and influence will have more to do with a child’s education than where they grow up. We need to work to create a public education system throughout our state that is fair and equal for all of our children.
Edward Youngblood: Secondary education needs to provide more choices in technological education that gives students a skill that allows them to become members of our skilled workforce. An increase in school choice is needed when programs of any type are not available or are inadequate. Student betterment must be the prime driver. The recent school consolidation efforts were over sold as a big money saver. Now we need to figure out how to make it work. This will take time but it should allow for more effective and better qualified administration, increased and better programing for our youth, increased cooperation between communities, reduced cost of operations, and some level of savings.
Maine’s unemployment rate remains over 7.5 percent. If elected, what would you do to encourage economic growth, particularly for small businesses?
Emery Deabay: Job growth in Maine has to come from small business. We need to work toward the creation of a larger skilled workforce, insure that government (local, state and federal) have a “what can I do for you to help make your business grow” attitude and then get out of the way.
Edward Youngblood: We need to make sure we support the jobs we have. The University of Maine works with paper companies to try and develop new products. We need cooperation like this statewide.
We need to allow the bonds that have already been approved by the people of Maine to go through and put people to work repairing and improving our infrastructure so that products that are made in Maine can be transported out. We need to work with the railroads to try and reduce transportation cost to ship the products manufactured in Maine.