Media Archive

Incumbents Stanley and Davis compete in Senate District 27

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 43, October 27, 2004

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Due to redistricting, voters in District 27 have a rare opportunity next Tuesday in chosing between two incumbents for to represent them in the Maine Senate.

Paul Davis, the Republican candidate from Sangerville, has served six years in the Maine Senate and is currently the Senate Minority Leader. The Democratic candidate, Stephen Stanley of Medway, has served two years in the Maine Senate and six years in the House of Representatives.

The two candidates raised concerns about property taxes, state spending and the lack of jobs in the district, which spreads from Palmyra to Newport, across, Piscataquis County, over to Millinocket, Mount Chase and Shin Pond, on the border of Aroostook County.

Stephen Stanley

Stanley grew up in East Millinocket and moved to Medway after high school. He worked for 32 years for Great Northern Paper Co. in the finishing department and served his community in various capacities including on the board of selectmen, board of appeals and planning board before running for his first term on the Maine
House of Representatives.

"I have always been involved in municipal government," Stanley said.

He continues to serve on the board of the regional economic development group, MAGIC, the Millinocket Area Growth and Investment Council.

He decided to run for the House of Representatives eight years ago, representing the Millinocket area along with some of eastern Piscataquis County, because "I had always wanted to do it since I was a kid." Two years ago, he ran for an open seat on the Maine Senate, because it seemed to be the next logical step in his public service.

He said the biggest issue he sees facing residents in this region as being economic development.

He said a priority is bring well-paying jobs to the area.

|"Our biggest problem is low wages. It's a problem regionally and statewide," he said.

"If people are not getting liveable wages, they're getting wages elsewhere from the welfare system."

Stanley praised the governor's Pine Tree Zone initiative as a step in the right direction toward attracting businesses that will pay "liveable wages" to employees in this state. He also said the state needs to make higher education more accessible to all Maine residents.

While the state tax system does need reform, he said most residents raise concerns about the property tax, which is paid all in one fell swoop, rather than a little bit at a time like the sales and income taxes. He said the Palesky tax cap referendum will put pressure on the state, if it is passed, to help fund local services.

Stanley said he is worried that if Palesky passes this district may see a drastic reduction in local services, as fewer people will be lobbying for the state's funds.

"There will be a loss of local control," he said, "especially with a shift in the representation from the north and south. There's more representation in the south, and [the money to
pay for local services] will go to the south.

It's a tough issue." Stanley said he would like the state to restructure the way property valuations are assessed. He said the influx of out-of-state buyers who are driving up the cost of property in-state is resulting in an unfair burden on residents who have lived in the same homes for years. He said he is eager to see the results of the OPEGA evaluation. "It should help while looking at all departments to see where we can trim some of the waste," said Stanley.

He said that the Piscataquis County bond for economic development projects will be beneficial in the long run if passed. He said the less than $1 million raised to help fund three projects county-wide will bring in more than $3 million in federal and state funds to the region. "All that extra money will help supply jobs," he said. "It's worth the investment."

Stanley has served as the Chair of the Taxation Committee for the past two years, and also on the Labor Committee.

He lives in Medway with his wife, Lorraine. They have two children and three grandchildren.

Paul Davis

Davis was bom in Dexter and graduated Dexter Regional High School. He holds an associate's degree in legal technology from the University of Maine Bangor campus. He spent almost three decades working in law enforcement as a police officer in Newport, state police officer patrolling Piscataquis County, and chief deputy with the Somerset County Sheriff's Department.

"When you're in law enforcement, you're performing a public service," he said. "I came to love it. I like helping people and using authority to make life a little better for people."

Working as a state senator, also in a position to help people, he said, "is a satisfying experience."

Davis said he has worked to take steps to balance the state budget, and implement tax reform, but being in the minority party makes taking such steps difficult. He said he attempted
to pass bills that would increase the homestead exemption and eliminate any tax on pensions.

He blamed the state Legislature for being "at fault," in not taking any steps to reform the state's tax system. Now, the state is facing a referendum vote that would place a 10 percent tax cap on municipalities, drastically reducing the services that towns and cities will be able to offer their citizens.

He said the year before he went to Augusta, the state was buoyed by a $300 million surplus, but not a penny went towards tax relief.

Instead, the administration raised the gas tax, Davis said.

"We have to balance the state budget without doing injury to the economy," said Davis. "We can't increase taxes. We need tax reform and relief."

He called the Palesky tax cap referendum "a child of frustration," brought about by the state legislature's failure to follow through with any tax reform.

Tax reform, Davis believes, will foster a better economy to attract businesses and jobs to the state.

He said he would like to see a cap put on state spending that only allowed growth at the rate of inflation. He said he proposed such a cap six years ago, when he first came on the senate, but that being in the minority party, it was dismissed. "When you're in the minority, it's hard to do anything meaningful," said Davis.

This past term the Republicans held 17 seats and the Democrats 18 seats.

"The system is broke, but it can be fixed," he said.

He supports the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability or, OPEGA which has been funded to closely evaluate Maine programs for necessity, and recommend cuts.

Davis said he hopes to improve the economy in the state for many reason, but especially to allow his four grand-children to be able to live in "this beautiful state."

Davis lives in Sangerville with his wife, Patricia. They have two children.

If elected to a fourth term, Davis will be term-limited in 2006 and barred from running for re-election.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.