Media Archive

Murrel Harris ready to jump into political game

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 44, October 30, 2002

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

District #139
Milo's longtime recreation director running for House seat representing towns in Piscataquis and Penobscot counties

MILO Murrel Harris, for the past 23 years, has worked as recreation director for the town of Milo.

He doesn't see that being too far off from his bid for the State House.

Both jobs, he said, require an ability to work with people, and an ability to stay within a budget. 'I'm not really a politician," Harris said. "But I know if I am elected I could do a good job for the entire district."

District 139 encompasses Milo, Medway. East Millinocket, Woodville, Chester, Maxfield, Medford, Lake View Plantation and Seboeis Plantation and part of Lincoln. It stretches from Piscataquis to Penobscot counties. And, Harris said, for the past decade or so, the district has been represented by a resident from Penobscot County.

Harris, a Milo native, attended Husson College in Bangor and graduated from the U.S. Army Veterinary School. He was stationed in Okinawa from 1967 to 1969. He worked at B&A Railroad, and later served as an x-ray technician at Milo Community Hospital in the 1970s.

In addition to working as recreation director in Milo, he is facilities manager of the town's buildings, and works as a dispatcher and member of the Milo Fire Department. He served on the SAD 41 school board from 1999 to 2001 and is a charter member of the Three Rivers Kiwanis.

As this is his first attempt at an election, Harris admitted to having a lot to leam. He said his advantage is an ability to listen to what people have to say. He is running as a Republican candidate.

Taxes, of course, are a major concern, he said.

"I'm not delusional enough to say I can change [the tax situation] but I can work for change," he said. "Anyone can lay out a plan, but you shouldn't unless you're going to deliver."

He said he does not understand how the state could allow the $240 million shortfall, and he is not in favor of raising taxes.

As part of addressing the decline in the economy, Harris said, towns need to set aside differences and work on regional efforts, particularly where education is concerned. However, he does not agree with the state's push toward regionalization of education, or else the state will not fund new facilities.

"Everything has to be looked at, but we can't drag people kicking and screaming," Harris said. "We have some hard decisions locally."

Harris said the state needs to do a better job on economic development efforts, particularly in his district, where the property tax rates are rising, residents are leaving and jobs are disappearing.

"There has to be some way people can get together to get to the root of the problem," said Harris.

He said the state needs to "pay its fair share" of education costs, which it promised at 55 percent but rarely delivers beyond 40 percent, and not leave the local towns to shoulder the difference. He added he would rather see schools have adequate textbooks, rather than laptops.

He said he would not be opposed to exploring the idea of casino in the state, because he doesn't see any difference between that form of gambling and the state-sanctioned lottery and harness racing.

Harris also supports a single-payer health care system or socialized medicine, if it would save money and provide adequate healthcare coverage to residents.

He is married to Laurel Ellison Harris. Together, they have six children and four grandchildren.

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