The candidates for Maine House District 87 discuss Maine’s income tax and police reform in a forum set to air on Lincoln County Television at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29.
State Rep. Jeff Hanley, R-Pittston, and Tim Marks, D-Pittston, are the candidates. Hanley is seeking a fourth straight term in the district, which is Alna, Pittston, Randolph, and Wiscasset. Marks served one term in the Legislature from 2012-2014.
The forum will be the second of nine to air. The Lincoln County News is hosting the forums in partnership with LCTV. J.W. Oliver, editor of the LCN, is moderating the forums.
Hanley has advocated for the abolition of the state’s income tax, but acknowledges that the state will have to make up the revenue another way, which may not be feasible right now.
“You’d have to raise sales tax from 5% to 7%, and that would be a big bite,” he said. “In these times that we’re looking at right now, I don’t see that as an issue that we can do.”
Marks, a retired state trooper, said he does not support “defunding” the police and believes Maine’s police force is well trained. However, he thinks changes can be made to better serve the community.
“We can shift focus. Somebody who has a mental illness or who’s in crisis, the police shouldn’t necessarily be the first agency that’s called,” he said. “Have a mental health worker, have a crisis worker go first. If the police are needed, absolutely call them, but police shouldn’t be the first ones there.”
He thinks the state should no longer allow part-time police officers to start work before they complete the 18-week basic training at Maine’s police academy.
Hanley said that, to bridge the partisan divide, legislators need to think before they speak.
“We’re all children of God, we’re all human beings,” Hanley said. “We may have disagreements about what color to paint the house, but we can come up with an idea to solve almost any problem. Be civil, be willing to compromise.”
Marks said that when he was in the Legislature, he voted with Republicans more often than other Democrats did. “I’m a gun-loving, Second Amendment-loving, fiscally conservative kind of guy,” he said.
“I don’t need to see the R or the D next to your name. If you call me, I’ll help you,” Marks said.
If he could change one thing about the state’s management of the coronavirus pandemic, Hanley said, he would have restricted Gov. Janet Mills’ emergency powers.
“I think that the Legislature, both the House and Senate, should have had members in the governor’s office making every decision with her,” Hanley said. “That much power in one person’s hands was too much.”
He agreed with the state’s actions at the beginning of the pandemic, but thinks it needs to loosen the current restrictions. “We need to start breathing. We can’t live like this forever,” he said.
The forum will air on LCTV — Channel 7 — and at lctv.org.