A Boothbay Harbor businesswoman, school board member, and second-time candidate for the Maine House of Representatives hopes to bring a pro-business perspective to the Legislature.
Stephanie Hawke is the Republican candidate for the new House District 89. The district includes Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Edgecomb, part of South Bristol, Southport, and Westport Island.
“I’m passionate about business,” Hawke said. “I’m passionate about keeping business in Maine. I’m passionate about keeping kids – since I have three kids – I’d love to have them stay in Maine. I’m passionate about people, tourism, so that’s why I’m running.”
Hawke, 48, owns the Boothbay Harbor car dealership and repair shop Hawke Motors Inc. with her husband, Andy Hawke. Stephanie Hawke primarily runs the business while Andy Hawke works as a lobsterman.
The Hawkes were partners in the Boothbay Harbor service station Good ‘N You before opening Hawke Motors around 2006.
Stephanie Hawke also waits tables at McSeagull’s Restaurant in Boothbay Harbor at night during the season. “I’ve always been in the restaurant business,” she said. She sticks with it “to keep my hands in it and get my daughter through school.”
Hawke sits on the board of the Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Consolidated School District.
She frequently volunteers to assist with community and school events, most recently with the Windjammer Days parade and Boothbay Region High School’s Project Graduation.
The 2014 race is Hawke’s second attempt to represent the region in the Maine House of Representatives.
She challenged popular three-term incumbent W. Bruce MacDonald, D-Boothbay, in 2012. Hawke collected almost 45 percent of the vote – the best performance by a Republican in any of MacDonald’s four races – in a generally weak year for Republicans.
This time, Hawke faces Edgecomb independent William H. “Bill” Coombs. The Democrats did not field a candidate, although Coombs would caucus with Democrats.
Hawke describes herself as a conservative when it comes to business, while more moderate on social matters. “I’m up with the times,” she said. “I just think a lot of the stuff that’s in government doesn’t need to be in government.”
“I think business creates business,” Hawke said.
Hawke Motors has many customers who work at businesses like Hodgdon Yachts Inc. and Washburn & Doughty Associates Inc., as well as major nonprofit employers like Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Inc.
“All these big employers are bringing people to live here, and it’s helped our business,” Hawke said.
Hawke Motors bought two wreckers this year. “Now, with the tow trucks, that employs two more people,” Hawke said.
New business also helps spread out the property tax burden. “In order to keep (property taxes) from going up, you need to put more money in the pot, and that’s businesses and residents,” Hawke said.
Hawke supports welfare reform and opposes a hike in the minimum wage.
Hawke says she sees welfare recipients leave the Irving station next to Hawke Motors with cases of beer and notes their purchases of luxury items across the street at Hannaford Supermarket.
“I mean, mussels and shrimp and lobsters and steak; and then you have the guy who’s just worked 90 hours and he has peanut butter and jelly, so I think there are a lot of people taking advantage of it,” Hawke said.
Meanwhile, jobs are available on the peninsula, especially during the season.
“It may not be your ideal job, but McSeagull’s was short all summer,” Hawke said. “All the restaurants were short.”
Hawke Motors recently had an opening for a year-round position with benefits, no experience necessary. “It’s not a bad job,” Hawke said, yet the business advertised for six months before filling the position.
Hawke also believes many people who genuinely need help do not receive adequate help, such as the elderly and young parents who need child care assistance in order to go to work.
“There are a lot of people who really need it who aren’t getting it,” she said.
Hawke believes an increase in Maine’s minimum wage, currently $7.50 per hour, would make it difficult for high school students and people with disabilities to find work.
If the state forces businesses to pay a minimum wage of $10 or $12 per hour, many businesses will opt to hire employees with more experience, she said.
Most employees who work hard earn more than minimum wage, she said.
“Now, if you were working at a job for 10 years and you’re still getting $7.50 an hour, either you have to spruce up your work ethic, or maybe find another job, or talk to the boss, or something,” Hawke said.
Hawke called the closure of St. Andrews Hospital “devastating,” but said she does not know what anyone can do about it.
The Boothbay region has a large elderly population. “When people move into this town, they say, if they’re younger, ‘How are the schools?’ and if they’re older, ‘Where’s the hospital?'” Hawke said. “Those are the two magical questions.”
As a lawmaker, Hawke would work to support the working waterfront, invest in education and career training, demand government accountability and transparency, and lower taxes by eliminating wasteful spending, according to her campaign literature.
“I believe my life experiences as a small-business owner, a fisherman’s wife, and a mother give me a unique perspective and better understanding of the issues and challenges facing coastal Maine citizens,” she said in a campaign handout.
The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Political Action Committee awarded Hawke a grade of A and endorsed her candidacy.
Hawke and her husband have three children: Nicholas, 25, a lobsterman; Lelia, 21, a student at the University of Southern Maine; and Andrew, 17, a lobsterman, senior at Boothbay Region High School, and student in a work-study program at Boothbay Region Boatyard.
Hawke’s seven-day-a-week work schedule during the summer leaves little time for outside pursuits. She likes to relax at the family camp in Stratton during the offseason.