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Meyer, Ammons compete for Maine Houst District 2 seat

By Hadley Barndollar

Posted Oct 6, 2020 at 11:11 AM Originally Posted at Seacoast Online: See Article

ELIOT, Maine — Incumbent Democrat Michele Meyer and Republican Dan Ammons will go head-to-head Nov. 3 for Maine House District 2 seat, which includes Eliot, and parts of Kittery and South Berwick.

Seacoast Media Group sent questionnaires to both candidates.

Michele Meyer

Age: 61

Party: Democrat

Community of residence and number of years residing there: Eliot residents for 27 years.

Education and career/professional experience: Bachelor of science in nursing, Norwich University, Northfield, Vt.

Civic experience/community involvement: State representative, District 2, first term; Member, Joint Standing Committee on Health & Human Services Board of Directors, Baran Place, 41-unit elderly HUD- funded affordable housing complex in Eliot; Eliot Aging in Place Committee, Alternate member; Eliot & South Berwick Rotary, member; Past chairwoman of Eliot Democratic Committee

Summarize in a few sentences your motivation for election to the District 2 seat: When I made the decision to run for my first term in the Maine House, it was because I believed in making a difference and improving the lives of the people around me. As a member of the 129th Legislature, I more fully realized the truly positive impact state government can and has had the last two years on the lives of the people of my district and this state – and how critical it is to have and to provide representation that is compassionate, ethical, responsive, inclusive, and committed to social, racial, and economic justice. The pandemic will continue to present challenges to District 2 and statewide that will require experienced leadership committed to policy-making that values above all, the health and security of all Mainers, who refuses to participate in the politics of division and hatred, and who sees public service as the distinct honor that is it.

List three major challenges/issues you believe are most relevant to Kittery, Eliot and South Berwick, and how you would address those if elected (250 words or less): Until a safe and effective vaccine is available to all, the overarching issue impacting all other aspects of life in District 2 is the public health crisis related to COVID-19. At this writing, York County has 16 documented outbreaks and the stressors on the physical, mental, emotional and economic health of the people of my District and this region are significant. Since adjourning in March amid the unfolding pandemic and pivoting into my communities in crisis, I have continued to work with the Mills administration to ensure my constituents are connected with the information, advocacy, programs, and safety nets put in place to help them cope in a time of uncertainty, fear, and loss. This public health emergency has affected our municipalities including local police and fire departments, and our school districts. While some grant and CARES Act funding has been secured and distributed, additional more flexible federal relief is needed for our local governments to avoid spending cuts that will harm children, families, and seniors and destabilize our communities. I will work with our federal delegation and my legislative colleagues on securing this critical funding. Maine is ranked first in the nation for economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic, returning to 93% of our pre-COVID economy however there is little doubt continued revenue shortfalls and the associated budgetary consequences will be a major challenge for the next Legislature. In the last Legislature, we passed a bipartisan supplemental budget that focused on the state’s most pressing needs and resources to combat the effects of COVID-19 on people and small businesses. When we adjourned a month early, we left behind more than $190 million to meet emergency needs and keep state government functioning. Keeping Mainers healthy in every way possible is my chief objective.

What specific skills would you bring to Augusta as an elected state representative?: As I did in my first term, I bring with me the skills honed in my career as a registered nurse: I am a critical thinker and active listener, able to hear all sides of an issue and articulate my own opinion. I am a part of the community I represent – approachable and responsive. I use an open minded and inclusive approach to building consensus and at the heart of every policy I seek to shape, bill I bring forward, or vote I take is the impact it will have improving lives, providing opportunities for growth, or safeguarding my constituents from hardship. Most importantly, I care deeply about the people I serve and the state I love. There is not a single moment that I am serving in the People’s House in Augusta that I am not grateful for and honored by the opportunity.

How would you “rate” the local and state level responses to COVID-19? If elected, how would you address the public health crisis and its associated fallout?: State and local governments have been on the frontlines of pandemic management, no easy role in light of the dangerously mismanaged response from the Trump administration. One need only to look at our statistics as compared with other states to see we have risen to meet the incredible challenge this virus has presented. Lives have clearly been spared through the steady, intelligent, courageous leadership of Gov. Mills and Dr Nirav Shah of Maine CDC. I would rate the responses of both our state government and the municipalities within my district as very good – generally something to be quite proud of. It is truly a matter of building the plane in midair. Hard decisions have been made, some unpopular, but all necessary to ensure the public health. We have come together and found ways to reopen town halls, many businesses, and our schools and although the way life is conducted is different, it is for the most part, working. I would point out that I have been disappointed in the Maine Department of Labor ’s work in administering unemployment benefits. Far too many have struggled with a system unable to meet the demand. Far too many have suffered job loss, food and housing insecurity, and financial hardship waiting for benefits. As it pertains to Maine unemployment compensation, I would rate this response as poor. A poorly functioning computer system and inadequate staffing coupled with historic need created a perfect storm of incompetence and the new Legislature must address this moving forward. Our job in Augusta is to ensure we are providing our communities, schools, businesses, and citizens with the funds, support, supplies, and assistance they need to safely and fully function-- the tools required to build back better. Many are still suffering. We must also be mindful that coronavirus community transmission continues and we are not yet out of the woods by any means. But we will get there, in time and together.

Use this question to address any pertinent matters about your candidacy that were not addressed above (200 words or less): While management of and attention to the pandemic may be taking precedence over other pressing issues facing our state, we cannot ignore a number of key concerns occurring simultaneously and that will be impacting lives in this district long after a vaccine gives us the upper hand over COVID-19. Climate change and associated sea level rise, institutional racism, a worsening opioid epidemic, food insecurity, a lack of affordable housing, and a serious workforce shortage to name just a few of the pressing issues your state government will address in the upcoming and future legislatures. For the health of our state, the nation, and our planet, I urge voters to make informed, reasoned decisions about your representation at every level of government. Our children and grandchildren are counting on us to get it right. Please, vote.

Dan Ammons

Age: 66

Party: Republican

Community of residence and number of years residing there: Left Eliot to enter the Army in 1973, returned as a full-time resident in 2013.

Education and career/professional experience: U.S. Army 1973-1982, warrant officer, helicopter pilot, served in the 101st Airborne Division; Austin Peay State University, B.Sc. Geology; U.S. Navy 1982-2012, A6 Intruder pilot, USS John F Kennedy, Recalled to active duty in 2003. Seconded to the DIA until retiring in 2012 with rank of captain; Airline pilot 1994-2018 (minus periods of military leaves of absence).

Civic experience/community involvement: My only civic experience is as follows – In 1982-1984 I was elected and served as the director of the kindergarten on Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi. This was a private kindergarten organized and run on the Navy base because Mississippi did not have a state requirement for a kindergarten. I was a student in Navy Jet training at the time and my son attended this school.

Summarize in a few sentences your motivation for election to the District 2 seat: When I retired from the Navy and returned to Eliot, I was sickened to see what the opioid epidemic was doing to our state. I previously had two assignments to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. The majority of that time was spent working in counternarcotic efforts targeting opioid trafficking that was radiating out of Afghanistan and transiting through Pakistan and then melting into the maritime trade routes. To return home and see that the opioid problem here was the result of the pharmaceutical industries’ greed was infuriating. They had succeeded through science and technology to effectively move the poppy fields from Afghanistan into their laboratories and then produce a product that was marketed without regard to the destruction of a generation of young people. This has been a tragedy to many families in Maine to include mine.

List three major challenges/issues you believe are most relevant to Kittery, Eliot and South Berwick, and how you would address those if elected (250 words or less): Traffic on Route 236. We must invest in an efficient arterial road system to move workers efficiently from the interior of the county to the employment centers. Moving thousands of commuters through the center of South Berwick cannot continue. Modernize Route 236 to projected future growth, an investment now will spur economic expansion. Route 236 is currently an economic hindrance and is dangerous. Updated vocational training to include computer sciences and financial training that will serve our future entrepreneurs and job creators. This training must be expanded and made relevant to include business skills training. Being proficient in your chosen profession does not guarantee your success in owning and growing your own business. This training should start at the elementary level and continue in all of our High Schools. Joint partnerships drawing on the experiences of local businesses should be included in this education program. Opioid and drug education from K-12.

What specific skills would you bring to Augusta as an elected state representative?: I spent nearly a decade in the U.S. Navy’s diplomatic and intelligence service, while serving as a Naval Attaché to Argentina and Pakistan. In that capacity I was privileged to work with people of many diverse backgrounds, languages and cultures. Sensitivity to other viewpoints while working towards a common strategy are skills that served me well then and are needed today to find pragmatic solutions that work, so we can quickly recover from this pandemic and return Maine to economic prosperity. This is needed to keep our young citizens in Maine.

How would you “rate” the local and state level responses to COVID-19? If elected, how would you address the ongoing public health crisis and its associated fallout?: No strong measure was taken to protect Maine from the major urban areas that are an hour south of us. More of an effort should have been made to quarantine Maine from personal traveling from Massachusetts which was a pandemic hot spot. Self quarantine is not enough. Kittery and Eliot’s populations are older, and thus highly vulnerable. They must be protected. Coordination between N.H. and Maine must be considered as this area’s economic centers are mainly in N.H. The same situation exists in the health industry as the majority of our medical facilities are located in N.H. A combined effort with New Hampshire and Maine would have been helpful to keep the virus out at the initial stages of the epidemic. Finally, we must have a plan for the next pandemic which could be much more deadly. The state must not waste a moment in reacting, a plan must be available and ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.

Use this question to address any pertinent matters about your candidacy that were not addressed above (200 words or less): Close the Confucius Institute that is currently partnered with the University of Southern Maine immediately. Work on ending rank choice voting. Tackle the root cause of our homeless problem. Make a decision on how we care for those that are incapable of caring for themselves. Living on our streets is unexpectable. Openly using controlled substances is unacceptable. Treat our Native American Tribes as the U.S. Constitution has laid out.

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