as seen on SeacoastOnline.com
By Hadley Barndollar
Posted Oct 28, 2018 at 5:45 PM
Updated Oct 28, 2018 at 5:45 PM
Two staunchly different candidates vie for Maine House District 2 seat that represents Eliot, part of Kittery and part of South Berwick.
Republican Dan Ammons, 64, of Eliot, is an airline pilot and retired Navy captain. His opponent, Democrat Michele Meyer, 59, is a registered nurse who operates a small organic farm.
It is Ammons’ first time entering the political and civic sphere, while Meyer is the former chairwoman of the Eliot Democratic Committee. At a candidates forum at Kittery Town Hall Wednesday, Meyer was in attendance, while Ammons was not.
On the subject of retail marijuana, the candidates diverge into two very different directions. Ammons said he “absolutely hates the thought of legalized marijuana in Maine.”
“I will never support retail sales of marijuana especially while it is classified as a schedule 1 drug,” he said. “If it is sold in a retail setting, I will support a punitive sales tax.”
Meyer said towns need to undertake a proactive approach to local zoning and restrictions to determine how many retail locations may be permitted, to provide clarity and direction to communities. “With further delays, our region risks losing a competitive advantage in this emerging industry,” she said, “and the tax revenue other states are putting to good use for education, infrastructure and affordable housing.”
To combat the opioid crisis, Ammons said a joint interagency task force should be established to coordinate anti-narcotic efforts. “It should include representatives from state education, health services and law enforcement,” he said. “Primary emphasis must be in prevention. An anti-narcotic message must be taught throughout a student’s tenure at school. If necessary, this should include at-risk families.”
Ammon said law enforcement must also work with the federal government and neighboring states to place maximum pressure on traffickers.
“The downward trend in opioid prescription by Maine health care providers is promising as we work toward the eventual alleviation of this public health crisis,” Meyer said. “However, our state is not adequately addressing the needs of those who turned to illicit drugs following addiction to prescribed narcotics. Tens of thousands of addicts do not have access to treatment due to a statewide lack of detox and substance-use disorder beds, comprehensive outpatient care, and/or a lack of insurance.”
Meyer pointed to a successful treatment model in Vermont that can be replicated in Maine. “Guiding our efforts should be an acceptance of the science of addiction and compassion for those affected,” she said.
When asked about Medicaid expansion, Ammons said, “If the courts say the state must expand Medicaid, then so be it. However, I will not add any new taxes to burden the citizens of Maine. Other programs must be adjusted to service this expansion.”
Meyers said, “More than 70,000 Mainers await coverage and entry into the health care system under voter approved Medicaid expansion. The majority are hardworking people who cannot otherwise afford health coverage or work for employers who do not offer this benefit: individuals and families who avoid costly preventative care, treatment, or testing due to an inability to self pay. Expansion is not a ‘hand out’ but rather a hand up, helping low-income Mainers to remain in or enter the workforce with access to the care they and their families need to remain healthy and productive.”
An aquaculture proposal to expand farming operations on Spinney Creek has started a local conversation about what control municipalities should have over aquaculture, as the decision currently lie with the Department of Marine Resources.
“I believe that the Department of Marine Resources should have hearings and listen to the stakeholders before rendering any decisions,” Ammons said. “The Maine Department of Marine Resources must be the final arbitrator.”
Meyer said municipalities should be routinely consulted and invited by the DMR to particular throughout the entire process. “Community concerns for the impact that new or expanding operations may present locally are best addressed when information is publicly available at an early stage and where relevant stakeholders, municipal leaders, and the public are communicating and collaborating from the beginning,” she said.