Readers weigh in on favorite candidates for state office

13 years ago

Libby Mitchell understands education

To the editor:

I recently listened to two dismal comments on Maine’s education issue from Paul LePage. In one he seems to advocate importing Asian students to raise Maine’s standardized math test scores. I am not quite clear as what disturbed me more: the racial stereotype or his assumption that the people of Maine are so unintelligent that we have to import brains.

The other was even more disturbing: beating the drum to close schools like the University of Maine campuses in Presque Isle, Fort Kent and Machias. That was quite a statement made on Channel X Radio July 15. From the interview it was clear that Paul LePage does not know the difference between a trade school, a community college, or a university. He also seems unable to distinguish the difference between a small private college and a public college or university either. This lack of understanding clearly disqualifies him to contribute to Maine’s education issues.

Eliot Cutler, though far more articulate, also seems to advocate the closing of our campuses or reducing our important rural campuses in to mere feeder schools for the Orono campus of the University of Maine system. He indicated this in a interview this spring, where he stated, “We simply can’t afford for every campus to operate in its own silo.” He also seems to indicate combining the University and Community College systems into a massive centralized mega-system.

Both candidates seem unaware of the importance of regional campuses to our local Maine populations that are place bound and separated by long distances from the Orono campus, the large numbers of jobs they add to our local Maine regions, and the number of graduates they produce. Cutler in particular makes the assumption that higher education in Maine is a static institution that rarely if ever reflects on its role in the state, reforms itself, or considers the needs of its graduates.

Nothing is further from the truth. Both the faculty and administration have gone through painful program cuts, retrenchment of tenured faculty (the academic term for layoffs), exhaustive programs reviews, collaboration between campuses and made remarkable innovations (such as the rapid implementation of on line courses). Programs with few graduates have already been cut unless they are a critical part of the regional school’s mission, a new developing program or an important part of the local economy.

“New Challenges-New Directions” has been a painful part of University Maine systems landscape for some time. We have also been working on a fair way of transferring credits agreements between the state’s community colleges and the University of Maine System. Part of the problem has been previous University of Maine administrative policy which made the University’s campuses actively compete with one another rather than cooperate. The legacy of this foolish “free-market” is that the faculty and administrations of our campuses are only recently beginning to communicate in an effective and honest manner. This competition model ended (officially) several years ago, but this has an enduring legacy that started before even Angus King was governor.

Libby Mitchell understands the education needs of the state of Maine. She doesn’t advocate LePage’s slash and burn strategy (which seems to be the only strategy of the Tea Party in general). Indeed she has stated that reforming the UM System “doesn’t mean dismantling the access points of our campuses.” Libby knows the value of higher education within our state well. She recently wrote, “each campus is a driving force for both the culture and economy of their community and the state is better off because of it.”

Libby Mitchell has consistently advocated for a better collaboration between the providers of higher education in Maine as part of educational reform efforts without doing violence to our children’s futures. This is a far superior solution to closing important regional campuses or consolidating the University and Community College System into a massive, centralized bureaucracy. That is why I support her as Maine’s best choice for governor.

John F. DeFelice
Presque Isle

Haines offers real experience to District 7

To the editor:

In a very short time Maine voters will go to the polls and make decisions that will impact our state for years to come.  Although the race for the Blaine House will rightly garner the most attention, there are other contests that deserve our close scrutiny.  The quality of the people we send to the Statehouse will ultimately determine the effectiveness of the successful gubernatorial candidate.  Voters in House District 7 have an opportunity to send to Augusta a strong, articulate advocate for Aroostook County.  Troy Haines would be an asset in addressing the many problems our state government will confront in the near future.

We are retired educators and County beef producers who have farmed in both southern and central Aroostook.  We are keenly aware of the need for legislators who support diversified agriculture as an essential component of Aroostook County’s economic development.  We have known Troy Haines for a number of years, and have been impressed with his intelligence, his work ethic, his business acumen, and his understanding of the issues facing small farms.

At a time when the southern Maine crowd can barely envision anything north of Augusta, Troy Haines, a county native who has run a small agricultural business of his own, understands the issues facing the county.  The next legislature will face the daunting issues of taxes, energy, health care, education an aging population, and increasing levels of poverty.

Troy Haines has worked in the trenches on a number of these issues.  This experience affords him a pretty realistic view of what we’re up against.  This is why we need Troy as a state representative.  People need to understand that there is a choice here, and that there will be ramifications of votes cast on Nov. 2nd.

Please cast your vote for Troy Haines and help us realize Aroostook’s potential.

Stan and Gail Maynard
Orchard Hill Farm


Politics is a family affair

To the editor:

I will never forget the past 18 years, growing up in the Willette household. Over the years, my father, Micheal Willette, has taught my siblings and I many things, but the most important thing he ever taught us was how to work well with others efficiently to get the job done. My sister Sophia and I have channeled that knowledge into great use, but most importantly, my brother, Alexander Willette, took that knowledge and is now following in my dad’s footsteps.

I was so excited when my dad first got elected as District 5 Maine State Representative! His past two years as a state representative went by so quickly, and I’m so proud of him and his accomplishments for the city of Presque Isle. Just when I thought I couldn’t be any more proud of my family, my brother, Alex, announced to us that he was going to be running for the District 7 spot, the town in which we grew up in.

The first thing that came to my mind when he told us this was I better remove all the objects in our house that could potentially be used as weapons, because we now have a Democrat and a Republican running in the family. Then I remembered how my father would always tell us the key to getting things done is being able to work well with others. I know that if my brother Alex gets elected, he and my father will put aside their political differences and work together in a bipartisan manner to do what’s best for their districts, because in the end that’s what counts most.

The idea of having both my father and my brother working together in the Statehouse is something not a lot of people can say they have experienced. I have seen firsthand how my father and brother have worked together and all I can say is the Statehouse better watch out, because soon team Willette will be moving full speed ahead.

Maddisin Willette
Presque Isle