Congressman Mike Michaud running for sixth term in U.S. Congress

12 years ago

    EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — United States Congressman Michael Michaud was raised in Medway and graduated from Schenck High School in East Millinocket in 1973. After graduation, Michaud followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and father and worked at Great Northern Paper in Millinocket for 29 years.
    Inspired by a desire to help clean up the badly polluted Penobscot River, Michaud was elected to Maine’s House of Representatives in 1980 and remained in state government until he was elected to the U.S.  Congress in 2002. Michaud is currently running for his sixth term representing Maine’s District 2.
Geographically, District 2 is the largest congressional district east of the Mississippi. Ranging from the more urban atmosphere of the city of Bangor, to the tourist areas of Mt. Desert Island and Bethel, to the very rural Aroostook County, Michaud recognizes that meeting all the needs of such a diversified area can be challenging.
“It requires thinking outside of the box to get done what needs to be done,” Michaud explained.
Michaud is proud of the many projects he has taken part in that have benefited Aroostook County’s cultural and economic development.
The congressman worked with the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to not only keep Limestone’s Defense Finance and Accounting Services site open, but to contribute to its growth over the years. He has been a champion of expanding veterans’ healthcare options, working diligently to increase services available at Cary Medical Center in Caribou and also at Houlton Regional Hospital.
Michaud has been an active participant in the broadband expansion project, which focuses on bringing high-speed Internet service to extremely rural areas in the state. And he keeps a close eye on U.S. government agencies to make sure their decisions do not negatively impact Maine. For example, Michaud fought against the recent attempt by the USDA to eliminate potatoes from school meals, which would have affected Aroostook County farmers. He also worked to help get $250,000 in grant funds from the Northern Border Regional Commission to expand Madawaska’s recreational facilities in order to accommodate the 2014 World Acadian Congress.
Recently Michaud met with the Israeli consul general in Boston, discussing Israel purchasing refurbished Humvees from the United States. Michaud is participating in negotiations to get the work completed at the Maine Military Authority in Limestone. More discussions about this with the consul general are slated for later.
Also to benefit the MMA, Michaud would like to see more contracts for school bus refurbishment. According to Michaud, a refurbished bus costs $30,000, as compared to purchasing brand new buses for approximately $90,000. Michaud believes getting more contracts for refurbished buses would bring work to The County and, at the same time, save the government money.
In order for Aroostook County to retain its younger population and not have so many leave the area after their education is complete, Michaud’s target is jobs.
“The biggest focus has to be on how to get businesses to expand,” the congressman stated, adding that the broadband expansion project is a huge positive step in that direction.
Michaud also keeps veterans issues at the top of his priority list, especially Project ARCH, a pilot program that Cary Medical Center participates in to provide veterans with a place to receive healthcare locally instead of having to travel to veterans’ hospitals.
“Cary’s program has been incredibly successful,” boasts Michaud.
Funding for veterans homes to expand as they prepare to inevitably take on additional care responsibilities is another important issue for Michaud.
“It’s so important that we expand veteran services with local providers,” Michaud stressed. “In offering a local option for healthcare, we have reduced travel miles by 250,000. That’s pretty significant.”
It’s his work on projects such as ARCH that Michaud finds most rewarding about being a politician.
“I enjoy being able to help people out and getting them the services they need,” Michaud said. “Maine has been left behind in so many areas. What can we do to move Maine forward?”
What Michaud finds most challenging in his political career is the division and lack of communication between the two major parties. He hopes to be able to help mend the divisive relationships that have formed.
“We need to open up the line of trust and communication,” Michaud advised. “That’s what’s missing. We need to work in an environment where Democrats and Republicans sit together instead of in separate rooms.”
If re-elected, Michaud plans on continuing his work with economic development and veterans’ affairs, especially making sure the ARCH program continues and expands. He believes healthcare issues in general need to be focused upon.
“Mainers need accessible and affordable health care,” Michaud said.
According to Michaud, Congress also needs to work on its record with appropriation bills. Citing that the budget has only passed on time on four occasions in the past 36 years, Michaud supports the No Budget, No Pay Act, which would withhold Congress members’ pay until a budget is passed.
Republican State Senator Kevin Raye is Michaud’s challenger. Michaud believes that he differs from Raye in that he is more apt to consider a proposal’s benefits to Maine than his opponent is.
“Often Congress is threatened by different organizations that will hold it against them if a vote does not go their way,” Michaud explained. “I always look at how something will benefit Maine.”
Michaud states that when his work is done at congressional sessions in D.C., he gets right on a plane back to Maine in order to deal with what has to be done in the state. When not in Washington, Michaud resides in his hometown of East Millinocket.