Race for Maine House District 15

in the 2016 General Election

Mark Alan Bedell

Mark Alan Bedell

1,709 (33.91%)

Republican - Saco

Candidate profile

Margaret M. O'Neil

Margaret M. O'Neil

3,331 (66.09%)

Democratic - Saco

Candidate profile

Is Maine too generous in providing social services to its residents? Which government benefits should be increased or decreased?

O'Neil
There is waste and abuse in lots of government spending. However, a good policymaker cannot categorically declare that Maine is too generous with social services. Maine has worked to root out fraud and other abuses, and the legislature closely scrutinizes the budget every year, adjusting spending priorities after careful consideration of available resources and demand for those resources. We must ensure that limited public dollars go to most effectively benefit the least fortunate among us.

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Do you support expanding or raising the sales tax to lower the state income tax? Why or why not?

O'Neil
Maine has examined several proposals to expand or raise the sales tax. I prefer not to raise the sales tax, especially since my district is so close to New Hampshire. However, expansion of the sales tax can be proposed in numerous ways, and it does not necessarily have to increase state revenues. There are pros and cons to every tax proposal. For instance, expansion of the sales tax base could help level out the inconsistency of state revenues year over year, but expansion could also disadvantage certain industries. I am not in favor of any one proposal at this time, but I think it is a good issue for the legislature to examine.

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Do you support marijuana legalization in Maine, as outlined in Question 1?

O'Neil
Yes

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Please explain your answer. (Not required)

O'Neil
It will contribute to our economy, and replace an underground market with a safer, regulated network of licensed businesses.

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Do you support raising taxes on Mainers with incomes above $200,000 to increase state aid to education, as outlined in Question 2?

O'Neil
Yes

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Please explain your answer. (Not required)

O'Neil
No response.

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Do you support universal background checks for firearm sales, as outlined in Question 3?

O'Neil
Yes

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Please explain your answer. (Not required)

O'Neil
I support the rights and freedoms of responsible gunowners, especially the hunters in our state, but I also support universal background checks for firearm sales and would like to see this loophole closed.

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Should Maine raise its minimum wage, as outlined in Question 4?

O'Neil
Yes

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Please explain your answer. (Not required.)

O'Neil
No response.

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Do you support the initiative to use ranked-choice voting to elect state and federal officials in Maine, as outlined in Question 5?

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

O'Neil
While I like the idea of increasing the fairness of multiple-candidate elections, I am not convinced that ranked-choice voting is the solution. I think more research should be conducted before altering our system.

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Should Maine prioritize law enforcement efforts to intercept drug traffickers over expanding access to substance abuse treatment, such those that incorporates medications like methadone and Suboxone?

O'Neil
Maine should prioritize enforcement, prevention, and treatment, rather than one at the expense of the others.

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Should Maines constitutional officers -- the secretary of state, the attorney general, auditor and the treasurer -- continue to be elected by the Legislature or by statewide popular vote?

O'Neil
Many states do not elect constitutional officers the way Maine does, but there is no evidence that Maines system needs to change. If any of those four offices were in need of reform, there might be some merit in examining other methodologies such as gubernatorial appointment.

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Is the size of Maines Legislature appropriate? Should the pay for legislative service be increased?

O'Neil
There is merit in a discussion of reducing the number of legislators. In this day of digital outreach, elected officials are able to have wider contact with their districts. Our state has a high number of legislators for our population and a reduction would save our state money. That being said, Mainers like the accessibility of their elected officials, so it would be a difficult change. The pay for legislative service need not be increased.

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Would you support sanctioning another elected official if he or she made public comments or statements that were considered racist, offensive or prejudicial?

O'Neil
On a case by case basis, as appropriate under the system, I would support sanctions.

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Would you support a so-called right to work law in Maine?

O'Neil
No.

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Would you support legislation or a ballot question to allow more casinos in Maine?

O'Neil
While I would be wary of any casino proposal, and I would maintain a high bar in accepting any more into Maine, I cannot say I would oppose casinos across the board. It is important that we consider where we develop casinos and how many we allow. It is also important to consider much money our state can gain in return.

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What is the biggest barrier to economic development in Maine and what can the Legislature do to address it?

O'Neil
This is a very complex issue with several components to an ongoing solution. In order to attract new industries and raise incomes, Maine must invest in our infrastructure and workforce development. Members of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce cite a lack of skilled workers as their largest barrier to growth. We have opportunities underway to invest in workforce development in our community college system. In addition, studies have shown that Maine ranks among the lowest in the nation in internet download speeds. An investment in broadband is a huge opportunity for growth in Maine.

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Census data show Maines population is aging and decreasing, with some economists suggesting that immigration is the best way to reverse those trends. What should the state do to address this demographic trend?

O'Neil
Immigration is one of many pieces to the puzzle of growing a robust population. It is also important that we pursue policies to attract and retain skilled and educated young people. We must keep looking for ways to raise earning capacity while enhancing Maines overall quality of life.

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What is the most pressing issue in Maine these questions have not addressed?

O'Neil
Our pristine natural resources and access to the outdoors are a large part of Maine's brand and a continuing opportunity for economic growth. Investing in land conservation alongside smart development that protects our natural resources and maintains the character of our communities will ensure economic development while preserving what sets our state apart as a great place to live.

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