Christina Riley

Christina Riley

Christina Riley

Democratic candidate for Maine House District 74 from Jay

Running against Keith R. Cornelio. View your ballot →

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

The generosity of the rates is not as much an issue as the efficiency and oversight of the programs. The system is unwieldy and fragmented; I would like to find ways to streamline it to maximize efficiency. Those who truly need assistance often don't have the wherewithal to navigate through it, while those who have made a career of gaming the system will always be one step ahead. We have to do what we can to identify those people and enforce the penalty for abuse. But we also need to recognize that there are people who are desperate through no fault of their own and who don't really have any other options, and its morally unacceptable to persecute them for it.

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

I do not. We have large populations of elderly and poor people who live on low and/or fixed incomes. Many Mainers have seen their incomes fall as they have accepted lower-wage service employment after losing higher-wage jobs in the manufacturing sector. Income taxes adjust to accommodate those situations, while adding to the sales tax may push our most vulnerable residents further into poverty, which helps no one.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

I don't see value in spending money on enforcement against a drug that is probably less dangerous than alcohol, so this initiative makes sense. I like that it forbids marketing aimed at children, and that it will include a 10% sales tax enough to bring in some revenue, but probably not enough to push the business back into a black market. The law should be reworked to increase oversight, enforcement, and protections for children, such as to outlaw the selling of marijuana-based edibles which are sweetened or candy-like, to help keep it away from youngsters.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

Ideally, this law would be unnecessary; it should be built into our income tax rates. But huge tax cuts for the wealthiest Mainers have cut into our budget and schools are struggling. This surtax is estimated to bring $635,000 to my local school district, which will give local property-tax payers some much-needed relief.

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

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

I am not opposed to the principle, but the current initiative is cumbersome, expensive, and nearly unenforceable. It will create a burden for those who follow the law, but many will disregard it altogether, making it easy for buyers who would be turned away with a background check to simply avoid the whole procedure. I would support backgrounds checks if there were an easier and less costly way for law-abiding citizens to comply than what this initiative would create.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required.)

People who work should bring home enough pay to support themselves; our tax dollars should not be needed to subsidize their wages. When a very poor person earns a little more, they don't need as much public assistance, and they will spend that money (often locally), fueling the economy. We need that. This initiative increases the wage in reasonable steps, so businesses will be able to adapt. It has helped other states economies, and I think it will help ours.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

I like the cost-saving idea of an immediate run-off, and I believe results of such a vote would give a truer picture of the will of the people. The law, if passed, may require us to examine the wording of our State Constitution, as it currently requires only a plurality and not a majority.

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?

Drug abuse is an intractable problem that requires a multi-faceted approach. We need to seek the knowledge of those who deal with this problem on a daily basis police, teachers, doctors, social workers, clergy, and people who are directly affected by addiction in order to create the best policy. We should not choose between stopping the dealers, educating those who are at risk, and treating the users; we need to attack this problem from every direction.

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?

The system should stay as it is.

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

I like the size of Maines districts; they ensure that many people personally know the representatives they vote for, encouraging easy access. If the pay were higher, it would be feasible for more people who need to work for a living to seek office, widening the range of voices in our state government. But with the state budget as strained as it is, it is not the most critical place to put our resources.

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

Absolutely, but only if the comments were incontrovertibly documented and caused real anguish or harm to groups or individuals. It is not an action I would take lightly.

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

No. Those kinds of laws have not effected real economic growth in other states, and wages tend to go down. That is not a good direction for Maine.

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

Its unlikely. So far, the evidence I have seen indicates that Maine is close to saturated. New facilities would not bring in new revenue; they would mostly just steal revenue from the existing facilities.

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

Infrastructure, particularly utilities. We need to invest in and expand our range of energy sources, which will, in the long run, reduce the cost of these essential services while also creating jobs in the short term. The infrastructure surrounding our $8.5-billion forest-products industry is vital to the survival of that sector and the tens of thousands of Maine jobs that depend on it. Strategic support is urgently needed to reverse the downward spiral we have been experiencing.

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?

Maine has a long history of economic growth built on the hard work of not just native Mainers, but also immigrants like my grandfather. Waves of immigrants have always been met with concerns as grave as those we are seeing today, but, over time, those suspicions tend to melt away. The data that we have shows that we all benefit from careful and well-planned immigration policies, and I support the continued growth of our state by welcoming new Mainers and helping them to become a part of our society.

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

The opioid crisis was brushed upon in Question 8, but I think it is only a piece of a much larger public-health problem. We have seen a decrease in our public health nurses and in programs for mental-health needs, among others. The rates of infant mortality and of children living in extreme poverty are going up, and there are concerns about our ability to deal with a public threat such as an infectious disease outbreak. When a crisis erupts, it will be too late to replace the infrastructure that has been dismantled, and lives will be lost because of it.