Dale Denno

Dale Denno

Dale Denno

Democratic candidate for Maine House District 45 from Cumberland

Running against Michael J. Timmons. View your ballot →

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

The question is too broad to answer concisely. For Maine's most vulnerable--persons with severe disabilities or mental health challenges, seniors in need, children living in hunger and the like, we must do all we can within the allowable budget. To the extent the question addresses our primary public assistance programs (MaineCare, Food Stamps and TANF), the answer varies. We have been foolish to pass up Medicaid expansion that would have provided 70,000 Mainers with health insurance. That decision by Gov. LePage is having dire consequences for our state. The emergency room has, for those 70,000 Mainers, become their source of primary care. We should adopt expansion. Food Stamps (SNAP) is 100% funded by the federal government, and we need to make sure our children and our seniors don't go through their days with empty stomachs. For legitimate claimants, we should take full advantage of this federal program. In 2011, 14,000 Maine families received TANF (AFDC). That number is now below 5,000. Yet we receive the same amount of federal funding as before, so that more than $150M has accumulated in a restricted account. We have the resources to now focus all our energies on getting every one of those families the work skills to become independent. I hope to work with DHHS to ensure that we make employment and independence our total focus.

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

Candidate did not answer this question.

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

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

There is a very rational argument to be made that marijuana is no worse than alcohol, and it certainly has less correlation to violent behavior, especially domestic abuse. But I don't believe that adopting a law written by large commercial marijuana interests for their own benefit (and setting their own rate of taxation) is the way to move forward.

There are a large number of unanswered questions that would have benefited from a thorough consideration by the normal law-making processes of the Legislature. With so many new variations of THC consumption (candy, brownies, cookies), how can we be sure that children don't consume the product? What have we learned from the experience of Colorado about children coming to the emergency rooms with THC in their systems? What effect does THC consumption have on the health of the user, especially the developing adolescent brain? This is the kind of issue that needs comprehensive vetting by a legislative committee. Therefore, I can't support the Question as written.

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)

As in the answer above, I don't like this kind of decision to be made by referendum. Significant changes in our tax structure would benefit from a careful, well-informed analysis and public hearings.

That being said, I believe that this is the only currently plausible source for meeting the 55% state funding level that has been an unfunded commitment for years. Nothing is more critical to Maine's economic development than education and training at all levels. Every child in Maine, whether they live in Cape Elizabeth or Eastport, must have the chance to develop the skills that will enable them to thrive in the complex world we live in.

I note that income taxes were decreased twice--in 2011 and 2015--so that the overall impact on most high-income Mainers is minimal. Also, this surtax can help many towns to reduce their property taxes, which are a crushing burden on citizens on fixed incomes.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

Candidate did not answer this question.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required.)

No one should work 40 hours a week and have to turn to Food Stamps to feed their family. Maine workers have waited 7 years for a minimum wage increase, and it's time we give workers a chance to actually make a living when they work hard all week.

From an economic perspective, the basis for a minimum wage is so that workers can buy the goods and services that are the foundation of our economy. FDR originated the minimum wage in order to stimulate the economy. We need for Maine workers to be able to afford a roof over their heads and 3 meals a day without turning to public assistance.

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)

Candidate did not answer this question.

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?

I reject a binary choice between interdiction and treatment: we must do both.

Governor LePage has focused almost entirely on law enforcement efforts, and he is to be commended for the work he has done to catch the criminals bringing poison into our state. However, he has been a complete failure on the treatment front.

Access to methadone, Suboxone, Narcan and the like are medical questions, to be addressed by medical experts. Gov. LePage tends to elevate his political views over valid medical and scientific knowledge. We need to listen to the best advice of our medical community, and provide them with the tools to help save the lives of addicted Mainers. These are not just addicts; they are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters. Programs like that at Mid-Coast in Brunswick are showing that there are effective treatment regimes, and we need to build upon the successes of programs like theirs.

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?

I would favor the current system. These roles are inherently apolitical--we are not looking for any of them to advocate for a particular political agenda. While the selection process has a political element, the individuals selected tend to be highly qualified and professional in the performance of their duties.

If these officers were to be selected by the voters, they would need to make promises and advocate positions that would appeal to their relevant political base. I believe that we are already exhausting our voters with the number of choices they already have to make.

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

I believe that the size is appropriate, given the geographic scope of the state.

As to Legislative pay, it should probably be linked to some kind price index to just keep it current. While no one likes to advocate for increasing pay to politicians, the downside of having a pay level that sinks lower and lower with inflation is that we may be discouraging people from running because they must prioritize supporting their families.

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

This question doesn't lend itself to a yes or no answer. An egregiously offensive statement, like those made to and about Rep. Gattine by Gov. LePage, should have resulted in some kind of vote of reprimand. However, I would normally give a wide range of latitude to legislators, since they were elected by the voters, and it's ultimately up to the voters to decide whether racist or prejudicial statements are beyond the pale.

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

Candidate did not answer this question.

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

Candidate did not answer this question.

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

The biggest barrier to economic development in Maine is lack of a skilled workforce. While Gov. LePage appears to believe that lower taxes and energy costs would solve our economic problems, employers consistently say that the lack of skilled employees is what is holding back our growth.

We need leadership--if not from the Governor, then from the Legislature--on developing a plan to give Mainers the skills that employers are looking for. From K-12 through our technical schools, community colleges and public and private universities, we need to connect skill-building to the current and future needs of employers in Maine, or to employers who might want to relocate to Maine. Our public universities should be technology hubs, providing R&D to employers and giving their students a path toward jobs when they graduate.

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?

With Maine's death rate exceeding its birth rate, we are heading in a scary direction. Too many of our young people are leaving the state, and too many of us who are left are retirees. The lack of an ample, skilled workforce discourages employers from starting businesses here, or from remaining here if they're already in business.

We risk a future where Maine becomes a magnet only for vacationers and retirees from away--with our jobs being to clean and maintain their houses. That is not a future to pass on to our kids and grandkids. We need a vibrant, energetic economy that capitalizes on our work ethic, ingenuity and sense of community.

The first thing we must do is to give our young people the skills to succeed in the emerging economy. Simultaneously, we need to lure employers to locate or remain in Maine, so that our young people can build lives here. And last, we need to take full advantage of the New Mainers who have joined our community, and incorporate their skills and work ethic into Maine's workforce.

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

The questionnaire did not ask about Maine's environment. Our most valuable asset is our pristine water, clean air and unpolluted soil. We need to put a very high priority on protecting that legacy, and passing it along to our children and grandchildren.