Geoffrey M. Gratwick

Geoffrey M. Gratwick

Geoffrey M. Gratwick

Democratic candidate for Maine Senate District 9 from Bangor

Running against N. Laurence Willey Jr.. View your ballot →

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

Welfare is a complex topic and generates a great deal of public concern. We have to ask: Do we want to simply keep people from starving, or do we want to help them become productive members of society? The first costs little, the second much more, but its benefits are far greater for everyone. We need to 1.) increase the frequency of reevaluations to be sure clients are still in need 2.) improve training programs for recipients; 3.) make the state programs that deal with welfare more responsive to the long term educational and training needs of recipients 4.)adjust the welfare cliff so that welfare recipients now working at minimum wage can keep some of the extra money they might earn at a better job without having all their welfare benefits cut. 5.) expand MaineCare using federal dollars

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

Sales taxes are paid by everyone regardless of income, i.e. they are regressive. The sales tax rate is already high enough and I would oppose any increase. The income tax should be restructured to make it more fair, but the state's income needs should not be shifted to the sales tax.

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

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

We need to wait until we have good data from Colorado and other western states that have begun legalization. Marijuana is a combination of at least 154 chemicals and we dont know enough about them; some do not pose health risks but others are not good at all. Eventually it will be legalized with appropriate rules, regulations and taxes.

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)

Maines future depends on educating our kids well. The State has not met its voter-mandated obligation for education funding, and schools in many towns face a fiscal crisis. The income raised by ballot Question 2 will go to supporting teachers and classroom activities, not for administrative expenses.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

Yes. Convicted felons, persons convicted of domestic abuse and those with significant mental illness should not have access to guns. In the eight states where there are already similar laws, firearm deaths of women and law enforcement officers are down by nearly 50%. Closing the gun-purchase loophole is supported by the Maine Police Chiefs Association.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required.)

Yes. Mainers are long overdue for an adjustment in the minimum wage. This will boost the minimum wage slowly to $12 per hour by 2020.

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)

Yes. This will require that candidates have a broad appeal. They will not be able to appeal to nor be elected by narrow interest groups. The constitutional question will not be clarified until a specific procedure is established by the Secretary of State after the election.

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?

Both are needed plus more prevention. Efforts should be directed at school kids as recommended by school principals in the BDN survey (9/22/16). I have been working with the Maine Medical Association and a DHHS subgroup to enact rules governing the prescription of opioids and other medications with abuse potential.

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 current system is working reasonably well. It is part of our system of checks and balances. The three constitutional officers and the State Auditor should continue to be elected by the legislature, rather than with a costly and issue-oriented popular vote.

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

Yes; No. If the size of the Legislature were to be reduced it would make Mainers even more distant from their government. The current Legislative committee system actually functions well and produces decisions that in general are well balanced. No salary increase should be considered until there is a substantial increase in Maine salaries generally.

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

Yes - and have made public statements to this effect.

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

No.Workers deserve the protection of a union when they have grievances and the strength of a union when they are negotiating. Our system works better when workers are at the bargaining table.

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

No. We have plenty. More casinos would not be in the interest of this part of the state.

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

We need to 1.) restore civil discourse in Augusta - Maine is a great place to live and work! 2.) increase our training programs for workers for the skilled jobs we can't fill now - as well as jobs of the future. 3.) streamline government red tape. 4.) decrease the cost of health care for Maine companies and individuals. 5.) expand MaineCare which would bring with it 3,400 jobs paid for largely with federal funds and 6.) increase high speed internet/broadband.

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?

We should 1.) adopt paid family medical leave to make jobs in Maine attractive to young people; 2.) decrease the cost of education through programs like FAME to forgive educational loans for graduates who stay in Maine; 3.) decrease the cost of health care; 4.) welcome recent immigrants in Maine by support, interest, clubs, participation in municipal activities, ESL programs, and job training.

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

Maine needs to adopt policies that will provide quality health care for all. The costs of our current system are out of control and hurting everyone - insurance, co-pays, medicines, pharmacy, hospitals, providers and much else. We must expand mental health care.