Harold L. Stewart III

Harold L. Stewart III

Harold L. Stewart III

Republican candidate for Maine House District 147 from Presque Isle

Running against Robert J. Saucier. View your ballot →

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

I think that we need to get serious about cracking down on welfare fraud and abuse. There are simple changes that can and should be made so that we can get back to the business of helping those most in need. The issue is not so simple that anyone can say that one benefit or another should be increased or reduced. Instead, a more comprehensive look at how we handle social services in general is necessary. We need to make sure that the services we are providing those in need are what they really need. It makes little sense to provide someone with food stamps when what they really need is a better system of transportation. To that end, we must approach each situation individually and with special considerations given to what each person needs to achieve success in life. I support policies of providing hand-ups, not hand-outs, and believe that the governments only objective should be to provide people with the ability to one day get off all forms of social services, permanently. It is only when we do this that we will be both providing the most efficient and effective social services, while also being most responsible with taxpayers hard-earned money.

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

I would be in favor of whatever tax policies would be benefit the state of Maine the most. One concern I have with increasing the sales tax is the impact it might have on those who are on fixed incomes- particularly our seniors. If there is a way to capitalize on Maines tourism industry without harming Mainers in the process, I would support those idea for tax reform.

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

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

I think that legalizing recreational marijuana is about the last thing that our state needs right now. Legalizing marijuana will be bad for the youth of Maine and our future as a state and only compound the problems we are already facing on a widespread level. Our children need less exposure to drugs, not more. This proposal will make marijuana virtually impossible to regulate and put an undue burden on our schools and families, as they will have to become the primary sources of guarding our children against exposure. This is a bad idea that we do not need and will not provide our state with any real benefit at the end of the day and will, in the end, do much more harm than good.

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

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

Maine is already an incredibly unfriendly state towards businesses and their owners- who would be targeted through this proposition. Those who would be hurt by this change will have even more of a reason to leave our state, placing the burden once again on our middleclass to foot the bill. We do not need to tax our wealthiest citizens to fund our schools properly. By cutting down on wasteful spending, reducing or eliminating unfunded mandates, and providing schools with the resources we promised them (55% of their budgets through state sources) we will see school systems that allow our students to learn most effectively and where teachers can get back to doing what they do best- teaching our kids.

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

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

Maine is the safest state in the country in terms of gun violence. This change is not necessary and would only hinder the great heritage and traditions of sportsmanship that we have enjoyed for so long. Maine already requires background checks for any gun sales. Transferring a family firearm from one generation to another is now viable grounds to charge a felony or mandate government involvement and permission. Maine does not need out-of-state interests to tell us how to live our lives anymore than we need more laws controlling how we hunt, respect, and value our longstanding traditions and heritage. More states should follow Maines lead on gun control- we would be a safer country if this was this case.

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

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required.)

I oppose the current proposition to increase Maines minimum wage. I am not opposed to raising the minimum wage in a way that makes sense. This means keeping small business owners in mind and understanding that Maine will be put at a disadvantage nationally if we raise our minimum wage at a rate much higher than other states. Simply increasing the minimum wage to an arbitrary amount, such as $12 an hour, will do nothing to solve the real problems facing our economy- most notably that Maine is already very unfriendly towards businesses. We need to be advocating for policies that create a business-friendly environment for our state that will allow for the creation of career jobs that can support a family. This is a bad idea for Maine and only a Band-Aid when a comprehensive solution is needed to solve the problems facing our economy.

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

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

I am opposed to knee-jerk policy changes in general, and believe that this initiative is just that in reaction to the previous gubernatorial election in Maine. The data that I have seen will make little (if any) difference in the results of elections at the end of the day. I also believe that each person should have just one vote. By remaining with the one-person, one-vote rule, we are maintaining the idea that you are voting for a candidate and not simply against another. This proposal is unnecessary and convolutes the electoral process in Maine in an attempt to play a game at the ballot box, rather than choosing the best representation for each position in Maines government.

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?

Maines response to the drug epidemic facing our state must be comprehensive and incorporate involvement from leaders at all levels of government and the community. There is not silver bullet answer to this crisis. We must not rule out any options that can be proven to both save lives and/or prevent the spread of this horrible disease. Collaboration and cooperation is the best and only way to ensure that we can achieve these goals.

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 am in favor of a government that is responsive and responsible to the people. If having these officers elected by a statewide popular vote proved to be the best way to achieve this goal, then I could support such an idea.

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

This is an issue that should be left up to the people of Maine to decide and not up to the Legislature to determine for themselves, as there is a clear conflict of interest in that regard. It is important to understand though that our Legislature is comprised of an older population, many of whom are retired, as these are the only individuals who can afford such a job. If we want a more diverse legislature in age, gender and occupation, having their salaries be a livable wage is one idea that might work. We must not lose sight of the fact that Maine has a citizens legislature, which is to be diverse in that regard by design- without allowing career politicians to dominate the decision-making done in Augusta. If a pay increase achieves both of these goals effectively, and the people of Maine determined it was the right choice, then I would be inclined to agree.

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

I do not believe that there is any place for racism or prejudice in our society and would never support any comments or statements that are proven to be just that.

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

I believe that folks should have the right to organize for the purposes of collective bargaining, but should never be forced to do so or feel pressure from unions to the point where they feel that they have to join their organization and pay the fees associated with them in order to keep or get a job.

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

I am not sold on the idea that expanding casinos in Maine is the right move right now. The previous attempts at opening casinos in Aroostook County have not achieved much success or support. I would be curious to see what, if any, impact studies might exist around this topic and do recognized that proper management must be in place for these ventures to be successful. Additionally, I think its also important that we bring our existing gambling revenues in line with the law before we can even consider expansion on this subject. As the law states, the revenues from gambling are supposed to be going to help education, though it is well known that this has yet to happen in full since the passage of that law. If we want to talk about how we can better-fund education in our state, we can start by following the law that the people already passed.

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

Unnecessary regulations, high taxes, an under-qualified workforce and few incentives to set-up shop here are just a few of the things holding Maines economy back. If we want more business to come to Maine and employ our workers, the best thing that the Legislature and government in general can do is get out of its own way. By reducing regulations and taxes on businesses and providing them with a skilled and knowledgable workforce (attained through education), as well as incentivizing them to come to rural Maine in particular, we will have a stronger state-wide economy and higher employment across the state. The Legislature needs to recognize that Mainers are smart people and can figure out which products they want and will pay for on their own- its not the governments job to dictate costs, tell business how to operate, or disincentive their coming to Maine by taking most of their profits away in the form of taxes. My work in Augusta will be centered around creating a business-friendly environment for Maine and bringing more jobs and a stronger economy back to Aroostook County and the hard-working people of Presque Isle.

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?

Maines demographic issues are at crisis-level, particularly here in the County. We need ideas to bring as many young people back here and prevent so many of them from leaving. This is a big part of the reason I am running for office. As a 22 year old, I would be the youngest member of the legislature, and I also am one of the only members of my graduating class (Presque Isle High School 2012) who chose to return home to help address some of these issues and provide new ideas and leadership on how to go about solving this problem. If attracting more immigrants can be proven to benefit our area, then it is absolutely an avenue I would consider, though the necessary precautions must be taken and a proper plan must be in place to make sure this would not cause more harm than good to our community. If we want to address this issue and reverse these trends in the County, we must start to incorporate new ideas and new individuals into the mix- if we do not change our current path then we are destined for nothing but more of the same.

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

It seems to me like every week or so I hear of another friend moving out of the County to pursue a job opportunity elsewhere. In Aroostook County, weve got a reputation for having the hardest-working people in the world with the best work ethic around. My number one goal in Augusta is to fight for policies that make companies want to set up shop here, because I know that we have great folks that can compete with any other labor pool in the world. Im tired of seeing young folks, like myself, leave my hometown because they cant make it here anymore. Im going to fight to bring more young people and families back to the County by incorporating new ideas, innovation and hard work. Northern Maine is a great place to grow up, raise a family, and enjoy life- I want to make sure that anyone who wants to do that will be able to.