Joseph J. Pietroski

Joseph J. Pietroski

Joseph J. Pietroski

Independent candidate for Maine Senate District 14 from Winthrop

Running against Shenna Bellows and Bryan P. Cutchen. View your ballot →

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

I don't believe so; however, I do support a system that provides oversight and compliance with requirements such as having to work, go to school, provide childcare services, or community service if physically able to do so.

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

Maine residents need a reduction in their property taxes, The State must increase the homestead tax credit and meet its obligation to fund education at a minimum of 55%. Most residents don't see a great benefit from lowering the income tax and raising sales taxes affects unfairly persons with mid to low incomes.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

I worry about whether or not this will increase access to those under 18. At the same time, I believe that it is time to fully decriminalize recreational use.

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)

All referendum questions go to the State Legislature for review and possible action including putting together a companion question. At least two Governors and four legislative sessions have had the opportunity to meet the 55% funding minimum supported by Maine voters. While this solution is not perfect, we must take actions to lower Maine's property tax burden. I do not see school costs going down, not with the additional mandates placed on local school districts, the lack of students studying to become teachers in our colleges because other jobs have much higher income possibilities, and the necessity to meet many infrastructure and maintenance needs. Passing this referendum will help many Maine residents, especially our State's growing senior citizen population be able to pay lower property taxes and be able to stay in their homes.

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

No

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

I do support having background checks for any sale of a firearm. Question 3, however, goes further. It is not just about background checks. I am having difficulty seeing how this referendum can work without setting up a gun registry. A gun registry seems to me to be in conflict with 2nd amendment rights. At the same tine, I have become confused about some non-background checking aspects, such as allowing family members to use and inherit firearms, letting friends borrow a gun for a hunting trip when the owner of the firearm is not present, and when does a person commit a felony? Both sides have said a lot of things about this question. Who is correct? We need an independent panel to become involved in answering the questions being raised. Finally, I can see another piece of legislation being introduced in the next legislative session just focusing on background checks for all firearm sales. I will have an open mind if this legislation is introduced.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required.)

The State of Maine should have increased the minimum wage on a regular basis starting many years ago. Workers should be able to earn a livable wage. I wish that the Legislature had not shirked its duty and through a companion question addressed the restaurant worker and student issues. Party dictates, again got in the way of passing good legislation minus some of the detriments found in the current question.

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)

The current system works fine.

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?

The opiate/heroin crisis must be approached on four fronts: medical, treatment, rehabilitation, and law enforcement. The addictive control once it takes hold is very difficult to escape. I would like to see methadone and Suboxone therapies and rehabilitation services expanded. And while I support strict enforcement action for those who would supply the illegal drugs, I applaud the many police departments who are showing compassion to those who have become addicted.

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 like to see Independent Candidates have the opportunity to compete for these constitutional positions; thus I would favor having a statewide popular vote.

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

I believe that the size of the Maine Legislature is appropriate especially in view of the geographic area that must be represented. The legislative pay is adequate; but does not reflect the considerable time necessary to fulfill the requirements of the position. The pay does discourage some people from running. Using myself as an example, raising a family of six children, the legislative pay did discourage me from running until my children were grown and out of college.

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

Yes. Elected officials have to be held to a higher standard. Without high standards, we negatively affect the values and lifestyles other citizens and their children and grandchildren? I am also concerned that such immature actions are affecting how people outside the state look at Maine as a place to visit, to move to, or to invest in.

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?

No, Maine's two casinos seem to be filling the need. Is their really a public demand for more casinos or is it just some well financed group trying to buy into the State.

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

Maine lacks a well-educated available workforce. We must increase retraining opportunities, raise incomes for in home health care workers, provide more affordable housing options in communities where businesses are looking for employees, and most of all adopt high school curriculums that provide students with the opportunity to graduate from high school with at least one year of community college courses completed. Getting more Maine students to complete at least a two-year community college degree will greatly help provide the educated workforce that will provide employers with the workforce they need. I might also mention, the with Maine's fast growing senior citizen population, we need to encourage these individuals to come back to work, perhaps in part time positions to help meet the need for employees.

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?

First provide opportunities for senior citizens to continue to work at a pace that they could like, for instance 4-5 hours a day, three days a week. Second, I agree with the economists that immigration is an important part of addressing the need for workers and families.

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

I am disappointed that you did not include in your main list the failure of this State and its Legislature to provide necessary services for adults and children with disabilities including autism and mental health issues. Each year nearly a thousand students graduate from Maine high schools with special needs and disabilities. There are not enough services available. So hundreds are placed on a waiting list that might last years. What happens when these young adults are not provided with continuous services? Many of the things they have learned, are negated by the last of programs. We have got to do better. Many of these young people can become productive citizens if the services are available to them. One of my legislative priorities will be to work to provide services for every student coming out of high school and for all the adults who are still working for opportujites to live independently and to find appropriate job opportunities.