Seth A. Berry

Seth A. Berry

Seth A. Berry

Democratic candidate for Maine House District 55 from Bowdoinham

Running against Brian D. Hobart. View your ballot →

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

Candidate did not answer this question.

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

Generally, no. We tried this in 2009 and I supported it, but it was rejected by the people. I respect their vote and I think we need to look at other ways to reform the tax code. One clear message of the 2009 people's veto was that the tax code needs to be fairer to working families and the middle class, who are hardest hit by property and sales taxes. I agree strongly with this and feel it should be our first priority.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

Candidate did not answer this question.

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)

I support Question 2 because I work for a Maine business that depends on an intelligent, educated workforce, because I want strong schools for my own children's future, and because as a portion of their income, minimum-wage Mainers presently pay far more in overall taxes than the wealthiest 1%. Question 2 will improve our schools stronger, reduce property taxes, and make our businesses more competitive.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required)

If I sell my gun on Uncle Henry's or at a gun show, I want to know the buyer is not a rapist or or on the terror watch list. Question 3 will give me that peace of mind. However, I also want to be sure the concerns raised by opponents are addressed, even if that means legislation next year. I should not have to pay a fee and run a check if I lend a weapon to a friend for a hunting trip, or store it with a family member while stationed overseas.

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

Yes

Please explain your answer. (Not required.)

Wages need to keep up with inflation. They have not done so, even at a time when the economy and worker productivity have improved. Also, many low-wage workers are also new parents, which is why one in five young children now live in poverty. The research shows that poverty makes it a whole lot harder for a young child to succeed -- and that in the long run, we all pay for that. In short, people who work for a living should be able to make a living.

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?

No. We need all three: enforcement, treatment and prevention. At present, an outstanding model in my area is the Mid Coast Hospital's Addiction Resource Center, or ARC. It is a medication-assisted treatment center than is saving both lives and money. We need to replicate it, along with everything else that works. We need to focus on what works, not on our ideological positions, to save lives. Addiction is a disease, and needs to be treated that way.

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 ambivalent. Overall, it seems to me the system isn't broke and does not need fixing.

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

It's big, but the reason I like the House is that my neighbors and constituents actually know me and seem me around town. That kind of access is pretty priceless, especially in rural areas. As for pay, it is definitely a big financial hit to serve in the Legislature. It should increase in the future, so that it's not just retirees and the wealthy who are able to serve.

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

I don't know that censure means much. But if it would cost you your job at Bean's or BIW, it should probably cost you your job as an elected official.

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?

Only if that casino went to the tribes. Casino rights should have gone to the tribes from the start.

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

We have huge potential, but in Augusta we hear too much from lawyers and lobbyists for the rich and powerful. We need to listen to small businesses needing capital, small children needing decent daycare, working moms needing fair wages and family leave, veterans without health care, seniors needing medicine and help with weather stripping. Businesses like the one I work for do better when the middle class is strong, because more people have money in their pockets to spend. We need to focus on having an economy that works for everyone, or eventually it won't work at all.

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?

Mainers are dying faster than they are being born. That's a problem. We need new Mainers, both from the U.S. and internationally. We also need every child born in Maine to have a strong start on the ladder of opportunity, and a strong safety net under them. We need to diversify and strengthen our workforce, and to maximize the resources we already have. Young people will choose to settle and stay in Maine as long as we are the kind of place that welcomes them and their values -- values like cultural and linguistic diversity, outdoor recreation and fitness, equality, the arts, the environment, and good schools. The vibrant startup scene and thriving economy in the Portland area show us that where the conditions are ripe, the jobs will follow.

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

90% of brain development happens by age three. We need to focus more as a state on helping young families, families of infants and toddlers. When these families succeed, we all benefit. According to one Nobel-wining economist, the lifetime return on investment of quality, targeted early childhood efforts is typically over $16 to $1. A greater, sustained focus on early childhood can help our children and grandchildren to lead happier and healthier lives.