2016-10-28 / Community News

Election 2016

Meet the candidates

House District 28

Town councilor Chris Caiazzo is looking to unseat incumbent District 28 representative Heather Sirocki. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order. The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Scarborough High School.

Name: Christopher J. Caiazzo

Age: 46

Phone number: 883-6482

Position seeking: Maine House of Representative District 28

Occupation: Business Development Manager – NEM USA

Family: Married to Beth, two children, Joshua and Justin

Education: Bachelor’s of science degree in marine engineering with a nuclear power minor from Maine Maritime Academy, Castine.

Organizations and activities: Scarborough Board of Education – 2012 – 2015 (finance chair 2012 – 2015), Scarborough Town Council 2015 – present (finance committee and energy committee liaison)

Top three issues: (in order of priority)

1.) Education – I believe the state should fully fund 55 percent of the local cost of K-12 education as mandated by the voters and I will advocate for the legislature to fulfill this legal obligation.

2.) Property tax – As the state continues to reduce municipal and school revenue sharing, towns like Scarborough are forced to bridge the resulting funding shortfalls with the only mechanism available to them, property tax. If that continues to be the case, I believe that towns should have the authority to implement locally developed and managed property tax relief, independent of Augusta control.

3.) Renewable energy investment – According to a recent Press Herald article “The growth of solar in New England is being driven in large part by policies that promote renewable energy in Massachusetts and, to a lesser extent, Connecticut. Roughly 1,774 megawatts of solar currently are installed in the region and 1,241 megawatts of that are in Massachusetts. Connecticut trails with 273, and Vermont is third with 154. Maine has by far the least of the six states, at 20 megawatts.” We need to fix this.

In your own words, why are you seeking elected office?

I was born in Portland and graduated from Maine Maritime Academy with an engineering degree. After graduation, I proudly served as an officer in the United States Naval Reserves for 11 years. My family has lived in Scarborough since 2000 where we raised our boys.

I have a proven record of making fact-based decisions and collaborating with town officials, as well as the local business community, to find innovative solutions to some of our most pressing problems. I am working to help improve the communication between the council and our citizens and to formalize the positive working relationship between the school board and the town council.

This helped us to stabilize the property tax rate and approach the municipal and school budgets as a joint town budget, which was passed by voters on the first try for the first time in five years. Serving on the board of education and the town council have shown me that there is only so much that can be done at the town level to help our community prosper. When votes are cast in Augusta based on partisan politics rather than the best interest of our town, it is the people of our town who suffer.

I believe Scarborians work hard to make our town a great place to work and live and deserve better representation than this. I believe serving in the state Legislature is a way I can better serve our community by voting in the best interests of Scarborough residents.

Name: Heather W. Sirocki

Age: 57

Position seeking: Maine House of Representative District 28

Phone: 883-5609 (Home) 730-6602 (Cell)

Occupation: State representative, Member: Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, Maine Children’s Growth Council. Dental office: administrative assistant, retired dental hygienist

Family: Married for 31 years to Stephen with three adult sons

Education: AS dental hygiene from Westbrook College/ UNE- Portland, Maine

Organizations and activities: Member: Westbrook College Alumni Board, Informed Women’s Network. Former: booster chair Gym Dandies Children’s Circus, Scarborough High School Academic Decathlon team, SHS Band Booster secretary, treasurer Greater Portland Sea Scouts/Boy Scouts of America, member of the church vestry and superintendent of religious education at Blue Point Congregational Church, religious education teacher St. Maximilian Kolbe Church, Casco Bay dental hygiene study club, appointed member Substance Abuse Services Commission, Women in Government director, gardening, hiking, camping, reading.

Top three issues: (in order of priority)

1. Business growth and work force development - the state’s low unemployment rate is a blessing and a challenge. With more than 20,000 new private sector jobs in the last six years and a recently reported $100 million unexpected revenue surplus due to increased income tax and sales tax collection, and according to this summer’s Pew Charitable Trust report, Maine’s personal income growth rose by 4.6 percent, the second largest jump in the country. Maine’s economy is clearly gaining strength. Maine needs more workers-especially skilled workers. Programs that help transition individuals from welfare to the work are helping meet our workforce needs and are a continued priority. I support repealing laws that over-regulate businesses.

2. Health and human services – prioritize limited resources for our most vulnerable populations. Of special concern: the cognitively and physically disabled, elderly, mentally ill, and individuals in need of substance abuse services.

3. Education: While the state has been providing annual increases in funding for our public school system from preschool through 12th-grade, it has struggled to achieve the 55 percent funding benchmark. With a declining student population, currently about 180,000 pupils, Maine spends more than $2 billion per year. Maine stands well above the national average in education spending per pupil, and half of the cost is paid by the state, with about $1.1 billion per year in state aid. The school funding formula needs to be adjusted to more accurately factor in the local debt burden and property values. We also need to increase the affordability of higher education, evaluate our education priorities, examine the reasons for our stagnant test scores, and consider our ability to fund important areas of concern.

Why are you seeking elected office? Six years ago, voters elected me to serve as their representative from Scarborough.

Legislators listen to constituents, set priorities, and make laws. I take my job seriously. As part of a team, I am a citizen legislator and work side by side with many people from all walks of life with differing views. I am seeking re-election to continue this important work.

In 2011, former Sen. Olympia Snowe told me how proud she was of Maine’s Legislature; we accomplished more in a matter of months than many states had in years. Proudly, six years later, Maine is still leading the way. Maine’s income tax cuts are important to the middle class. While still high, we have been able to notch it down twice from 8.5 percent to 7.15 percent, and we exempted military pensions from state income tax.

In 2011, we faced a daunting $1.3 billion budget deficit. Since then, working together, we balanced budgets without raising taxes. We also enacted long overdue reforms (welfare, education, pension, insurance) to address problems that had been recurring for many years. The hospitals were paid $750 million in overdue debt, and we now pay them in real time, on time. Our Rainy Day Fund is also being replenished.

My personal and professional background has taught me how much hard work and sacrifice is involved in achieving goals and making progress. Affordable and responsible government is vitally important. Common sense solutions yours and mine- are making a difference. Call me with your ideas. I listen.

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