Chip Curry (D-Belfast)
Waldo County — I have lived in Waldo County for the past 18 years. Most of that time has been in Knox and Belfast although I have also lived in Unity, Thorndike and Freedom. Today I live in Belfast with my wife Chris Goosman, our young daughter and my mother-in-law. I have 20 years of experience working in the field of education and youth development. I have worked directly with students from elementary to college, and have worked on state-wide initiatives designed to increase outcomes for youth. Community service has long been an important part of my life. Currently I serve as President of the Board of the Belfast Maskers and as a Commissioner with Belfast Parks and Recreation. I also volunteer with my church, and build sets for Searsport District High School Theater.
Why are you running?
I am running for State Senate because I believe the Governor and Republican legislature are pursuing a radical conservative agenda, developed by out of state interests, which is wrong for Waldo County and the State. I know that all of the opportunities I’ve had in my life were possible because of the sacrifices made by my parents’ and grandparents’ generations. I want to make sure my daughter’s generation can grow up strong and healthy and have the opportunity to make a good life right here in Waldo County.
What government services, if any, do you feel should be privatized?
I do not know of any government services that are currently delivered by State employees that should be contracted to for profit businesses. When the state does contract to private entities we have a responsibility to maintain rigorous oversight to ensure outcomes are met.
What services do you feel need to be protected from budget cuts?
We have a duty to protect our most vulnerable. It is so sad that our Republican legislators forced through a budget that makes drastic cuts to Head Start and other early child development services. It is morally outrageous to withhold the services we know can place a child on a track toward life-long success. It is also intellectually dishonest to do so in the name of fiscal responsibility. Our failure to invest in our kids today will cost us far more in the future.
We also have a duty to honor our contracts to current and retired public servants. These people were not permitted to participate in Social Security. Their senior years are dependent upon the State honoring its commitments.
What services that are private now should be taken on by the government?
Any services that are contracted for the purpose of avoiding paying a decent wage should be reconsidered. We have a duty to be frugal with taxpayer money and we have a duty not to be exploitative to those who work on behalf of the people of Maine.
Mitt Romney has proposed kicking Medicaid costs back to the states to administer and cutting federal funds for them. Would you support this plan, and how do you think it would impact state government and taxes?
No! In Waldo County we need greater access to affordable health care, not less.
What is your position on women's health issues including insurance coverage for contraceptives and the option of having abortions to terminate unwanted pregnancies?
I believe in freedom and responsibility. Women must have the freedom to make their own health care decisions. These decisions cannot be given over to one’s boss, insurance company or court.
We have seen a push, particularly from Republicans, for more identification at the polls. What are your thoughts on balancing the need for preventing voter fraud with the need to provide access to citizens wishing to vote?
The people of Maine were correct when we repealed the Republicans law to end election-day voter registration. Mainers saw this for what it is; a Republican effort to keep people from voting. Voter fraud is a Republican manufactured issue — lacking any evidence — designed to suppress the vote.
Why aren't there more jobs?
Great question. Giving rich people tax breaks thus far hasn’t translated to anything more than rich people having more money. The reality is that our small businesses are our job creators in Waldo County and they need customers that have money. We need to focus on increasing the wages of working Mainer and strengthening our small business sector.
What would you do for those seeking to start businesses and create jobs?
We need support entrepreneurs by improving their access to business coaches and other educational opportunities. Many programs do exist; however, they are not always available when the small business leaders need them. While we have programs that support small business’s access to capital, these program need to be evaluated to ensure effectiveness.
Lastly, one of the largest and most variable expenses for small businesses is employee health insurance. Maine must take the lead in driving the cost of health insurance down to make it affordable for small businesses. Just imagine how many new small businesses would be created if the owners knew that they weren’t putting their families’ lives at risk by leaving the safe job and striking out on their own.
How would you address the challenge of providing higher education for low and middle-income young people who cannot afford college without massive loans?
I do not have a solution to this, but we absolutely need to work together to find one. Those students who do not attain some type post-secondary education have very few options for employment anymore.
How can we help Maine people transition from traditional energy sources, particularly for heat, to renewable sources?
I believe we have had a good start with programs like Efficiency Maine, which are designed to educate the public and assist homeowners in acquiring loans to significantly increase the energy efficiency of their homes. These efforts need to be objectively assessed and expanded where warranted.
What should be done to protect Maine's environment and resources? Is this issue a priority for you as a candidate?
Our environment and natural resources are central to our quality of life here in Waldo county. Not only does it drive our agricultural, hunting, recreational and tourist industries, but it is what most of us love about living here. So many of us choose to stay here, or move back here, because of our environment. At this time, I don’t have any policy positions regarding environmental protection. These are our natural resources and we rely on them. We must be their stewards and ensue their sustainability.
Do you support state government buying more land to preserve it as state parks or local farmlands?
Yes, however each parcel of land preserved must be considered individually with special attention given to the impact of the purchase on the property taxes of the community.
Where do you stand on campaign financing?
I believe that the credibility of democracy is significantly challenged by the unlimited amounts of anonymous funds dropped into the state by outside interests. Mainer’s are smart, but we can only evaluate the credibility of the messages bombarding us when we know who is behind them.
What should be done about the state's welfare programs including disability benefits, MaineCare, and substance abuse treatment subsidies?
I understand that roughly three quarters of Maine Care expenses are incurred for the disabled and the elderly in long-term care facilities. These people are the truly vulnerable, and as a moral society it is our duty to care for them.
Everyone has heard a story of someone living high on the hog, free riding on the taxpayers’ expense, and we are all outraged by these stories. What we never hear is how big a problem this is. Are the free riders 2% of those who receive assistance, or are they 50% of those who receive benefits? Obviously we need to aggressively pursue fraud wherever we find it, but it matters the scope of the problem.
I believe we need to regularly monitor these temporary support programs and assess their effectiveness in stabilizing families, protecting children, and assisting people out of poverty.
Lastly I am not sure what the best treatment is for substance abuse. The treatments I am aware of have huge expenses and moderate success rates. Unfortunately it appears we have limited options. Should we do nothing; the expenses will just be magnified through increased medical costs and increased prison and jail expenses. Given our limited and expensive responses to drug abuse, I am very much in favor of robust prevention programs.
Do you support allowing gay marriage in Maine?
Yes. I have friends who are in loving committed relationships and I believe it is right for those relationships to be recognized by the State.
How do you feel the Tea Party movement has affected local, state and federal politics and policy decisions?
I believe the Tea Party movement has made it very difficult for legislators to be statesmen. The Republican Party has become less likely to negotiate bills and more likely to pursue extreme strategies that cause gridlock.