Joe Brooks spent six years serving in the Maine House of Representatives. Now, he’s asking voters to send him back to Augusta to finish the work he started, and to tackle the latest problems Maine is facing.

Brooks hopes to represent House District 42, which includes the towns of Brooks, Jackson, Monroe, Swanville, Waldo and Winterport. Brooks is running a three-way race against Peter Rioux, a Republican from Winterport, and Kenneth John Cole, a Green independent from Monroe.

Joe Brooks

• Town of residence: Winterport

• Party affiliation: Democrat

• Occupation: Retired journalist

• Previous elective or appointive office: Served in the 118th, 119th and 120th legislatures, on Winterport budget committee, Planning Board, and as current chairman of the Winterport Town Council.

• Clean elections candidate: Yes

Brooks said he had had a desire to continue his work in Augusta since his third term ended with the close of the second session of the 120th legislature.

“I’m running again because it got in my blood during my previous three terms,” he said, adding that his prior work at the Augusta office of the Bangor Daily News gave him the skills he needed to work effectively during his time in the House.

The most important issues the Legislature is facing, said Brooks, is eliminating the state’s budget deficit.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to fund it and try to resolve that,” he said. “We have to work towards a more balanced budget.”

When asked how the Legislature should ensure that the state’s pension obligations will be met, Brooks said it will be a matter of solving the problem now, as well as setting up a plan for the future, so that the pension fund will be there for future state employees.

“That money was taken during the [Gov. John] McKernan era, and it’s in the millions,” he said. “We owe that pot of money, and we have been paying some of it back, but there’s a law on the books that says it must be repaid.”

Brooks suggested repaying the fund bit by bit, and said the Legislature should seek out ways of keeping the fund at a healthy level for years to come, even after the economy has improved.

“We need to figure out a way to become more frugal, and not just in the bad times,” he said.

On attracting new jobs and growing existing businesses, Brooks said it all begins with education, and funding it at a level that will give students a good foundation for moving on to higher education.

Deregulation, he said, is also critical to attracting well-paid jobs.

Brooks recalled a conversation he’d had with a welder who said he refused to move any part of his business to Maine because this state imposed so many regulations on businesses.

“Our tax structure is not business-friendly, either,” he said.

The budget shortfall will be a painful problem to address, said Brooks, and every area of the budget will likely need to be scrutinized to find potential savings.

Brooks said he would not support increased taxes, or the continued shifting of costs from the state to municipalities, such as the reductions in recent years of revenue-sharing and the homestead exemption. Brooks said he would fight for municipalities to ensure that every city and town “gets their fair share” of state funding.

Brooks is optimistic when it comes to looking at ways that the state might proceed with regard to industrial wind and other forms of alternative energy.

“I think eventually we’ll find a way, I hope, to break the ties that bind us to OPEC,” said Brooks.

With respect to communities that have expressed the desire to either restrict or ban industrial wind power through the creation of ordinances, Brooks said the choice of hosting such developments should be up to municipalities.

That being said, Brooks said that there had been fewer complaints coming out of Mars Hill recently regarding the wind turbines there, and that perhaps many of the complaints were due to the newness of the development.

“When you first move next to a highway, that’s all you hear,” he said. “But eventually, you don’t really hear it anymore.”

Maine should also work to encourage the development of other types of alternative energy production, particularly tidal and hydropower, he said.

On education funding, Brooks said the state’s funding formula, known as Essential Programs and Services, should be examined each year to ensure that it stays up to date.

“I am a firm supporter of keeping our education system strong, from K-12 and beyond that,” he said.

Education will not likely be funded by the state at 55 percent, said Brooks, because it has never followed through with that mandate in the past.

“I think it’s a goal that we need to be working towards, and wouldn’t I love to be able to see it,” he said.

On Maine’s efforts to make medical care accessible to all residents, Brooks said while the state had good intentions with Dirigo Health, the program did not live up to expectations.

“It has demonstrated that we’re too small here in Maine and that the pool isn’t large enough,” he said.

Reeling in the deficit from MaineCare is another priority, said Brooks, and measures should be enacted to prevent Maine from engaging in “the deficit-producing policies of the past.”

“It’s a sad state, there are thousands and thousands of people in Maine who have no insurance, and that’s a death waiting to happen, especially for seniors and people in high-risk populations,” he said.

Social services have been on the minds of Mainers this election season, and Brooks said any service provided by the state should review its eligibility requirements often. Comparing requirements to those of other states would be a step in that direction, Brooks said.

Brooks would also like to see a greater focus on getting people back into the workforce.

“It’s taxpayer money that we’re spending, and we need accountability,” he said.