Ryan Harmon has heard from his prospective constituents that times are tough, and he’s hoping they’ll chose him to take their message to Augusta.

“One of the more important things I’ve found, among the people I talk with, is that they are living paycheck to paycheck,” said the Palermo resident. “Next week, they could be on food stamps.”

Ryan Harmon

• Town of residence: Palermo

• Party affiliation: Republican

• Occupation: Entrepreneur, working in online investing and lawn care

• Previous elective or appointive office: Palermo budget committee

• Clean elections candidate: Yes

Harmon is the Republican nominee for the House District 45 seat, which encompasses the western Waldo County towns of Burnham, Freedom, Knox, Montville, Palermo, Thorndike, Troy and Unity. His Democratic opponent is Helen Sahadi of Thorndike.

In 2006, Harmon was also the Republican nominee in District 45. He lost to Democrat John Piotti in the general election that fall. Some people asked him to run for office again, Harmon said, and earlier this year he decided to take their advice after he talked it over with his family. He said this election was all about listening to what people have to say.

In June 2010, Harmon bested two other Republican challengers (both from Palermo) in the primary election — Harmon received 606 votes, while Peter Sheff got 312 and Paul Cowing had 145 votes.

Harmon sees the state budget, and the projected $1 billion revenue shortfall, as the biggest issue the Legislature will have to deal with in the coming session. He said tax raises were not an option at all.

“That would only hurt small businesses, local farms and families in my community,” he said. Harmon pledged not to support any tax or spending increase if he was elected.

To address the budget, Harmon said legislators would have to instead make cuts. Though he admitted he was currently “on the outside looking in,” he said he believed there were likely cuts that could be made to bureaucracy in two particular departments: education and health and human services.

“We need to take a look at consultants and middle management positions,” said Harmon. He made it a point to say he would never support cutting teaching positions.

On the subject of funding for local schools, Harmon said he wanted to see the system restructured. Consolidation, which he said he had opposed from the beginning, has not delivered the savings its supporters said it would. Instead, some local schools have been closed as a result of the restructuring.

What Harmon wants to see, instead, is a system where local communities that want to have their own local school can meet and come up with a “reasonable budget.” That budget would then be submitted to the state, and if it was approved there, the state would fund 55 percent of the approved budget.

Harmon said this would ensure that the state was fulfilling its obligation to pick up 55 percent of the tab for local education costs, which it currently is not doing.

As far as ensuring that there are jobs available for students once they graduate, and for others in the job market, Harmon said the state should make sure there aren’t excessive regulations or other types of red tape in place that might discourage businesses from coming to Maine.

Harmon said that would also serve to help existing businesses that might be looking to expand. He said he has heard from some business owners who feel those obstacles do exist today, and he said Augusta had not done a good job listening to those concerns and acting on them. Asked to cite specific regulations or examples of red tape, Harmon said it varied, depending on the particular type of business.

Another area where Harmon feels the state has put too many regulations in place is health insurance. He said state regulations have narrowed the field of health insurers to only a couple of choices, both of which are rather costly. He said health insurance should be treated the same as car insurance, where people can buy policies across state lines. He said Maine also should work with the federal government on the issue.

One area where Harmon would like to see more regulation is public-assistance programs. He said the state should have a residency requirement for those seeking any kind of assistance, and while some have suggested a residency requirement of 90 days, Harmon said he would consider a period of one year before people who move to Maine could get any kind of government assistance.

“We need to make sure the qualifications are a little more demanding,” he said.

Regarding Maine’s failure to fully fund its pension system for retired state employees, Harmon said the Legislature should make sure existing obligations were honored. However, Harmon said benefits for new employees may have to be changed. He did not suggest a specific way they might be changed, but said all options should be explored.

Addressing the subject of industrial wind power, Harmon said he believed in local control — that if a town wants to approve an ordinance regulating or restricting industrial-scale wind projects, it should have the right to do so.

Wind is generally a clean source of energy, Harmon said, but projects often require numerous turbines and a lot of infrastructure that can alter the environment. He said all available energy resources should be looked at, including hydroelectric power and solar, and decisions should be made based on what is most cost-effective.

Another priority for Harmon, if elected, is working to support local farms, which he said were vital to the local economy. Farms support numerous other businesses and industries, and if the farms are gone, the rest will go too, he said.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” he said.

Overall, Harmon said, his main goal as a legislator would be to understand the issues affecting his constituents and to bring their concerns to Augusta.

“For me, it’s about listening to the people in my community,” he said. “It’s not about me. I’m not here to prove myself. I’m here to listen.”