Jonathan Fulford grew up fishing in ponds and tromping through woods. His dad was a teacher and his mom raised their six kids. Some of his favorite memories are visiting his grandparents’ dairy farm where they raised cows, pigs and potatoes. Jonathan started working at 8-years-old with a paper route, babysitting, and mowing lawns, earning enough money to buy his first Mitchell 300 fishing reel. As a teenager, Jonathan was drawn to the farming life of his grandparents, working on dairy farms, orchards and as a carpenter.

After graduating high school, he started a vegetable farm and fruit tree nursery with his brother in Monroe. After marrying and having his first child, the struggles of supporting his family by farming led him to focus more on carpentry. He started his first building partnership in the late '80s. He spent the next 25 years raising children and building houses.

Jonathan, a Democrat, lives in Monroe with his wife Chris in a house he built. He continues to run Artisan Builders in partnership with his son and his step-daughter. His two stepsons have continued the family passion for farming, starting North Branch Farm in Monroe with their families. Jonathan’s life has been defined by his commitment to his family and his community, his love of the outdoors, and his entrepreneurial spirit.

Why are you running for office?

I have children and grandchildren. I am committed to seeing that the world they grow up in will be one that is full of hope and possibilities. There are many problems that we face today that need solutions and action that will require the involvement of state government to be successful. I want to be part of creating that future.

What is the greatest challenge facing the state of Maine?

Discouragement and divisiveness are the greatest challenges we need to overcome. Times have been hard and when I talk with the people of Waldo County there is a common thread of deep concern for the future. There are many problems that we need to find creative solutions for, which will require collaboration and a commitment to work together.

In an online poll, our readers repeatedly raised concerns that lawmakers spend too much time fighting along political party lines and cannot seem to cooperate across party lines to get the business of the state done. Can you describe an issue in which you disagree with your political party? Can you describe a situation or an issue in which you would be willing to compromise or work with members of the other party?

I will work to have the 55-percent of state support to the schools passed, which has not been supported by all Democrats. I am willing and eager to work with any and all legislators to come up with solutions to the issues we face regardless of party affiliation. There should be areas around support for small business, farms, environmental protections, reducing waste and fraud, education, and jobs growth that can be supported across party lines.

Many argue that cuts in state aid to education, roads, revenue sharing for towns and other areas have shifted more tax burden onto local property taxpayers. What do you see as the reason for increases in local property taxes? What would you do as a candidate to address the property tax burden?

The 2-percent income tax cut in 2011 was primarily paid for by reducing the revenue sharing to the towns and the reduction in state support for the schools. This tax cut, which disproportionately benefited the wealthy, led to a massive property tax increase and pitted neighbor against neighbor, town against town. As a result, most Mainers saw their total taxes go up if you consider their income and property taxes combined. The schools must have the full 55 percent of funding that was passed twice by voter referendum, as well as restoring the full 70 percent of revenue sharing with the towns.

How can we afford quality education for Maine's children and balance that need with the burden faced by taxpayers?

The past 30-plus years have seen an increase of the tax burden on the middle class and working class. At the same time, the very wealthy have paid less and less to the point where they are paying an effective tax rate of under 15 percent while the middle class pay 30 percent. This experiment with “trickle-down economics” has had a disastrous effect on our economy and our society. If we want to have a quality education system, a thriving economy, an environment that is healthy and safe, then we must share the tax burden fairly, that means that the wealthy must pay their fair share.

What is your position on expanding health care for the uninsured? How should that be addressed?

The expansion of Mainecare is a necessary step in addressing the healthcare needs of all Maine families. The present healthcare system, while an improvement, is still not the universal health care that is needed for our state and nation to prosper and the health and well-being of all our people to be met.

What, if anything, would you change about welfare programs in the state of Maine?

The WPA and the CCC at the end of the Depression were interesting programs where people were given a good-paying job on projects that benefited our society. These projects included rural electrification, building roads and building post offices. Today we have the challenges of climate change, energy independence, and improving infrastructure. We also have lots of people who are unemployed or under-employed. This is an opportunity waiting for a creative solution.

Would you favor raising the minimum wage? To what level?

I am in favor of raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10/hour.

What policies would you favor to encourage business and job growth? How do we balance the needs of the business community with the need for labor and environmental protections and taxes to fund public services?

The interests of business and job growth are often the same as the interests of labor, environmental protection, and a stable society that has well-funded public services. For example, the expansion of Mainecare is good for our economy. Supporting solar installations and heat pumps is good for job growth and builds a stronger, more resilient economy less vulnerable to fluctuations of energy costs.