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Cuddy seeks to continue work on lowering property taxes

By Kendra Caruso | Oct 02, 2020
Courtesy of: Scott Cuddy House District 98 Democratic incumbent Scott Cuddy hopes to win a second term.

Winterport — Scott Cuddy, D-Winterport, is running for a second term representing House District 98 to finish his work addressing issues related to high property taxes, he said.

The incumbent is running against Republican challenger Jessica Connor of Searsport, to represent Frankfort, Searsport, Swanville and Winterport.

He is a member of the Labor and Housing Committee, and was previously involved with Winterport Little League, Northeast Workforce Development Board and Maine Ocean School’s Finance Committee. He said he is proud to have helped pass a bill that guarantees 85% of Maine workers five paid vacation days per year.

An electrician by trade, Cuddy said he initially sought election because of rising property taxes and the burden they place on homeowners in his district and statewide. He bought the house he grew up in six years ago. Owning his childhood home was always a goal of Cuddy's, but he was unsure if he would ever have the opportunity because of Maine’s poor economic climate.

Pandemic

Maine is taking a lot of the right measures to fight the coronavirus, he said. He thinks Gov. Mills and Maine Center for Disease and Prevention and Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah have done a good job shepherding the state through the outbreak.

The federal government should relax regulations regarding how coronavirus money is spent so it can be used to offset some budgetary needs in the state that have resulted from the virus, he said.

Police

The national discussion regarding police brutality is necessary, he said, but he does not agree with taking funds away from law enforcement agencies.

Police officers are facing situations they are untrained for, so he would like to see more funding for expanding emergency personnel, like social workers, who can respond to calls received by emergency dispatchers.

“If we were to be funding more social workers — if we were to be funding more programs that actually help people who are in tough times,” he said, “that would take a lot of the load off of police and they would be able to do things that they are trained to do, right from the get-go.”

Economy

Maine’s economy is primarily small businesses, Cuddy said, and he thinks a lot of time has been spent trying to lure big businesses to the state. But he thinks there should be more incubators that help small businesses grow.

Investing in renewable energy will expand Maine’s economy and add well-paying jobs, he said. “If we were installing solar at the rate we really ought to be, we would have nothing but Maine people working on these projects,” he said. “You can’t outsource a job in solar installation to Mexico, to China or to anywhere else. You have to do it right here.”

Taxes

During the administrations of Govs. Baldacci and LePage, revenue-sharing dropped as low as 2%, he said. It is an important source of funding for municipalities and it has a direct effect on lowering property taxes, so he is satisfied that the state is giving a higher amount back to towns.

Another important relief measure for taxpayers is general purpose aid to education, which requires the state to pay 55% of public school costs to each district, he said. This goal has never been met by the state and he thinks meeting it should be more of a priority.

A local sales tax option is only viable for cities like Portland or Bangor, he said. He voted in favor of the initiative, but thinks it is not something smaller towns would make use of. Rising property taxes are tied to property sale prices, so it is a market-based problem and solutions to it are difficult to find.

Climate change

While he acknowledges Maine’s air and water quality have improved, climate change remains a threat, he said. Incentivizing clean energy infrastructure will help address the issue.

“We clearly see that global warming is a real problem and that it’s something we have to address rapidly,” he said. “Every year that we wait is another year lost to address this problem, and the solutions then become that much more dire.”

He would like to see something similar to a publicly owned utility, where the profits can be reinvested into energy infrastructure instead of sent to an out-of-state business, he said. Publicly owned utilities tend to have lower prices and are more reliable, according to Cuddy.

Abortion

He said he supports a woman’s right to choose, but would like to provide more support to mothers who feel they are not in a financial position to have a child. He does not want financial constraints, like child care and food insecurity, to be reasons that women decide to have an abortion.

Guns

Cuddy said he supports universal background checks on firearm sales to make sure the buyer is legally allowed to own one. But he would also like to see a red flag law put in place.

Red flag laws allow courts and law enforcement agencies to temporarily seize guns from people who are at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, he said. People close to the gun owner in question could express their concern to the state as a means to more effectively address gun safety issues individually.

Education

Becoming a union electrician was not a career Cuddy saw himself pursuing in high school, but he said it was the best decision of his working life. He would like to see more promotion of and funding for trade schools.

He does not regret getting a bachelor's degree because it lets people know that he has the capacity to think critically. “My father told me once that by getting a liberal arts degree what you’re going to have is a piece of paper that tells you that your brain is on,” he said.

Broadband

Cuddy said he supports the $15 million broadband bond that was approved by voters in July, but it is not enough money to cover the whole state. He is frustrated that the need for broadband is not being addressed and supports expanding its availability throughout the state.

“Right now, when working from home is the way people are doing things,” he said, “when educating people from home is the way people are doing things, there are so many people in our state that do not have access to broadband.”

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