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Senate District 11

Curry stresses education, economic fairness

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jun 08, 2020
Courtesy of: Chip Curry Glenn "Chip" Curry is one of three Democrats competing for their party's nomination in Senate District 11.

Belfast — Glenn "Chip" Curry said his work as coordinator of student services at University of Maine Augusta's Rockland Center has influenced his desire to run for state Senate in District 11, representing Waldo County. "It's pretty darn hard here in Waldo County," for people like the adult students he advises, and he wants to increase opportunities for county residents, the Belfast Democrat said.

Curry said the first thing on his priority list if voters send him to Augusta is to "get us through this pandemic." He noted that individuals and small businesses in the county have undergone "tremendous stress," and said it is important to make them whole, as much as possible, and to help them get the health care they need.

His second priority is to bring the resources of Maine's community college system to Waldo County, perhaps through the Hutchinson Center, to make career education much more accessible. Most of those Curry works with at UMA are adults seeking to change careers or advance in their profession, he said, and he would like to make it easier for county residents to take advantage of community college offerings.

He also thinks the state university system can help boost the county's economy, not only with career education and workforce training, but also through research and development, an area where he said Maine lags behind other rural states. He would like to see the state allocate more funding to R&D.

On his campaign website, Curry advocates for the development of renewable energy in Maine, not only to reduce the state's dependence on fossil fuels, but also to create new industries that will provide well-paid jobs for its residents. He said the experts he talks to say Maine has all the natural resources it needs to meet its own energy requirements. He acknowledged the need to have "hard conversations" about the location of renewable energy faculties, such as offshore wind turbines or large solar installations, but added, "We're going to have to figure it out."

Regarding taxes, he said it is important to balance them with business incentives. He would use economic modeling and look at the experience of other states to see what has worked. "I care a lot," he said, "about our safety net programs. I care a lot about quality education." He said a strong economy is essential in order to be able to invest in our social safety net, education and other programs that enhance people's quality of life.

Asked whether he would advocate for the state to pay 55% of primary and secondary education costs, as mandated by law, he said he would. "Property taxes are a big concern of mine," he said, "and fairness in education."

Regarding the state budget shortfall that has resulted from the COVID-19 shutdown, he said the state would either have to ask for significant federal aid, make "really painful" cuts in the budget, or, possibly, some of each. With the difficulty of predicting what will happen in the next few months, he said, it is hard to know the best way to restart the economy. If the country falls into a depression, he said, he would favor the creation of work programs similar to those developed during the 1930s.

Asked how he would distinguish himself from the other two Democrats vying to face Republican Duncan Milne in November, Curry said he had only met Robyn Stanicki and Charles Pattavina a couple of times.

"My focus is on Waldo County," he said. "I'm not interested in the national political fights."

Curry and his wife, Christi, have lived in Waldo County for 25 years and have a teenage daughter. He has not previously held elective office, though he ran for state Senate in District 23 in 2012. According to his website, he has served on the Maine Legislative Taskforce on Quality Afterschool Programming, the Maine Commission for Community Service, and the Blaine House Conference on Volunteerism, as well as the Governor's Children's Cabinet.

In addition, he is a member of the Belfast Curling Club and the Northport Golf Club, and has supported many local organizations like Our Town Belfast, Belfast Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Belfast Maskers in volunteer and leadership roles over the years. For the past 24 years he has also volunteered as a set builder for Searsport District High School’s Theater Department. Curry currently serves as chair of the Maine Community Foundation's Waldo County Fund, and co-chair of the UMA Professional Employees Association.

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