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Duncan Milne: Maine must expand jobs, build middle class

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Sep 03, 2020
Duncan Milne, a retired Marine Corps colonel, is the Republican candidate for Maine Senate District 11.

Duncan Milne is the Republican candidate for Maine Senate District 11, which represents Waldo County. The retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel is running against Democrat Glenn "Chip" Curry for the seat being vacated by Erin Herbig, now city manager of Belfast.

Originally from Cape Elizabeth, he and his wife now live in Liberty, and he is president of the Dixon Center, which advocates in local communities for programs to benefit veterans, working with public and private organizations.

In the Corps, Milne at one point led as many as 40,000 Marines and sailors. Working under good military leaders allowed him to learn good leadership skills, he told The Republican Journal in an interview earlier this year. Public service is in his DNA, he said, and just because he retired did not mean he stopped wanting to serve.

In that interview he said he wants to reduce both taxes and regulations, especially regulations that apply to businesses. He said there are too many regulations standing in the way of a strong economy.

“They’re regulating this or regulating that. It’s just not a fertile environment for business,” he said. “So, when you combine that with all these tax increases and program expansion, who’s going to be the bill payer for that down the road? Because there’s going to be a bill to be paid.”

Milne would like to see more emphasis on career and technical education, rather than having all students attend a four-year college from which they will emerge with few marketable skills and a large debt.

There are industries in Maine looking for skilled workers, he said, but the state does not have enough of them. “There are so many opportunities for people to get skills and training and jobs that are high-wage jobs in this state right now,” he said,citing Bath Iron Works as an example.

We recorded a Zoom interview with Milne Aug. 13, in which he said he sees his life as "a journey of service," and that he is running for state Senate because he wants to serve Waldo County.

Pandemic

Milne said in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic Maine must "rebuild a resilient economy that we didn't have before COVID hit." He said Gov. Janet Mills should have consulted with more stakeholders at the outset of the pandemic and that the state should not be in a state of emergency as of mid-August.

Policing

He said the country is going through a period of self-questioning about the role of police and how they should be trained.

"'Defunding' is a bad phrase to use, I think." Instead, we should focus on retraining law enforcement officers, Milne said, and he would like first responders, including emergency medical technicians, to have more funding. He added that it is important to have law and order, that peaceful protests must not be allowed to turn into rioting and looting.

Maine economy

He said Maine has a lot of very wealthy people and a lot of poor people, but it needs to develop "a strong middle-class tax base built on resilient jobs."

He said the state's excessive regulations and too-high taxes keep businesses from wanting to locate here.

Taxes

On how to bring property tax relief to Maine residents, Milne said, "We can't have all the services that we want ... just because we want them." We must make basic services like public safety and education priorities, he said, and find a way to make property taxes fairer for older residents who no longer have children in the schools. In his earlier interview with The Journal, Milne mentioned the plight of his mother, who he said was taxed out of two houses in the Portland area after property tax increases made it impossible to stay in homes she owned at two different times.

Regarding allowing municipalities to create local sales taxes to recoup some of the money they spend to provide services, he said, "I'm generally against any taxes without an offset in some other arena." He added that he would have to consider such a tax on a case-by-case basis before deciding whether to support it.

Climate change

Milne said Maine's environment was one of the reasons he returned from 25 years' service in the Marine Corps to settle in his home state. He said there must be a balance between economics and environmental concerns, though he agreed the two are not necessarily opposed. On this, and other important questions facing our state and nation, he said, "We have to have adult conversations."

Abortion

Regarding women's reproductive rights, he said, "I can't begin to understand what a woman goes through when she has to make that decision, to take the life of an unborn child." He added that he is against "the industrialization of abortion through taxpayer funds and organizations like Planned Parenthood." He said the world could be missing out on "the next Einstein" by allowing a fetus to be aborted.

Guns

On regulation of firearms and ammunition, he said, "I support the Second Amendment. I think we have enough restrictions on guns. I think the laws we have need to be enforced."

Education

Milne said a four-year college education, while it used to be viewed as the route to upward mobility, is not always the right fit for today's high school graduates, often leaving them with few marketable skills and a lot of debt.

He advocated increasing opportunities for apprenticeships and training in the trades, calling it "a very, very viable and worthwhile path," and something Maine should encourage and promote. He said training programs could be built by businesses, trade organizations and community organizations and "enabled" by the government.

Broadband

Milne expressed support for increasing Maine residents' access to broadband internet. "I think broadband is great ... but I think the market really has to determine that." Government funding is slow, he said, and private industry will determine where it is profitable to provide service.

In conclusion

Milne closed saying that he thinks Waldo County and Maine have a real challenge to get back to being places where most people "wobble toward the middle," instead of being starkly polarized along political lines. He said we need more balance and more willingness to hear each other out.

"Just because you disagree with me doesn't mean you're a bad person."

Duncan Milne: Maine must expand jobs, build middle class
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