House District 131 draws newcomer, past representative

By Stephanie Grinnell | Oct 10, 2018

A political newcomer is hoping the first time is a charm as she campaigns for the House District 131 seat to represent Orland, Dedham, Otis, Penobscot, Verona Island, Prospect and Stockton Springs.

Nathalie Arruda of Orland, a Democrat, said she’s been involved in the political landscape for years but has never held an elected position. She said she opted to join the race because “It’s an incredibly important job.” Through her previous efforts working with campaigns, Arruda said she feels she has the ability and understanding of how the job works.

“Reaching out to representatives can be highly effective,” she said.

Arruda said it is important to her to reach people without forcing them to come to her, so she’s been knocking on doors and attending a range of community events to “go where the people are.” She said the No. 1 concern of those people — seven of 10 — is health care, for a variety of reasons.

Education funding, approved at 55 percent by voters in 2004, has yet to be funded, Arruda said, adding the closest budget was in 2009, and currently, schools are being funded by the state at around 47 percent.

“It transfers the burden to municipalities and places the burden on property taxes,” she said. “There’s a heavy burden and we can’t keep putting it on property owners.”

Possible funding sources could be income tax or sales tax, Arruda said.

“I think it needs to come out of that pool,” she said, noting an equal amount of money has gone to the general fund that could have fully funded the state’s share in recent years.

Addiction can’t be treated in the criminal justice system, Arruda said; it should be treated within the health care system. She said recovering addicts need support and care that isn’t provided in penal institutions. Options beyond replacement therapy — also known as medication-assisted treatment — need to be explored, she said, to help addicts get clean and stay clean.

Reliable access to internet is another problem Arruda hopes to address. She said Penobscot town officials have been communicating with other municipalities to explore options.

“The problem is, there’s no financial incentive for companies to expand into rural areas,” she said, adding the people in the district “are some of the hardest-working folks I’ve ever met,” who don’t expect extra perks, only adequate access.

Arruda noted she is a Clean Elections candidate, which “reminds me who I am accountable to.”

Also vying for the position — left open by the withdrawal of incumbent Rep. Karl Ward, R-Dedham — is Republican candidate Sherman Hutchins of Penobscot.

Ward has endorsed Hutchins, who has previously served in the House of Representatives.

No contact information beyond a mailing address could be found for Hutchins, and repeated messages to his campaign Facebook page were seen but received no response. The Republican Journal has compiled the following information from various reports published in area news media in recent years.

A Maine native, Hutchins graduated from Southern Maine Technical College in South Portland. He owned and operated a construction business for some 25 years before his retirement.

According to a June 28 Castine Patriot story, Hutchins served in the Maine House for one term over 25 years ago, and ran against Ralph Chapman, G-Brooksville, in 2012 for District 37, before the legislative districts were redrawn in 2014.

According to a 2012 story in The Ellsworth American, he served as a Penobscot selectman for 11 years, nine of them as board chairman. He also has sat on the executive board of the Hancock County Planning Commission.

For over 25 years, Hutchins has been a town meeting moderator for Penobscot, Orland, Otis, Lucerne and Dedham. “I’m probably as familiar with the workings of those towns if I lived in each one,” he told the Castine Patriot. “I’ve seen how the people vote on issues in those towns.”

For the last several years, Hutchins has been buildings and grounds manager for the Wilson Museum in Castine, where his wife Patricia is executive director.

In a letter Ward sent to constituents in June about his withdrawal from the race, he wrote of Hutchins, his handpicked successor: "Like myself, he believes in voting your conscience over his own, eschewing PAC, lobbyist or taxpayer campaign funding, and will donate a portion of his legislative salary to the same causes I have supported with mine.

"These things are no coincidence. I got my inspiration from this wonderful past legislator, The Hon. Sherm Hutchins. And if you thought I did a good job, you will also approve the job he will do as your next state representative."

 

 

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Stephanie Grinnell
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Stephanie is editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. She previously served as editor of Camden Herald following its return in April 2012.

Stephanie also was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has nearly a decade of experience in the newspaper business ranging from southern and central Maine to Waldo County.

Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.

Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and chickens.

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