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S. Paige Zeigler: 'Climate disruptions exist'

Favors private public partnerships to fund broadband expansion
Sep 10, 2020
Courtesy of: S. Paige Zeigler Stanley Paige Zeigler is a Democrat in the Maine House of Representatives running for reelection in District 96.

Stanley Paige Zeigler is a Democrat in the Maine House of Representatives running for reelection in District 96, which encompasses Belmont, Liberty, Lincolnville, Montville, Morrill, Palermo and Searsmont.

First elected in 2016, this would be Zeigler’s third term in the House. Now retired, he spent 35 years as a Merchant Marine officer, and has said he “worked in every ocean and traveled to every continent.” He has also been a teacher, a logger and a night counselor at a drug rehab center.

He currently serves on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee in the Legislature.

We recorded a Zoom interview with Zeigler Aug. 25, in which he said initially he had been looking for an opportunity to become involved in his community, and it was not until he retired from the Merchant Marines about six years ago that he “got a fast dip into public service.”

He joined the Unity Area Regional Recycling Center board the day he retired, then three weeks later he became a Regional School Unit 3 school board representative for his hometown of Montville.

After freshman Democratic Rep. Christine Burstein of Lincolnville did not seek reelection to a second term, Zeigler said he did not even mull it over before he decided to run. “I work with some of the brightest people working on policy,” he said, and added that the experience has been “incredibly interesting.”

Pandemic

Zeigler takes the coronavirus pandemic seriously, saying the death toll associated with COVID-19 is three times the number killed in combat in Vietnam, which was over a 10-year period. “It is (currently) the third leading cause of death in the U.S.,” he said.

Maine has fared well compared to the rest of the country, he noted, because of its commonsense approach to dealing with the pandemic. “We look at models that work,” he said, and added that the use of masks and physical distancing has worked in slowing the spread of the disease.

“We can make this less sacrificial to people,” he said, “if we work together.”

Police

He believes the state should fund mental health services which the police end up providing.

“Police don’t need to be called up at 3 a.m. to go pick up somebody who is having a mental crisis to take them to the emergency room,” Zeigler said.

There was a bill in the House that dealt with mental health “hubs” that would be available 24-7. “We have to fund these things,” he said. “That’s not defunding the police, that is fully funding our mental health system.

"We need a community police that is inclusive of everyone in the community," he said. “It boils down to almost all policing is local, and communities need to talk to their police and work on these issues. If we make it an ‘us vs. them’ thing, there is no conversation.”

Economy

Zeigler said Maine must develop a stronger infrastructure, including expanded broadband internet, which would help expand the economy. “Most companies need that and have to have that,” he said.

There is also a need to develop the state's workforce, he said. Having students who want to go to college take college-level courses while in high school is important, and so is strengthening the technical schools, and providing internship opportunities for those students.

Tax relief

Zeigler is not a proponent of allowing local sales taxes, saying they wouldn’t generate as much revenue in smaller towns as in larger cities. “You would be paying more for the same products,” he said. State sales tax, Zeigler said, should be divided equally among all towns and cities in the state.

Climate change

After seeing firsthand how ice cores taken from the bottom of the ocean near Greenland showed the rapid change that is occurring, Zeigler said he was convinced climate change is real.

He has worked on a green bill that would help jump-start development of renewable energy sources, including electricity to heat homes and power cars, and would also upgrade the grid infrastructure.

Maine is poised to be the Saudi Arabia of the U.S., Zeigler said. With the potential of offshore wind generators combined with solar, the state can produce far more than it can use, “and we could start sending it out. Maine is really in a sweet spot.”

Zeigler also spoke of the green bank bill he worked on, which gives renters an option to buy into solar farm electricity, “so they could control their own energy production,” he said.

Abortion

“I support a woman’s right to choose and to make the decision in regards to her own body,” Zeigler said.

It is one of the hardest decisions, he said, contemplating what to do with an unwanted pregnancy. A woman in this position needs to hear about all her options, a service that agencies such as Planned Parenthood and others provide. He noted that Planned Parenthood provides many more services than just abortion, including prenatal care, and offers information about contraception.

If a woman decides to have the child, society benefits so much by making sure she had really good prenatal care, he said.

Guns

Zeigler said he received his first rifle from his father when he was 12. “It was a single bolt-action .22,” he said. “I was very happy with the single shot, because I had to pay for the bullets.”

He said his father taught him to respect the rifle as a “tool,” and he used it for sports and target shooting and hunting.

“There’s nothing that teaches you how quick life can be extinguished by a firearm,” he said. “When you hear ricochets going off all around you, it’s not a pleasant feeling.”

As a firearm owner, Zeigler said he has no problem with a three-day waiting period.

“One thing that upsets me,” he said, “is the reason they don’t want to register semi-automatic weapons is they don’t trust the government.

“What kind of country are we becoming if we are frightened of the rule of law?” Zeigler asked. “If we can’t trust our government, that is the most worrisome to me.”

Schools

Zeigler said there is a need to change the way people think about education, in that there are other avenues besides a four-year degree as a pathway to success. There are very good technical high schools, he said. Students should get credit for work they have put in while in high school and also should be introduced to possible vocational careers earlier, while in middle school.

A collaboration with the university system would allow students to take college courses in high school and complete their undergraduate work in three years. Similarly, Zeigler said, vocational high schools should be tied in with technical colleges that will accept college credits earned in high school.

He doesn’t believe paying for education should come at the expense of higher property taxes. “We haven’t fully funded education because we are using property taxes,” he said. “And that is not a good way to go forward to pay for education costs.”

Broadband internet

Zeigler has been in a broadband caucus for four years that has looked at private-public partnerships.

“Because we are a rural state and unless there is a profit, private companies are not going to lay fiber optics,” he said. “They are not going to go into those rural areas unless there is an incentive.”

He compared broadband expansion to the introduction of light rail in the state, where private companies did not get involved until it was financed publicly. “People started moving in and it started communities,” he said.

“Like Lincolnville Center or Liberty, young people want to move in, they want community centers,” he said. “How do you get that? With jobs. And how do you get jobs? You get them with broadband. ... This is imperative for Maine to grow."

In closing, Zeigler said he is very proud to be in the Maine Legislature and proud of the work he has done. He thanked the people in his district for allowing him to serve them.

Election 2020 - Stanley Paige Zeigler - Candidate: Maine House District #96
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