As a member of the local community and a high school teacher in the nearby town of Readfield, I appreciate living in Farmington, a place that has both hard-working citizens and the community resources to keep citizens here. Organizations such as Western Mountains Alliance, the Franklin County Community College Network, Western Maine Community Action, the Greater Franklin Development Corporation, the Maine Woods Consortium, and Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community help to provide community supports to an area that largely depends upon tourism and seasonal employment.
Aside from an economy that is very much at the mercy of influences such as tourism, a real estate bubble, and a bubble on Wall Street, there are problems with the infrastructure of Maine regional areas. The cost of building a large number of schools and maintaining a huge network of roads and bridges is taking its toll on Maine taxpayers. Numerous bond issues come before voters to increase individual property and other taxes to levels that can often be stifling. Yet we need infrastructure improvement.
Citizens of Maine struggle to succeed, as we are 35th in per capita income in the U.S., with energy costs 38 percent higher than the national average. (Data from the Maine Development Foundation) To me, this is possible indication of one reason Karen Gordon Mills was chosen to head President-Elect Obama’s Commission on Small Business. It is very hard to successfully run a small business here, yet many people here are successful through shrewd decision-making and hard work. Mrs. Mills, a Maine native, is one example of such a talented individual who understands small business and will be helpful on the president-elect’s economic team.
The Downtown Farmington Business and Professional Association estimates that there are 550 people employed at roughly 120 businesses in the Farmington downtown. I think that smart growth will occur here without the “sprawl” that plagues other areas due to the work of county commissioners and a responsible town government. But it will be expensive due to the fact that things are spread out, especially in this part of Maine.
It is not merely the fault of the government in Augusta and a Democratic Governor that things are this way, although this is often the most common reason cited for a high tax burden and perennially poor roads. We live in a very large state for the number of people that reside here, and as a result have an enormous infrastructure that costs us millions of dollars to maintain, and improving it is also expensive.
Taxpayers in Maine simply pay an enormous amount to live the way we do. (Data from the Maine Development Foundation) I am an advocate for increasing the amount of public transportation in the state, as it will help cut energy costs and enhance our way of life. What we can’t afford are the troubled policies of the past.
I support the work of Attorney General Janet Mills, former state representative for District 89. If elected to the position, I will vote with the same dedication to local issues Attorney General Mills has demonstrated as an effective voice for our area and presence in our community.