Mark Dion’s Questionnaire

Your name: MARK N DION
Your social media sites: FACEBOOK / BERRY & DION LLC

Money & Government

1. What are your 3 top accomplishments that are relevant to serving in the Maine Legislature? If you have already been in political office, cite at least one accomplishment from your time in service.

  1. Served 12 years as Cumberland County Sheriff advocating for substance abuse treatment, mental health issues and the right to access medicinal marijuana; continued that work in the House.
  2. Challenged the private business conduct of the State Treasurer on constitutional grounds and secured a bi partisan House Order on that question.
  3. Secured passage of a bill granting tax credits for local farmers who provide agricultural products to homeless shelters and food pantries. Measure failed in Appropriations. I would like to fund a pilot project under this initiative.

2. Are you a clean election candidate?

No

  1. If you are an incumbent, how did you vote on the re-qualifying option to replace matching funds?

Yes

  1. Would you vote for a non-binding resolution that expresses opposition to the Citizen United Supreme Court decision?

Yes

  1. If there were a constitutional amendment designed to nullify the effects of the decision, would you vote for it?

Amending the basic charter of our government is an extended, challenging process not to be taken lightly, as it should. I would rather explore other statutory mechanisms that may achieve similar ends.

3. Who are your top three donors?

Myself ($1800), MSEA ($250) MEA ($250)

What level of campaign finance disclosure do you think is necessary?

That level needed to insure transparency so that citizens are informed

Do you believe it’s acceptable for candidates to accept money from PACs?

Yes

4. What industries do you see bringing jobs to the state in the coming years?

Precision manufacturing, telecommunications, wood fibre, composites/fabrication, home health services

How can the state do a better job attracting and supporting these industries?

Foster a predictable consistent environment for investment coupled to a flexible dynamic educational/ technical training system for future members of the workforce.

What proposal to create jobs would you bring to the table that offers a fresh approach?

Economic growth will not arise from one magic policy bullet but from a score of micro initiatives that aggregate to create a positive context for those willing to take the risk to create the potential for business development. I would like to see us do more to inspire the emergence of an aggressive research and development corridor between the University system and key municipalities.

5. What has been the impact of the Occupy movement so far? Name 3 accomplishments/consequences.

A. Public awareness of income disparity as a political and moral question.

B. Resurgence of grassroot, street level advocacy

P.S. What is your tax rate or bracket? ___% 

6. Do you support the following workers’ rights policies

1.  A mandate for paid sick days
Costs could present prohibitive hurdles for small business owners

2.  A living wage mandate

I’m not clear as to how we objectively distinguish or measure a living wage from our current understanding of minimum wage; moreover, how would a living wage policy impact price stability for consumer goods and services as well as local labor costs.

3.  Worker’s right to organize a union

Yes

P.S. What dollar amount do you think is a living wage? See above

7. Would you support legislation that enables municipalities to tax big box stores?

Tax policy should not be solely predicated on a single standard of cumulative square feet involved in a building footprint

How about a local option sales tax?

A local option sales tax has merit if the revenue is dedicated to capital
improvement or development of infrastructure or facilities that have a
measurable economic impact on a specific region of the state.

8. Do you support bonds as a means of funding Maine’s infrastructure and other investments in the state’s future?

Yes

9. Maine has the second highest student loan debt in the country. What would you do to alleviate the problem of excessive student loan debt?

My two daughters are recent college graduates so the monthly student loan bill is a reality for them as they make their way forward. Two things come to mind:

I support the President’s initiative to tie loan repayment schedules to a percentage of the former student’s annual gross income. On the state level we should explore the possibility of creating a coalition with local financial institutions to provide flexible and readily accessible opportunities to refinance student loan obligations.

10. Would you support increased funding for Maine’s public university and community college system?

Yes

Equal Rights & Courage of Convictions

11. Will you vote for marriage equality on the Maine ballot?

Yes

Will you actively rather than passively support the initiative?

I am always willing to address the issue in any public forum.

12. What’s an example of an issue or policy on which you would not compromise despite constituent lack of support? Are you willing to be a one-term representative/senator because you chose not to compromise your principles? Conversely, what’s an example of an issue on which you would follow the lead of your constituents?

I have always accepted the proposition that voters can have me stand down in any election and return me to private life. They elect me, I believe, to provide leadership.

My responsibility is to insure that my efforts lead to where they want to go. There are, however, instances where a leader must take us where we need to go, which may not be popular at first but it doesn’t make it any less right a path.

When I take that path then I have to be clear with my constituents that my vote is one of conscience and that I accept one real consequence of my decision is that I may not be coming back.

So the question is not one of whether or not I’m willing to do what needs to be done to hold my seat. The question is can I hold onto my convictions to see clearly to what is right and cast my vote accordingly.

13. Do you believe that non-citizen immigrants living in Maine should have the same access to social services as American citizens?

Non-citizens, possessing a lawful immigration status, should be granted access to government services.

14. What is the single most destructive change that has occurred in Augusta in the past two years?

The promotion of scapegoating as a tool for political advantage.

15. Do you feel the need to take a proactive stance against the anti-choice agenda?

Voting is proactive. Beyond that I am willing to express my support when circumstance dictates my doing so.

How would you effectively frame your argument to religious women?

You begin with respect. You must do the hard work to actively listen and understand their perspective before you can achieve common ground. You may not sway their thinking but you can achieve a context for civility in the work that needs to be done.

16. An increasing number of candidates are invoking religion as part of their campaign. Do you believe this is acceptable and do you plan to invoke religion in your own campaign? Why or why not? What role should religion play in campaigns and in shaping public policy?

Freedom of religion allows each of us to freely apply our moral code in living our lives. We were not intended to be a secular nation “free from religion”. Religious beliefs have as great or as less a role in the life of the individual as he or she chooses to embrace. That individual freedom to act on one’s religious beliefs extends to the political arena as well.

Living off the Land & Government Authority

17. What policies would you support that place more Maine-produced food on Maine tables?

The “Buy Local” movement is an example of a great first step to achieving community awareness and support for locality based economics which, if expanded, would benefit a resurgence in farm to city activity.

18. Rank the top 5 energy sources that are the most viable options to combat man-made climate change, 1 being the best and 5 being the worst:
Nuclear 5
Wind power 1
Natural gas 1
Solar power 1
Off shore drilling 5
Tidal energy 1
Other (please explain) Geo-thermal 1

Do you support a mandate to promote the growth of these energy sources?

I sense that the public has expressed a mandate that we do what we can to insure reliable and affordable energy while preserving the quality of our environment.

This charge is challenging as some emerging technologies have been politically typecast as “evil” based on their present need for government subsidies as a way to control the price of production.

A diverse integrated energy platform will require innovative public-private partnerships that must address both the cost and price that drive regional energy investments and practice.

19. How do you envision the future of Maine’s north woods and the management of its unorganized territories?

This is a broad question. That future will be linked to how the next Legislature and administration view the evolving mission of LURC.

20. What should be the role of the Land Use Regulation Commission?

The current debate seems to focus largely on defining a mission and relevant procedures for LURC so that it can accommodate both the larger policy decisions it confronts in preserving the quality of the UT environment and the smaller, but no less important questions, that impact the needs of individual property owners.

21. Maine spends more than $130 million each year on its prisons. The state’s jails and prisons are overcrowded, and its jails place an enormous financial burden on county governments. How would you reform the Maine corrections system? Do you support private prisons as a solution?

First, the Baldacci administration capped the cost of jails for individual counties. Jail cost to municipalities is now fixed and will decline over time. The challenge for county government is whether or not the state can continue to fund jails for those costs above the cap from an increasingly burdened general fund.

Private prisons are not a solution. If you’re a shareholder in a “ for profit” prison you will actively support public policy that incarcerates more people. Prisoners equal profits and become revenue units under such a scheme.

On the other hand, private correctional services contractors, in partnership with existing state agencies, could add value to the system and enhance the mix of available community resources to lessen the need for incarceration of non-violent offenders.

The record of twenty plus years is that getting tough has proved to be an increasingly expensive and cyclical process that has not purchased the public safety we expected it would.

Moving forward, getting tough will necessitate that we get smart as to our understanding of and need for objective evidence behind substance abuse, mental health, chronic unemployment and the relationship of those factors to criminal behavior.