Down East 2013 ©
Most Mainers list outdoor activities as major contributors to their quality of life, but few will vote on November 2 with much understanding of what the gubernatorial candidates will do to protect and enhance our outdoor heritage.
While many sportsmen look to candidate endorsements by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (through its political action committee SAM PAC) and the National Rifle Association, others pay attention to the endorsements issued by the Maine League of Conservation Voters – the principal political action committee of the state’s environmentalists.
The MLCV’s endorsements will be posted soon on the MLCV Web site .
For the record, the five candidates for governor are: Republican Paul LePage, Democrat Elizabeth (Libby) Mitchell, and Independents Eliot Cutler, Shawn Moody, and Kevin Scott.
SAM and the MLCV asked each candidate for Maine’s top state office to complete lengthy and probing questionnaires and to sit for interviews with their respective staff and Boards of Directors.
Starting today and in the next few blogs, I’ll present the candidates’ responses to those questionnaires, along with other statements gleaned from interviews and forums in which the candidates participated. We’ll begin with their responses to the survey issued by SAM PAC.
One of SAM PAC’s most interesting questions asks the candidates about the experiences that shaped their thinking about Maine’s outdoor heritage. Here’s what they wrote.
Libby Mitchell: “My primary experience centers on my family. As a wife of a hunter, I understand the passion that it involves. My four children were raised in Maine’s outdoors. I am proud to say that all four of my adult children have chosen to live in Maine because of our quality of place that I have fought long and hard to protect throughout my public career.
“My chosen place in the Maine outdoors is our family camp at Mount Kineo. For the last 25 years I have sought the solace of the Maine woods and the extraordinary experience of Moosehead Lake and its hardworking people.
“In my public career I have had a first class education in Maine’s hunting and fishing heritage. I understand and have fought for habitat protection, increased hunting opportunities, funding for the IFW Department, and preserving this way of life. Much of this education has come from SAM and its members. I have sponsored many SAM initiatives and have been proud to represent this community. This is why I have earned the SAM endorsement for at least the last six of my legislative races,” concluded Mitchell.
Paul LePage: “Spent 25 years in forest products industry, logging, lumbering, paper.”
Eliot Cutler: “Growing up in Bangor, I hiked all over Maine, camped in the summer and skied in the winter. I fished with my Uncle Gaston (a schoolteacher) and my Uncle Abe on Moosehead Lake and other ponds and lakes all over Penobscot, Hancock, and Washington Counties. I learned to cast a fly and shoot a gun as a kid, and I loved every minute of life in Maine’s outdoors.
“Later, when I worked with Ed Muskie, I helped write the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act – so that Maine’s bay, river and air would be clean again. I learned that ‘pickerel vs. payrolls’ was a false choice, and I have not forgotten that lesson,” reported Cutler.
Shawn Moody: “Hunted and trapped throughout high school with older brother Thad. Thad and 3 friends purchased land in Rockwood in 1976. We helped build camp on Brassua Lake and have enjoyed the Moosehead Lake Region ever since.”
Kevin Scott: “Growing up in a hunting and fishing family, I have fond memories of my brothers and I doing extensive brook fishing in ‘deep Maine woods’ with father and friends as kids. Very much recall days at my grandfathers camp in Weld, Maine berry picking, target practicing with 22 caliber rifles as kids, and general outdoor recreation. A ton of brook fishing, pond fishing, some trolling on Richardson Lakes, etc..”
Sometimes you can learn a lot about a person by the organizations he or she supports. When asked to list their memberships in groups representing sportsmen, conservationists, and environmentalists, Mitchell listed only her SAM membership. LePage listed his memberships in the National Rifle Association and the Maine Forest Products Council. Cutler offered a more extensive list including his SAM life membership, Crabtree Neck Land Trust, Frenchman Bay Conservancy, Friends of Casco Bay, Maine Audubon, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Maine Farmland Trust, and Winter Kids. Moody listed Presumpscot Land Trust and Governor’s Carbon Challenge. Scott reported that he was a member of SWOAM and ACCA.
When asked what outdoor activities they personally enjoy, Cutler listed hunting, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling, and boating. LePage listed shooting, hiking, boating, biking, snowshoeing, skiing, and logging. Mitchell reported that she enjoys fishing, snowmobiling, hiking, canoeing, and boating. Scott reported hunting, shooting, hiking, biking, gold panning, swimming, and smelting. Moody listed fishing, snowmobiling, hiking, canoeing, and boating.
During interviews with the SAM Board and staff, the following interesting comments were heard.
Libby Mitchell expressed the belief that Maine could have “world class fishing.” She said that Poland Spring is “good news, good jobs, good for our future.” She said her top three actions for sportsmen would be to get a “bold commissioner who will work with sportsmen; make DIF&W customer oriented, efficient, and effective; and rebuild the deer herd.”
Paul LePage said, “Forestry, farming and fishing are the major components of our state’s economy,” and expressed the opinion that “private management of the state resources” is best. “All four (forest industry) companies I worked for were better stewards of the land than the government.”
LePage said that instead of using regulations, he would “incentivize” private landowners to protect deeryards and other wildlife habitat. His top three acts for sportsmen would be to “manage the resource, be an intermediary to improve communication between sportsmen and landowners, and brand Maine as a place to hunt and fish.”
Eliot Cutler said he is “absolutely committed to the Departments of Conservation, Marine Resources, and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.” He also is focused on improved roads, asking, “Have you tried to get to Moosehead Lake lately? If you drove there from out-of-state, you wouldn’t come back.”
Cutler emphasized that he “believes in investing in Maine’s competitive advantages, including fish and wildlife.” The top three things he’d do for sportsmen are, “jump start the economy and get it into a growth mode, create a much wider and broader understanding of tourism in all its respects, and restore species habitat as much and as broadly as possible to return us to the top rung of places to hunt and fish in this country.”
Shawn Moody indicated he would consider requiring public access for all land in Maine’s tree growth tax program. Among his top three actions for sportsmen were more marketing and promotion and strong leadership at DIF&W.
Kevin Scott missed his opportunity to interview with the SAM Board.