Continuing the series of interviews with candidates for office, Adam Cote, Democrat for Governor of Maine 2018, has agreed to answer questions about his candidacy!
1 – Thank you allowing me to interview you! Please tell me a little bit about yourself and why you are qualified to be our next Governor.
Thanks James. I was born and raised in Sanford, Maine. Sanford is a former mill town working really hard to create new economic opportunity. I served on the local school board and helped pass a budget that allowed us to rebuild our high school and vocational school to help people get the practical skills and training they need to have good careers. My background is different than most of the people running for governor. My leadership experience doesn’t come from Augusta. It comes from a 20-year career in the Maine Army National Guard, including three combat tours in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan – and 16 years of private sector work trying to grow renewable energy businesses in Maine. I just helped the Kennebunk Light and Power District complete a deal to build one of the largest solar energy arrays in Maine. On my last combat tour in Afghanistan, I was pulled mid-tour and asked to take over a unit from another part of the country that had devolved into a lot of fighting, back-biting resulting in poor performance. By the end of the tour, the unit was one of the highest performing in our brigade of 3,500 soldiers. As a citizen, I see what goes on in Augusta and believe it desperately needs that kind of turnaround and new leadership. I believe Maine has incredible opportunities to lead and grow a strong economy, but we need change and to keep our focus on how communities like Sanford and families across our state can get good jobs, good careers and benefit from a growing, progressive Maine economy.
2 – The Democratic side of the field is gaining in numbers and more are expected to join the race. Why are you the Democratic party’s best chance against the Republicans in the General Election?
I was the first Democrat to enter this race back in April. Here is why I got in and why I believe I have the best chance of winning the race. I was born and raised in Maine. I love this state. I believe deeply in service. My military service is coming to an end, but my wife and I see running for Governor as the best way to give back, serve and build a state and economy where our five children – and all Maine kids – can find fulfilling careers and grow their own families here in Maine.
Why am I the Democrat with the best chance to win in November? Because I am just as passionate about creating jobs in rural Maine as I am about standing up for other Democratic values like equality, justice, privacy, and opportunity. Because I believe in progressive economic growth and I am a Franco-American combat veteran from rural Maine with 16 years of private sector experience who has hunted and fished most of his life. And, I believe the 2018 election is going to be about change and a desire for new leadership in Augusta. At the moment, I am the only candidate – in either party – who represents change and new leadership.
3 – Money in politics is something that is at the top of people’s list of concerns. I understand that you are not running as a Clean Elections candidate. Can you give insight as to why you’re running as a traditionally funded candidate and provide any information on where and who the money you receive will come from?
Most of the people I know and have been meeting say their top concern is having a Democratic governor who will focus on growing Maine’s economy in a smart, progressive way and creating good jobs. As far as election financing, I think both clean elections and traditional are valid choices. I am running traditional. My contributions so far have been roughly equal between under $200 and over $200. So far they have largely been from personal and professional friends and colleagues, plus a national network of Colby College alumni and friends I have been proud to serve with over 20-years in the Maine Army National Guard.
4 – Your campaign’s message is “New Leadership, Strong Economy.” Can you give me an example of each that you would do as Governor?
Absolutely. Let’s take renewable energy as an example of both. I have 16 years of experience in renewable energy law, policy and business. In 2013, President Obama’s White House recognized me as a “Champion of Change” for my business work as a “veteran working to advance clean energy and climate security.” I am telling you right now, Maine can become the first 100% renewable energy state in the country, attract a lot of investment, and create a lot of very good jobs if we have a leader committed to that goal. Renewable energy leadership will be one of my top priorities. I will work hard to build the policy, get the votes and make the public case to all Mainers for why renewable energy leadership is in our interest. We will get it done and then I will personally invest time on attracting renewable energy investment and business in Maine. With new leadership in the Blaine House, we can grow a strong renewable energy economy in Maine.
5 – The referendum process and how often it’s used is consistently under scrutiny. What are your thoughts on the people using referendums to create law?
The Maine constitution gives the people the right to petition their government through the referendum process, so – people absolutely have that right and it should be protected. There have been some tremendous victories and accomplishments through the referendum process.
Here is what I would like to see: We need to work very hard this time to be sure we elect a Democratic governor in 2018. Then, we need to work very hard over successive elections to either win or expand Democratic majorities in the statehouse and in positions across the state. An effective leader and Governor and smart allies would work together to fashion a legislative and electoral agenda, including ballot initiatives, that would expand the number of elected Democrats versus allowing the state to continue to turn more and more red. I have no doubt we would do that, working together, if I serve as governor.
6 – More than 50% of our state voted to tax top income earners last November in form of Question 2; Stand Up for Students. Republicans fought to have this repealed in this summer’s budget. What are your thoughts on taxing the wealthy?
Maine’s progressive tax code is an essential economic tool to address one of the most damaging trends over the last 30 years: growing income inequality. Governor LePage and Mary Mayhew are 100 percent wrong to have fought for policies that would have given the wealthiest Mainers a huge tax cut while driving up property taxes on everyone else, especially rural communities.
As far as Question 2, we should always do everything possible to honor the expressed will of Maine voters. I am one of the citizens who has been very frustrated politicians in Augusta have refused to honor our commitment to fund K-12 education. We absolutely need a governor who will make fully funding education a priority. I will.
We can’t lose track of the fact that Maine has a shrinking population and what we really need is to help existing businesses grow, attract new businesses and expand our tax base by leading on infrastructure, renewable energy, broadband and the other smart investments.
7 – With the Affordable Care Act under threat of being repealed, many Democrats are looking to the future to Single Payer Healthcare/Medicare for All. What are your thoughts on this? If you like it, how do we go about implementing it? If you dislike the concept, how come?
I support single-payer or adjustments to expand coverage under the ACA. The bottom line for Maine is we need a policy that provides affordable health care for everyone.
8 – Your website does not currently have much policy positions or in-depth specifics. Do you have plans to update this or create a method to show voters where you stand on many different issues?
Yes. Absolutely. It is coming any day now.
9 – Many citizens feel the Governor LePage furthered division across the aisles. What would you do unify Mainers and reverse this division?
One of the reasons my wife and I made the decision to run for governor is that we are really disturbed by the very nasty, very pessimistic, and divisive turn politics have taken because of the governor in Maine and the president in the White House.
I will be – in every way, a leader who makes sure all Mainers are treated with respect regardless of where they live, where they are from, what religion they practice or who they love. Not only is that the right position in terms of my values, but — if we want a modern, growing economy in Maine – it is the only way we can be.
I also believe, in terms of how we literally work together in Augusta, I will be someone who starts with the assumption that each person elected to the legislature is there because they, like I do, believe in service and love their community and the State of Maine. I will be focused on solving problems and creating jobs. I will leave the name calling to others.
10 – In the spirit of unity and bipartisanship, name two things that you feel Governor LePage did well and that you would like to continue.
The governor has been a consistent voice against domestic violence. As someone who experienced those issues as a child, his clarity on has been commendable and important. I would continue to look for ways to strengthen state policies against domestic violence wherever possible.
I think with respect to judicial appointments, the governor has chosen people based on their legal qualifications and not their political ideology, which is important to maintain a strong, independent judicial branch.
11 – In our increasing world of partisan politics, can you name any policy or stance you have that is against modern day Democratic thinking?
That sounds a little more “insidery” than I may understand, but my answer is no. I believe our voters are desperate to see us stop shooting at each other and focus on winning an election so we don’t spend another eight years with a governor like the current one who, on a daily basis, makes life harder for people trying to get ahead.
I believe we can stand up for increasing jobs and economic opportunity AND at the same time defend and advance the causes of justice, equality, and opportunity that have been the imperfect, but long tradition of the Democratic Party.
In a general sense, I think we need some new energy, new ideas and openness to how public policy in 2017-2018 might be different and have exciting new possibilities than public policy in 1990 or 2010.
12 – Any final, parting words for the residents of Maine?
Yes. I think the most important thing I want for Mainers is a sense of optimism.
In the military, we say “Optimism is a force multiplier.” That means, if you think you can solve a problem or overcome an obstacle, you are much more likely to do it that if you don’t think you can do it.
As someone who has been in the energy business and in the military, I feel like I have too often heard people in Augusta tell us “We’ve never done it that way before.”
I think we need change. I think we need leaders from the tradition that asks “Why not?” and says “Yes we can.”
Our motto in the 133rd Engineer Battalion is “Essayons,” which means “Let us try.” That is the spirit I will bring to the Blaine House.
Additional candidate interviews are available for viewing! Democrat Betsy Sweet and Libertarian Richard Light have been gracious enough to answer interview questions, please check those out! Coming soon is an interview with CD2 Candidate Tim Rich.
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