2016-10-13 / News

Election 2016

District 12 race sees political newcomer in Biddeford

Martin Grohman Martin Grohman Printed below are responses to survey forms from candidates for State Representative for District 12, which covers the downtown area of Biddeford. Incumbent Martin Grohman, a Democrat, will face Independent Matthew Lauzon. The Courier prints responses within each race in alphabetical order by the last name of the candidate.

Name: Martin Grohman

Age: 48

Address: 9 Lisa Lane

Occupation: Manager at a roofing company

Family: Married to Amy Grohman; two children in Biddeford schools

Education: Bachelor of Science, chemical engineering

Organizations and activities (including past political experience): Currently serving as state representative; chairman of the Solid Waste Management Commission, which oversees the city’s recycling program.

Matthew Lauzon Matthew Lauzon Top three issues:

1. Property taxes: I believe that high property taxes are a major issue. In my first term I voted to restore the Homestead Exemption, which had expired in 2010. I cast a key vote to bring $700,000 in new state education funding to Biddeford, which meant that local property taxes were kept in check. I’ve already co-sponsored legislation for the next legislative session to increase the Property Tax Fairness Credit. Working together with other locally elected representatives, I believe we can continue our state-level success on this issue.

2. Opiates: We have to solve the epidemic of opiate abuse in our state. We’ve tried to arrest our way out of the problem and that has not worked. Along with Attorney General Janet Mills, I have been involved in discussions about those trapped in the cycle of addiction. I’ve toured suboxone clinics, met with sober house therapy groups and spoken to members of the criminal justice system. I supported legislation, now in effect, that imposed prescription limits and required all prescriptions to be entered into a central database to prevent “doctor shopping.” I voted to allow pharmacists to dispense Narcan without a prescription, and I helped push through new funding from the Legislature that is now providing a grant being used by the Biddeford and Saco Police Departments to help address this issue in our communities.

3. Infrastructure: I believe we need to make further sensible investments in our infrastructure. Aging roads, bridges, utility and water systems can create safety and security issues. They create unnecessary delays and costs. Working together, we need to get our fair share from the state and improve our transportation and utility networks to create efficiencies, improve safety and security and reduce costs.

Why are you seeking elected office?

The Green Street fire occurred right after I was elected. It was meaningful to raise emergency housing funds for my neighbors. When a veteran needed help accessing his VA benefits, I connected him to the right network. When our schools needed new flags, I jumped to help. Throughout my first term I have worked with people on everything from reducing delays in the professional licensing process to problems with health care benefits. The job of state rep is complex. I will bring the benefit of my experience to a new term. I am also well positioned for a committee chairmanship, which will bring additional visibility and give me additional leverage on behalf of our city. I am proud of the positive impact I’ve had on Biddeford, and I would like to continue that work.

If you could change one thing about Biddeford, what would it be and how would you do it?

We are good people. Our town is a good place. We need to believe in ourselves. The only limits to our growth are our own doubts. I wish my friends and constituents could hear the positive feedback I receive when folks from around the state find out I represent Biddeford. We have great neighborhoods, award-winning restaurants, beautiful beaches and mill spaces alive with new jobs. We are the strongest economic development center in York County. There are lots of “Help Wanted” signs and our business parks are full. Our schools are great and getting better. We make the extra effort for every student, and the new STEM program is a big success by all accounts. Biddeford has so much to be proud of and such a wonderful history to build upon.

Name: Matthew Lauzon
Age: 31
Address: 37 South St.
Occupation: Technology consultant
Family: Debbie Lauzon (mother), Mike Lauzon (father) and
Chris and Patrick Lauzon (brothers).
Education: St. James School, Biddeford High School, Babson
Organizations and activities (including past political
experience): Veteran Business Owner Initiative (helped
create the Empowerment Bank), Biddeford Athletic Association

volunteer, Biddeford School Department volunteer, Saco Salmon
Restoration Alliance volunteer, active public participant in the
Charter Revision Commission process, volunteer with Heroin &
Healing Community Forums.

Top three issues:

1. The heroin epidemic is our state’s biggest challenge, by far. As I knock on doors in the district I’m hearing almost unanimously that this is the top concern people have. I’m also hearing the same thing as I talk to decision makers who are weighing whether or not to grow their business in Maine. I have four-point plan that includes ensuring every person seeking treatment gets access to treatment. I’m proud to have already begun working on this issue before I’m even elected to office and am honored the community is trusting me to be there for them.

2. Attracting large employers that will provide jobs to you and your loved ones. This includes aligning our schools to train people for these jobs and addressing our tax policies. My experience building a business that was a catalyst for bringing well paying manufacturing jobs is something I look forward to applying as your state representative.

3. Making sure that those living in poverty or on fixed incomes are not faced with the choice of buying food or turning their heat on. Many of these people are veterans and people that have made major contributions to our community. We cannot leave them behind. This includes a commitment to reducing energy costs and enhancing access to health care. My experience as a community organizer and advocate is helping me hear these voices loud and clear and I will be a champion for them.

Why are you seeking elected office?

I believe government works best when all voices are heard. I am receiving support, contributions and endorsements from members of the Democrat, Green, Libertarian and Republican parties as well as Independent voters.

My approach is driven by what I’m hearing from you, the citizen. As an Independent candidate you are the only people I’m beholden to. I am also highly results-oriented. Were I not sure I could deliver results for you, I would not seek election to this very important job. I have the experience with advocacy to be a strong voice in the fight to solve the heroin crisis. My experience in business and investing can be used to attract and retain employers that provide high quality jobs. With my roots here I have seen and felt the impacts of layoffs. My dad working at the Shipyard and post office and my Mom a lunch lady and receptionist, I know what it’s like when the family breadwinner gets laid off and the family has to tighten its belt. It’s this unique range of experiences, combined with a commitment to listening to you, the citizen, that I believe will allow me to excel as your state representative.

If you could change one thing about Biddeford, what would it be and how would you do it?

I’m actively working on changing what I believe we need to address to achieve our fullest potential. The reality is that we have over 20,000 people living here but a small percentage vote and very small number of people are actively engaged in state and local government. I believe that we’re at our best when all voices are heard and we need to work together to make sure this happens. Part of this is embracing both the heritage and diversity of Biddeford. The highlights of my campaign have been helping broker connection and reconnections between people who otherwise wouldn’t be working together to better the community. Every time this happens our community becomes stronger.

Whether or not I’m elected I’m committed to unifying the community. I will feel I’ve succeeded if things like the community-driven “Heroin & Healing” series continue to grow. I will be proud if this is the largest voter turnout we’ve seen in decades. I will continue to remind people that their voice matters, their vote matters and we are a community that comes together to overcome challenges and tackle opportunities.

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