Nelson Durgin: Why I, as a Republican, will vote for independent Eliot Cutler

By Nelson Durgin, Special to the BDN
Posted March 24, 2014, at 11:51 a.m.

I am a longtime active Republican, and I am voting for independent Eliot Cutler for governor. Our current governor has not provided leadership for Maine, nor has he put his conservative ideals into action. If you really want someone who can cut government waste and turn around Maine’s economy, then vote for Cutler this fall.

Gov. Paul LePage has embarrassed our state, too often capturing national headlines with remarks that are inappropriate or derogatory. The governor’s words and actions have tarnished Maine’s reputation and have not encouraged potential investors to come to Maine. He has confused vigorous advocacy of conservative ideals with erratic bullying and crass provocations. This attitude is dragging Maine and the state’s economy down.

Tough talk wouldn’t be so bad if words translated into action. But with LePage, it simply doesn’t. I believe the governor when he says that he wants to limit the role of government, but I am convinced, after three years of questionable leadership, that he has no idea how to make this happen.

LePage’s full-on assault of municipal revenue sharing is a case in point. Calling it “municipal welfare” he offered empty slogan after empty slogan (It’s time for the municipalities to “tighten their belts,” for example) without considering what this meant or how his position would actually result in more government waste and higher taxes for the people of Maine.

As someone dedicated to smaller and decentralized government, and as a member of the Bangor City Council, to me, the governor’s assault on revenue sharing was particularly offensive.

Revenue sharing is a very tangible recognition that local government can most efficiently and effectively provide the vast majority of services that are important to the people of Maine. By dispensing funds to Maine’s cities and towns, Augusta is ensuring that these dollars are spent as efficiently as possible and used in meaningful ways such as community policing, code enforcement and person-to-person social services.

Isn’t this a better use of taxpayer dollars than funding the oversized Augusta bureaucracy?

The governor’s anti-revenue sharing position was also reckless because it would have inevitably forced cities and towns to raise property taxes, thereby only increasing the already too-high tax burden on the people of Maine.

In addition to his inability to see the bigger picture, the governor too often contradicts himself and can’t seem to come up with the right answer when two of his “priorities” butt heads. For example, fiscal restraint is out the window when LePage decides he wants the state to borrow $100 million to build a new prison in Windham.

A “big picture” governor should find a way to promote our criminal justice system in a fiscally responsible way.

Cutler is the type of “big picture” governor who will not make such wasteful blunders and who will govern with an efficiency and effectiveness not seen in Augusta for decades.

Mainers need someone who can put their words into action, who has made a career of attracting investors, who knows how to “trim the fat” from a bloated budget. Cutler has started and managed companies both domestic and global, helped turn around failing companies, and managed organizations large and small. This is more than LePage, and certainly more than U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District, can offer the people of Maine.

Cutler will promote Maine and invest in the state’s economy and businesses with the practiced eye of someone who has worked at the highest levels of the private sector and the federal government. He will not spend taxpayer dollars in pursuit of an inflexible ideology. In fact, I believe that Cutler will only commit taxpayer dollars when he determines they will yield a higher return for Maine’s residents and cities and towns.

This is the way he has done business his entire career, and it’s the way he will continue to do business in Augusta.

Republicans need to choose this November between someone who talks the conservative talk or someone who has a real record of building, expanding and turning around corporations as big or bigger than Maine’s government and economy.

I believe strongly that the latter is the key to Maine’s economic success, and that’s why I am voting for Eliot Cutler.

Nelson Durgin is a Bangor city councilor. The views expressed in this OpEd do not represent the views of the council.

 

http://bangordailynews.com/2014/03/24/opinion/contributors/nelson-durgin-why-i-as-a-republican-will-vote-for-independent-eliot-cutler/ printed on December 28, 2014