Wesley Richardson is seeking a fourth term as State Representative for District 49, which includes Cushing, Friendship, Union and Warren.

Richardson, who served as president of the Waldoboro Bank for over 15 years, said his political career began with the Maine School Administrative District 40 Board of Directors.

“The thing that got me into office was reading the budget and finding the mistakes that had been made,” he said Sept. 20. He said that he received calls, while serving on that board, asking him to run for the Legislature. Richardson also served on the Knox County Budget Committee.

He said that when others did not support his positions, the right course was to go back to the drawing board and make changes that work for both parties, while coming as close as one could to the original goals of the project.

Richardson said the new Maine Republican Party platform was different from those adopted by previous conventions.

“I’ve never paid much attention to the platform,” he said. “I don’t think it’s ever been used after the convention.” He said he served on a previous platform committee.

“I’m basically comfortable with [the new platform],” he said. “In a couple of places it goes overboard.” He said he approved of a return to the Constitution but did not point to specific aspects of the document.

“I was there that morning when the vote was taken and I was impressed that the majority wanted it without question,” he said. “It was almost everybody that was there.” When asked if he voted for the platform, Richardson said, “I believe I did.”

He said he was not sure what the platform meant when it referred to Austrian economics, but that it might be about maintaining a balanced budget.

Richardson said he attends some Tea Party meetings, but that he preferred the term grassroots to describe the movement.

“[Many are] people who have never paid attention to government,” he said. “In my own case it’s a matter of being a member of the Legislature and finally understanding what the process is. People are coming out and saying, ‘I want to know about this’ and that hasn’t happened in a long time.”

Richardson said that he did not consider himself a Tea Party candidate and that he supported what he called “the grassroots movement.”

Richardson said the 40-mile long transmission line from the Kibby Mountain wind farm decimated the area where he goes fishing.

“I don’t know what they’re getting out of it,” he said. Richardson said the biggest disaster he had seen was when he went by the parking lot where workers on that project leave their vehicles.

“One-third of the cars were from out of state,” he said. He said workers are being brought from Pennsylvania and other states to do jobs that should go to Maine residents.

“I think it all depends on the price of oil,” Richardson said. “If the price went down to $30 a barrel or $20 a barrel, you’d see a lot of change in the attitude of people about oil.”

He said that waste disposal issues would need to be resolved before he would vote in favor of a nuclear power plant.

Richardson said the people voted for medical use of marijuana and that he received a lot of calls from constituents on the issue. He said it was unclear to him what the legislative committee overseeing the creation of dispensaries was trying to do.

Richardson said he wanted state government offices to explore making themselves smaller and, under the right administration, such downsizing could be a positive thing. He said privatization could reduce costs for the Department of Transportation and the Department of Health and Human Services. He did not have an opinion on gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler’s proposal to eliminate the Board of Environmental Protection.

He said the Department of Economic and Community Development was not up-to-date and that gubernatorial candidate Libby Mitchell’s suggestion that DECD be merged with the State Planning Office was probably a good idea.

Richardson said he didn’t think rail transportation was worthwhile for a rural state like Maine.

In regard to a proposal by outgoing Gov. John Baldacci, Richardson said he thought money could be saved by having game warden and marine patrol responsibilities handled by a single, smaller group.

He said he was proud to have initiated a bill to allow for an apprentice hunting program so people could hunt without a license if accompanied by a licensed hunter.

Richardson serves on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee in the Legislature and said the system for paying for health care in Maine was “a mess.”

“I think Dirigo Health was a total failure,” he said. “I’m not sure where we’re going. I think it all depends on what the Legislature ends up passing.”

He said he would like to see a discussion of health insurance tax credits for companies that employ fewer than 25 workers, and clarification of what the federal health care law will do in regard to those who have little or no income.

“I was in favor of the ability to purchase health insurance out of state,” he said. “The legislation failed.”

He said the relationship between federal fisheries regulators, the Department of Marine Resources and local fishing communities in terms of both resource protection and community preservation was a constant work in progress.

Richardson said Maine had a right and a need to weigh in on national and global issues such as climate change.

“I think Paul LePage is a conservative person and I think he is going to bring a change that’s needed to government,” Richardson said. He said LePage would probably be willing to tackle the issue of consolidation of departments.

“I’m surprised at the support he has,” Richardson said. “I haven’t seen that in the last three [gubernatorial] campaigns.”

“I think the legislative process is a fabulous experience,” Richardson said. He said he found lobbyists to be helpful in providing information to help him understand issues at a deeper level.

He said he was concerned about increasing Maine’s economic value and that workers in the state should make a salary that meets the U.S. average.

“That would be $5,000 more,” he said. “You create an environment that does that by cutting taxes and regulations.” Richardson said reducing income taxes would allow businesses to pay workers more and that more, higher paid workers would translate into a lower need for governmental services.

“A job market is the key issue,” he said. “Any business we can get here is going to be right for Maine.” He said a company’s headquarters might be anywhere, as long as they had plants and workers in Maine.

“I want voters to know that I respect [the opinions of] the majority of [those in] my district,” Richardson said. He said he took pride in the number of constituents who reached out to him and of his work in helping them reach the proper agency to resolve their issues.

The Herald Gazette Reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by e-mail at sauciello@villagesoup.com.

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