Comprehensive tax reform and protecting the environment are things Democratic Sen. David Miramant wants to continue to work on if he is re-elected to the state Legislature in November.

Miramant, 61, of Camden, is running for re-election to the Senate District 12 seat he has held since 2014. He is being challenged by Republican candidate David Emery of Tenants Harbor. District 12 includes most towns in Knox County.

Miramant, a retired airline pilot who worked for both Bar Harbor Airlines and Delta Airlines, moved to Maine in 1975 to attend the University of Maine at Farmington, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology. When not in the Legislature, which he said is a full-time job nine months of the year, he operates Spirit Soaring Glider Rides at Knox County Regional Airport. He also served in the Legislature as the Camden-Rockport representative from 2006 to 2008.

"I try to make change to benefit the people of Maine and the people of Knox County," Miramant said.

When he was first elected in 2006, one of the big reasons he was interested in serving in the House was to work on tax reform because, he said, it seemed everything kept getting cut in Augusta and bleeding down into homeowners' property taxes.

"The people who built this community, lived in it their whole life, and want to retire in it and enjoy the fruits of their labor are being forced out because their incomes get fixed, but anything that happens in Augusta and they say 'Let's take a little money from this' and their property tax mil rate goes up and it's just horrible," Miramant said.

A tax reform package that Miramant helped to create as a state representative failed and when he was re-elected he said he was excited to get back at it because some of the things the current governor was saying were ideas included in the earlier package. However, he said, when he returned to Augusta he realized the package included giving breaks to the wealthiest people, who can already afford to pay their taxes, instead of adjusting it appropriately for the middle class.

As far as the state's promise to fund 55 percent of education costs, which was a referendum question passed by voters in 2004, Miramant said both Republican and Democratic governors have now allowed that number to be reduced.

"We certainly made it loud and clear that we want it funded at 55 percent, and yet we can't seem to move that number," he said. When there were extra funds,they were given to law enforcement, although Miramant said the Senate stood firm on $15 million being used for education, which would have helped keep property taxes down.

Miramant was one of seven legislators who introduced bills to increase the minimum wage in the last session and when none of those bills was acted upon, he said that is when the citizens' initiative, which will be voted on in November, was developed.

Miramant said Maine's current minimum wage of $7.50 per hour has left workers unable to participate in the "modern economy" and leaves those who work 40 hours per week at a $15,600 annual salary. He said he supports the citizens' initiative to introduce incremental increases to the minimum wage, with it being brought up to $12 per hour by 2020, and then indexing it to inflation. In addition, he also supports ending the tipped minimum wage.

"Young people leaving the state to go and see what is out there is a wonderful thing, but then we need to create jobs that they have trained for so they can come back," he said.

Miramant said there are two ways to create more jobs. One is to create tech jobs by using the high-speed fiberoptic internet network developed in Rockport. Another way is to embrace alternative energy, such as solar, because it would create jobs that cannot leave Maine, and there would be a need for people to work on the system from the ground all the way up to designing it.

Another priority is protecting the environment, he said. The state can produce energy without polluting.

"It's why we live here, it's what keeps us healthy when it's healthy, and it's what brings people and money to our area so that we can thrive here and stay here and enjoy it," Miramant said.

The face of drug addicts has changed, he said. Instead of the typical addict being someone who wants to go out, get high and shut out the world, it is now people who are addicted to opiates they were prescribed by doctors who were being told by pharmaceutical companies that the medication was not addictive.

In February, Miramant said, a forum with about 200 people, including former addicts, sheriff's deputies, church groups, counselors, and drug enforcement agents, gathered in Rockland to discuss the crisis and what came out of it was a consensus that longer jail sentences are not working.

"All kinds of folks are caught up in this, and their only crime is they tried to get more of a prescription that they couldn't because it was such an addictive drug that is really hard to get off of," he said.

Maine is horribly lacking in treatment facilities and beds, Miramant said, and part of that stems from the state's having rejected the Medicare expansion. If that were approved, 70,000 more people would have health insurance and there would have been money for options. He said when Maine rejects these funds, they are simply given to other states and income taxes are not lower because the funds were not accepted.

"It's just money thrown away, and it allows problems to get bigger and costs us more money and lives," he said.

When asked what changes should be incorporated so both parties can work better together, Miramant said for him it doesn't take a lot of change. He said the Senate works quite well together, but the divisiveness comes from a few legislators and it starts at the top.

"The only stumbling block is the handful of legislators that are stuck in their ideology and forget who they serve," he said. "You have to let go of this idea that you are always right, but do not let go of the passion to solve a problem."

Miramant said he has great friends on both sides of the aisle and there are a lot of legislators who do work well together, but there must be fundamental decency and civility, because divisiveness only has everyone thinking they can't work together. "I never think that for a minute."

In addition to serving in the House and Senate, Miramant also served on the Camden Select Board from 2000 to 2003 and is currently a member of the Camden Personnel Committee, a job he has held for many years. In Augusta, he serves on the Marine Resources Committee and also was on the Maine Aeronautical Board in the 1980s.

He also was a founding board member of Maine Coast Men, a group that organizes weekends to help men learn to be happier, healthier members of their families and communities. It also supports mentoring of young men to do the same.

He is married to Dee Webster, a homeopathic consultant in Camden. The couple have two grown children, Ashley and Josh.

Courier Publications Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at klincoln@villagesoup.com.