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House District 95

Pluecker runs to represent the community values of his district, opposes CMP corridor

By Susan Mustapich | Sep 21, 2020
Bill Pluecker

Warren — Rep. Bill Pluecker is running for reelection as an Independent to work for the values of his community in the State House, to ensure the state is properly funding towns,  to reduce carbon emissions and expand access to broadband internet.

He was elected in 2018 to his first term in the Maine House of Representatives, District 95, representing the towns of Appleton, Hope, Warren and part of Union. He serves on the Agriculture, Conservation, & Forestry Committee and has taken an active role in opposing the CMP corridor. He face Republican Molly Luce in the Nov. 3 election.

Pluecker has been farming with his family for 16 years and owns Hatchet Cove Farm in Warren. He and his wife Reba have a son, 14, and daughter, 11.

He  was asked why he is running for reelection, and questions on the COVID-19 pandemic, property taxes, climate change and investment in broadband internet. He was also asked to talk about his views on issues that often divide voters along partisan lines, choosing either women's reproductive rights or gun control, or both.

Running for office

"I am running for office once again because as an Independent, I'm able to do something a little different, than what most of the folks in the State House are able to do," he said. “I'm able to go up there and really represent the people of my district irrespective of party.”

Pluecker described his supporters in his district as having a broad swath of political points of view, including "conservative folks and liberal folks and everybody in between." They support him "because they're interested in voting for a person and not just a party," he said.

"They know that at the end of the day that the values of our community are the things that are the most important to me and those are the things that I'm going to be working for in the State House.”

Another reason he seeks reelection is to finish work on over 400 bills the legislature has been working on over the past two years. That work was cut short by the shutdown of the State House in early spring due to COVID-19, he said.

“It felt like we were just yards from the goal line and we weren't able to get them across. I'd really like to go back and finish some of the work that we began and that we didn't get a chance to finish,” he said.

COVID-19 pandemic

Pluecker sees health, the effects of COVID-19 on the state budget and the wise use of CARES ACT relief funds as priorities.

“We cannot go back to work, we can't move on as a community and as a district until we know we're healthy and in a good place.” He said Mainers are blessed to be in a state that has not had the types of outbreaks others have seen and that has done a decent job of staying safe.

Maine will be dealing with the effects of COVID on the state budget for years to come, he said. He wants to both move forward on the state budget in the 130th Legislature in 2021 and "to hold the line on the important priorities of funding municipal revenue sharing and making sure schools are funded so that property taxes don't go up."

He wants CARES ACT money coming in to Maine to be "used well and wisely, making sure that businesses are able to get back up and going." Especially important would be targeted grant programs for “industries that have suffered the most during this time like restaurants, hotels and tourism services,” he said

Taxes

Property taxes is the number one issue Pluecker hears about when he goes door-to-door talking to folks in his district.

Making sure the state is upholding its end of the bargain, by holding the line on costs and not pushing those costs back on towns, is important in many ways, he said.

Legislators can make sure that the state is properly funding its towns, he said.

Towns only have one major avenue for raising funds, which is property taxes, he said.

“Every time municipal revenue sharing goes down — that's the sales tax that's shared from the state to the towns —there's more pressure on property taxes,” he said. “We've got to make sure that's not happening.”

The burden of rising property tax falls most heavily on people who have been living in their communities the longest, some who are elderly, he said. Older people, living on a fixed income, can be driven out of their homes when property taxes rise year after year, he explained.

Rising property taxes are also hard on young families that are getting started, he said.

Climate change

Pluecker supports state government goals to greatly reduce carbon emissions. Programs that support energy efficient vehicles are important because vehicles are the largest source of emissions in Maine, he said. Making it easier for people to install solar panels on homes and farms is also important, he said.

Harvesting solar energy fits in with the Maine ethos of being self reliant and self-sufficient, he said. "Instead of going out and cutting firewood, we’re collecting our own solar."

He said this two-pronged solution to reduce fossil fuel usage will increase opportunities for green jobs and small businesses to grow.

He has seen the effects of climate change on his farm, calling this year the driest and hardest year he has seen, he said. For the first 10 years, "water fell from from the sky," he said, and wasn't something that needed to be pumped out of the ground to irrigate his crops.

He also sees the effects of climate change on important industries, including lobster fishing, which employs fishermen in his district, and the lumber industry, which effects businesses like Robbins Lumber, just outside of his district.

Broadband

Pluecker sees the need for state government to put money in to broadband, “but we can’t do it all in one shot." Maine needs a lay-away plan, he said, to put away a certain amount we can afford every year, that is large enough so we can see a result from it. The cost to bring broadband to the very farthest homes in the woods and down the last dirt lanes will be in the billions, he said.

The need for broadband internet is especially clear during COVID-19, with people working from home, he said. The property market is going through the roof in Warren and in other places because people are trying to move here, according to Pluecker. "They can move here because they can telecommute from home. We need broadband wireless in place so people can come here and then bring in good paying jobs which is good for our economy," he said.

Broadband is also important for small businesses, he said. His own farm is an example. When they were able to work out a deal with the cable company to get broadband internet, it made selling their farm products online and managing their website much easier, he said.

Women's reproductive rights

Pluecker said he is a pro-choice candidate. "To be clear, I’m pro-choice, not pro-abortion." Coming to this position has been a personal journey for Pluecker, who was raised Catholic and not raised to believe that pro-choice was an option that people should have. He has come to look at being pro-choice or pro-life from a point of personal liberty. The question is, do we want the government in our lives to tells us the medical procedures that we can and can’t have, or what our ethics and our morals need to be, he said. "That’s not the America or Maine that we want," he said. "We want liberty and freedom. Being pro-choice is part of that.  It’s been a long journey but that’s where I’ve ended up."

He disagrees with some people who say he is not Christian due to his belief. Pluecker said he is a Christian, and is prompted by some of Jesus’ teachings in the Bible “to have a faith in my fellow people, to have hope for my community and work for them in a way that we all have the personal liberties that we’re promised.”

CMP corridor

Pluecker is opposed to the CMP corridor, and is working to stop it. He was involved in a lot of discussion on this with the Agriculture Conservation and Forestry committee in the statehouse. The Conservation department oversees state public lands, and part of the corridor is goes through the public lands. He believes the state Constitution says the legislature should have a vote on blocking the change of use of certain public lands, now used for recreation, that will be built out for the corridor. "In the constitution it’s an important job of the Legislature to protect those public lands and have a voice in that conversation," he said. Pluecker is currently a plaintiff in a suit to stop the CMP corridor.

A job he wants to do for the community

A takeaway Pluecker always tries to give folks is that this campaign is not political, and he does not see himself as fighting an opponent.

"That’s not how I approach this," he said. He approaches the election as a job he is applying for, that he wants to do for his community, for the people who are electing him and for those who vote against, too. He said, having the opportunity to do that work and to be present for his community is a privilege.

Election 2020 - Bill Pluecker - Candidate: Maine House District #95
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