October 24, 2012

House District 82 candidates part ways on core issues

By Craig Crosby ccrosby@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

The candidates hoping to represent Readfield and Winthrop in the state House of Representatives both plan to draw on work history to correct what they see as core problems.

Craig Hickman, House 82, 2012

Contributed photo

Readfield and Winthrop

DATE OF BIRTH: Dec. 8, 1967
FAMILY: Partner, Jop Blom
RESIDENCE: 192 Annabessacook Road, Winthrop
EMPLOYMENT: Organic farmer and owner, Annabessacook Farm B&B and Organic Farm Stand. Previous: Owner of a catering and special events business, proprietor of a theatrical production company, marketing and communications coordinator for a commercial real estate firm, facilities manager for an Internet start-up, administration, operations
EDUCATION: Rufus King High School for the College Bound, Milwaukee, Wis., Harvard University, bachelor of arts in government

DATE OF BIRTH: Jan. 28, 1952
FAMILY: Wife, Holly; children: Ian, Nate and Arica; three grandchildren
RESIDENCE: 155 Highland Ave., Winthrop
EMPLOYMENT: Retired. Previous: Davis Insurance Agency in Monmouth, 1978-2009; chemist at Auburn Water District
EDUCATION: Monmouth Academy, Eckerd College, Eckerd College, bachelor of science in biology

But the candidates part ways on what those issues are.

Republican Scott Davis and Democrat Craig Hickman, both of Winthrop, will square off in the November election to represent House District 82. Hickman defeated Winthrop resident Kevin Cookson by a sizable margin in the June primary; Davis did not face a challenger.

The seat is held by Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop, who is instead seeking election in Senate District 21.

Hickman and Davis see the economy as a key challenge facing the state, but the opportunities they champion for overcoming those challenges are shaped by their own experiences.

"I look hunger in the face every day," Hickman said. "It lives in the shadows but this tough economic downturn has brought it to light."

Hickman said about 20 percent of Maine's children experience hunger and much of what they do eat is processed.

"Children can't learn on an empty stomach," Hickman said. "People can't work productively if they're undernourished."

Davis believes the economy can only improve by addressing four key issues: energy, education, the tax structure and health care.

He said about 17.4 percent of the nation's gross domestic product is consumed by health care; in Maine, it's more than 22 percent.

"It is very difficult for us to compete as a state, and a country, given those health care costs are imbedded in the goods we produce and try to sell to the consumer," he said.

Hickman, 44, owns the Annabessacook Farm Bed & Breakfast and Organic Farm Stand with his partner, Jop Blom. He holds a bachelor's degree in government from Harvard University, was a Democratic National Convention delegate in 2008 and state convention delegate in 2010 and 2012. He has served as vice-chairman of the Winthrop Democrats since 2010.

The Democratic candidate for the district in 2010, Hickman lost to Flood by about 1,000 votes out of more than 4,400 total votes cast.

Hickman is president of the Rotary Club of the Winthrop Area and secretary of the Winthrop Hot Meal Kitchen. He also has served on the boards of the Annabessacook Lake Improvement Association, Maranacook Local Foods Buying Club, Theater at Monmouth and Washburn-Norlands Living History Center.

Davis, 58, is retired after 30 years at Davis Insurance. He and his wife, Holly, have three adult children and three grandchildren.

He grew up in Monmouth and graduated from Monmouth Academy and earned a biology degree from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. Davis also is a chartered financial consultant through American College and is a certified insurance councilor and certified risk manager.

Davis, who is president of the board of DFD Russell Medical Centers, has lived in Winthrop for 35 years. He has never run for elected office, but is a former president of the Winthrop Area Federal Credit Union and is a board member of the Winthrop Area YMCA.

Health care is the top issue for Davis. He said a multi-faceted approach is required to reduce health care spending, but he sees a potential model at DFD Russell Medical Centers. The clinics are part of the Patient Center Medical Home Initiative, which seeks to localize care and help patients take better care of themselves. Part of that initiative is providing care around the clock, so that if a patient is ill he can visit the local clinic rather than go to a hospital emergency room, thereby saving hundreds of dollars, Davis said.

"We try to integrate everything, including the behavioral side, so you will best manage your health," he said.

Hickman, meanwhile, believes Maine must do a better job of feeding itself with food produced within the state. He favors grants for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to help begin farming. The idea mirrors that of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, which trains veterans in sustainable agriculture and businesses in an effort to revitalize family farms.

"We capitalize on these efforts and cultivate a vibrant rural economy that produces quality food, create jobs and puts Maine on the culinary map," Hickman said.

Hickman said Winthrop and Readfield are home to many retired state employees and educators who were promised retirement benefits that have gone unfilled by the Legislature. He said the state also has failed to fund education as promised, which has led to increased property taxes.

"Our seniors on fixed incomes are further burdened with rising property taxes," Hickman said. "We'll also see painful cuts in the arts and other programs that help develop the creative and critical thinking skills our children will need in order to solve the challenges of the future."

Craig Crosby -- 621-5642

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