Thursday, December 12, 2013
AUGUSTA -- Waldo dairy farmer Walter Whitcomb is Gov. Paul LePage's choice to lead the Department of Agriculture.
Whitcomb, who served 12 years in the Maine House of Representatives, has owned Springdale Jerseys Inc. for 32 years.
"He's been an industry leader in herding cows and now he's going to come to Augusta and work with the Legislature," LePage said during a Cabinet Room press conference. "He's been a good steward and leader in this industry."
Also Wednesday, LePage nominated lawyer Paul Sighinolfi as executive director for the Maine Workers' Compensation Board.
Sighinolfi currently heads Rudman & Winchell's workers' compensation practice group. In 2002, he was appointed to a three-year term on the Board of Overseers of the Bar, and was reappointed to the board in 2005.
Both men face legislative committee review.
In remarks at the news conference, Whitcomb, 58, said Maine's short growing season, geographic isolation and high business costs present challenges to farmers.
"This administration recognizes that rural communities and the entire state need a strong agricultural economy," he said. "Maine really can be and should be the market basket of New England."
Before the news conference, organic dairy farmer Wilson Sanborn said he believes Whitcomb will be a good commissioner.
"He ought to know something about the dairy business," Sanborn said. "It's good the governor has people who know what everybody's dealing with."
Democrats are not expected to oppose Whitcomb's nomination.
Sighinolfi, 62, of Brewer, said he wants to make sure the workers' compensation system is "fair and evenhanded."
"It has become a system of form over substance," he said.
Susan Cover -- 620-7015