Political Profile Bernard “Ben” Paradis

Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 6:59 PM EDT
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AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine (WAGM) -We continue our political profile segment. WAGM, with the Aroostook Partnership interviewed each candidate in the local house and senate races. They each had 5 minutes to answer the same three questions. The interviews were all done through Zoom. We look at Maine State House District 2 between Republican Roger Albert and Democrat Bernard “Ben” Paradis.

Kelly O’Mara, NewsSource 8: What are your top three priorities if elected, in the coming legislative session?

Bernard “Ben” Paradis, Candidate State House District 2: Let me thank you for giving me this opportunity. I have several priorities, but probably one that concerns my constituents or future constituents the most is the cost of energy. Home heating fuel, electricity, maybe we can do something from a legislature point of view to increase the amount of influence that the PUC can apply to electrical companies to moderate their increases and also can try to help with the home heating or by increasing the subsidies we have there. My second big concern is that the tax load that people in Maine are, especially up here in the Valley, have to have in order to support the municipalities in the state, continue to have state subsidies for municipal governments, which they’ve started doing again and I’d like to see that increase and also to maybe help with mortgage, especially for senior citizens to help them with their mortgage payments, not morgage payments, but tax payments. And the third issue has to do with the cost of taking care of businesses when they have all kinds of things like hurdles come up. Could we continue to do help for places like Twin Rivers, hospitals that employ a lot of people and also create incentives for businesses to expand or increase the number of employees that they have.

Jason Parent, Aroostook Partnership: You’ve used up about 2 and a half minutes, so you have 2 and a half minutes remaining for the following two questions. The next question is, what are your thoughts on population growth, or perhaps other strategies, to address our qualified employee shortages in the region?

Bernard “Ben” Paradis, Candidate State House District 2: We have been suffering from out migration. A lot of our young folks, they leave to do higher education and very few of them come back. I think the introduction of high speed internet is going to help that by allowing people to work from home. I’ve had a nephew and a granddaughter that have both come back to the Valley and one is from Connecticut and the other is from Auburn and they really love it up here. Maybe also making it easier up here for people to find jobs up here by offering training in the schools. That would align themselves, like technology jobs where there are openings right now. Northern Maine is offering programs and maybe we can continue doing tuition free instruction. That would be a good thing.

Kelly O’Mara, NewsSource 8: Ok, you have about a minute and a half left for this last one, which is, Aroostook County’s workforce participation rate continues to decline and is currently at 54% for residents 16 and older. What do you feel the barriers are to increasing this important metric and what are your ideas to reverse this trend?

Bernard “Ben” Paradis, Candidate State House District 2: One of the things that I’m really hopeful is that we can address that maybe by improving the amount of daycare opportunities for young families. Parents that have offspring. One avenue that might work out, I think that it would get somewhere, is they incorporate daycare into our public schools. We have pre kindergarten now, maybe we could extend that further down. There’s lots of spare rooms now that the school populations gone down. School buildings could be used for a place to do daycare. And hiring maybe some of the people like students in their spare time, might be able to help take care of those special people. By having affordable daycare we could definitely attract young families.