Political Profile Joseph Underwood

Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 6:55 PM EDT
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AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine (WAGM) - We continue our Political Profile series with Maine State House District 5 which features Incumbent Republican Joseph Underwood and Democrat Kevin Freeman. WAGM, with the Aroostook Partnership, interviewed the candidates for the local races. Each candidate had 5 minutes to answer the same 3 questions. Those questions were provided ahead of time. The interviews were all done through Zoom. We begin with Incumbent Republican Joseph Underwood.

Jason Parent, Aroostook Partnership: Alright, we’ll get right into the first question which is, what are your top three priorities if elected, in the coming legislative session?

Joseph Underwood, Republican Maine State House District 5 Candidate: My top three priorities are first, making Maine more competitive for businesses. We must lower taxes, for example, the state income tax. Second, we must lower our energy costs by eliminating expensive and unnecessary policies at the state level. I would like to serve on the energy committees so I can directly affect this goal. Third and finally we must reform our welfare programs so the only truly needy are benefiting from our tax dollars.

Kelly O’Mara, NewsSource 8:And you have about 4 minutes left, so we’re going to move on to the next question which is what are your thoughts on population growth, or perhaps other strategies, to address our qualified employee shortages in the region?

Joseph Underwood, Republican Maine State House District 5 Candidate: First, we must strengthen our vocational education system. I will work within the legislature to encourage public schools to issue at least three credits towards a two year degree at an accredited trade school. Second we must create a business friendly atmosphere within our state. This includes lowering or eliminating unnecessary taxes and regulations. Specifically we need eliminate the state income tax. And third we must end the unnecessary welfare programs that are killing our labor market.

Jason Parent, Aroostook Partnership: So, representative Underwood, kind of continuing on in that theme if you will, the third question is that 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? And we have about three minutes left in our conversation.

Joseph Underwood, Republican Maine State House District 5 Candidate: That’s an easy one. We must eliminate all unnecessary welfare that has been pushed on our people these last two years. We are no longer in a state of emergency, so we need to get off the couch and back to work instead of living off the government. It’s time to go to work. And on a personal note, I’d like to thank WAGM and the Aroostook Partnership for sponsoring this program. Thank you.