Independent Alan Caron is one of four hopefuls vying to succeed Gov. Paul LePage, who’s term limited after eight years. Maine Calling Host Jennifer Rooks asked Caron about what, if anything, should be done about the partisan divide in our state.
This is an excerpt of “Maine Calling” from Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. To listen to Alan Caron’s full appearance, click here.
Caron: The partisan divide is worse now than it ever has been, and I attribute it largely to — we talk about polarization, what drives polarization more than anything else is having to endure these negative campaign ads week after week, which we’re experiencing now in Maine. We’ve raised a generation of Americans on a diet of horrendous attacks on opponents, dehumanizing them, and now we’re beginning to reap the results of that. So I think at some point we have to turn it off. We the people of the state have to not pay attention to that stuff. Otherwise they’ll keep doing it and they’ll keep doing it worse.
Rooks: Do you support the plan to expand Medicaid? If not, what would you put in its place and, if so, how would you pay for it?
Caron: Every two years we go to the ballot box and we see a transportation bond and they usually say, “If we put a dollar on the table, the federal government will put a dollar on the table,” and we all readily sign it and they pass in great margins and we’re all gleeful about it. In the case of Medicaid expansion the federal government said, “We will put nine dollars on the table if you put one dollar.” And we said, “Oh, I don’t know where we’ll find the dollar. This is so hard.” I think it was nonsense really, I think that’s ideology overriding common sense. So I would have signed that bill in a minute. I would sign another one in less time than that.
Rooks: What would you do to address Maine’s workforce shortage?
Caron: The workforce shortage is a function of two different things. One is high-skilled jobs that we’re not prepared for. But the other is even more important: We just don’t have enough people in Maine to fill the jobs. We have a shrinking workforce. That’s because we’re aging in place. All of that can’t be fixed as a symptom. It has to be, we have to go to the basic problem, which is we do not have a growing prosperity in Maine and we’re not going to be able to retain young people and bring more young people here unless we fix the underlying economic problems in Maine.
Rooks: What would you do to address Maine’s opioid crisis?
Caron: This is a deeply personal issue to me. I’ve lost my favorite nephew to opioids. I lost his brother to mental health issues and suicide. These are kids I used to babysit for. It’s interesting to me that the federal government just passed a major piece of legislation to fund opioids work around the country. And that vote in the U.S. Senate passed by 99-1. Generally you couldn’t get the U.S. Senate to agree on the time of day 99-1 but they did that, and so it raises the question of why we would spend so many months and years in Maine trying to find commonsense common ground. This issue to me is a perfect illustration of hyperpartisanship where it was “my way or the highway” from both sides. One side wanted more law enforcement, the other side wants more treatment. Yes, we can do both. I will say this though: This also is tied to a flat economy without opportunity and hope.
This interview has been edited for clarity.