Primary Election Profile: Mark Eves

Jun 6, 2018

Mark Eves, a former Maine House speaker, is among seven Democrats running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Eves was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 2008, where he served the maximum allowed four terms, the last two as House speaker, from 2012 to 2016.

Eves earned a bachelor’s from the University of Louisville and a master’s from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He is a family therapist.

Maine Public’s Mal Leary asked Eves why Democrats should choose him over the field:

Leary: There are six other candidates in this race for governor, and many of them are promoting similar ideas. But what specific proposal or proposals make you different than your primary opponents?

Mark Eves

Eves: I think there are a number of proposals that distinguish us as candidates. But the overarching thing that I’ve been hearing people want is a different style in leadership. For nearly eight years now we’ve had a governor that has been very divisive and hasn’t got the results for working people that we expect. So, my leadership skills: Over the eight years I served in the Legislature, four as Speaker of the House, prior to that, worked as a family therapist, with families in their homes working on pretty tough, challenging situations, which taught me a lot about leadership, about solving problems in pretty intense situations. And I brought that experience here to the State House. That’s what I want to do as governor, is be a governor that leads all people, and that we can sit down at a table and work out big ideas, whether it’s about our economy and jobs and how we’re going to increase wages for people, or how we’re going to have a universal health care system that covers every Maine citizen, which I do believe is a reality for Maine, or getting our arms around this opioid crisis — whatever the big challenges are for our state. And we have a lot of them, and a lot of opportunity. We need a leader that brings us together and reminds us that we can see the good in each other even when we disagree.

Leary: You’ve mentioned a number of challenges. But what do you think is the biggest challenge that’s facing Maine and what would you do as governor to respond to it?

Eves: The biggest challenge that’s facing the state of Maine is the fact that we are the oldest state in the nation and 50 percent of our workforce is eligible to retire in 10 years. That’s a remarkable challenge for the state and we need a strategy to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to keep our kids here and attract new families, young workers and new businesses to our state. That is the No. 1 challenge for our state.

Leary: Polls are continuing to show that jobs are the biggest concern for voters in the state, even though we have very low unemployment. What would you do as governor to help grow the economy and put those people to work?

Eves: I’ve got a regionalized jobs plan that is focused on a community-by-community approach. It is looking at the assets of each region in each community — what is there and what the potential is. It’s working with businesses and industry and workers and our education system to make sure that we’re developing workforce training programs that, after students graduate, they have an employable credential that gets them a good-paying job. And you and I both know that what we need in Kittery is different than Madawaska, it’s different than Rumford. It’s different than lots of parts of the state, and we need to make sure that we’re doing a regional approach to economic development. That’s what I did with the loggers in the northern part of the state, that’s what I did with the machinists in the southern part of the state. And both of those programs have a 100 percent job placement rate after graduation and that’s the type of leadership we need for economic development for the entire state.

Leary: Voters will be using ranked-choice voting for the first time this primary election. Assuming that you rank yourself as your top choice, who will be your second or third choice, and why?

Eves: Oh boy. You’re putting me on the hot seat. I have a high regard and high respect for Betsy Sweet. For the most part, I think we share a lot of things in common — yeah, at this point she’s got my second.

Leary: So, who’s got your third?

Eves: I don’t know yet. And that’s an honest answer. I don’t know yet. I’ve got some thinking to do on that.

This interview has been edited for clarity. For a longer version of this interview, aired as part of a Public Affairs special program, click here. For more on Eves’ stances on the issues, and other Democrats in Maine’s gubernatorial race, click here. Visit our Your Vote 2018 page for more elections resources and information.