Voters’ Guide 2008: State House District 114
By Chris Busby
You can’t say Republican David Fernald doesn’t look on the bright side.
Asked this year about his past political experience, he noted his 2006 run for the State Senate against incumbent Democrat Joe Brannigan. “I came in second,” he said.
Yes, he did — second in a two-man contest in which Brannigan got more than twice as many votes as he did. But hey, second is second.
Fernald, 68, is again one of two candidates in a state legislative race, this time for House District 114, which includes East Deering and several island communities in Casco Bay: Peaks, Cushing, Little Diamond and Great Diamond.
His opponent is Democrat Peter Stuckey, 61, who ran for a Maine House seat back in the early-to-mid ’80s and — as Fernald might put it — didn’t come in first.
The two are vying to succeed Democrat Boyd Marley, who is prevented from seeking a fifth consecutive two-year post by term limits.
Both candidates live on the mainland. Fernald is married and has three grown daughters and three grandkids. He recently retired after 35 years in the computer hardware and software business, and now does some business consulting and finish carpentry work. He has a bachelor’s degree in math from Bowdoin College and an MBA from Stanford University’s executive program.
Fernald has served on the boards of the Maine Technology Institute and the Small Enterprise Growth Fund, a source of venture capital for Maine companies that have both the potential to experience big growth and provide a public benefit. Both were gubernatorial appointments. He’s also served on various condo and neighborhood association boards.
A former football and lacrosse captain at Bowdoin, Fernald was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame last year. On the football team, Fernald, a three-time all-Maine offensive lineman, helped his team reach the state championship game against the University of Maine. That year, he did come in first.
Stuckey worked for 18 years as director of the East End Children’s Workshop in Portland, and has been program operations director at the People’s Regional Opportunity Program (PROP). He currently works part-time as a toll collector on the Maine Turnpike.
Stuckey’s other community work includes membership on the United Way public policy committee, the Children’s Advocacy Council (part of Youth Alternatives Ingraham) and involvement with the East Deering Neighborhood Association. He graduated from Princeton with a bachelor’s degree in religion and literature, is married, and has two children and grandchildren.
Some answers have been edited for brevity and clarity. For additional notes on some questions, see the bottom of this guide.
Do you support a ban or any further restrictions on assault weapons?
David Fernald: Is a member of the National Rifle Association, but is open to considering further restrictions. “I’m not a heavy gun person. I like it from a sportsman’s point of view only…. I see no reason for assault weapons in Portland.”
Peter Stuckey: “Yes. I don’t see any reason why a private citizen needs an assault weapon.”
Do you support the proposal to allow a casino to operate in Oxford County?
Fernald: No. “I definitely do not support that.”
Should Maine abolish its lottery and scratch ticket games?
Fernald: “I don’t think so. I haven’t really thought about it, but I don’t think [those games are] harmful particularly.”
Do you favor any further restrictions on abortion?
Fernald: Said he is “basically pretty much pro-life, except in cases involving the death of the mother, rape and incest.” Said he does not favor further restrictions, but supports a “waiting period in some cases.”
What measures would you support to make the state’s medical marijuana law more effective?
Fernald: Offered no specific measures, but supports doctors’ discretion to prescribe marijuana and said, “If we can help someone by doing it legally, rather than having them go to the black market, that’s what we should do.”
Stuckey: Offered no specifics, but would support efforts in that spirit.
Would you support a statewide ban on smoking on bar and restaurant patios and decks?
Fernald: No. Would leave it bar and restaurant owners’ discretion. “I don’t know where stuff like this stops.”
Stuckey: “I guess my answer’s yes.”
Should Portland and other municipalities be allowed to levy a local-option sales tax?
Should the state provide money to build a megaberth at Ocean Gateway?
Fernald: Undecided; would need more information.
What’s your position on Question 1, the referendum to repeal the beverage tax?
Fernald: Supports repeal. “The Dirigo plan is broken and needs to be scrapped or completely redefined…”
Stuckey: Opposes repeal through the current referendum.
Should intelligent design be taught in public school science classes?
Fernald: “Sure, why not? The intersection between theology and science is a very interesting place.” Added that “teachers have to be responsible in how they do it and not draw opinions.”
Should state lawmakers consider making the legal drinking age in Maine 18 again?
Fernald: “I think it ought be discussed and considered with a lot of good data that would show whether this makes any sense.”
A few notes on the questions…
• As compiled by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: At present, there are no state restrictions on the sale or possession of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons in Maine. Gun owners are not required to register with law enforcement authorities. Gun dealers do not need a state license, but must keep a record of on-premises sales. Individuals and collectors are not required to keep a record or perform a background check on those who purchase assault weapons at gun shows or through private transactions. There are no restrictions on ammunition magazines that allow the shooter to fire scores of rounds without reloading. Cities and towns are prohibited from imposing any restrictions stricter than state law. There is no waiting period required for gun sales.
• According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, Maine currently restricts access to abortion by prohibiting public funding for the procedure for low-income women eligible for state-funded health care. Women under 18 must have the written consent of one parent or other adult family member to get an abortion; that mandate cannot be waived in cases of rape, incest or child abuse, but can be waived if a doctor determines the young woman’s health is threatened and she is of sound mind to give consent. Individual health care providers, hospitals and clinics can refuse to perform abortions with no legal ramifications. No woman may have the procedure without being advised by the attending physician of the estimated length of her pregnancy and the risks associated with pregnancy and abortion.
• Ten years ago, Maine voters passed an initiative allowing doctors to recommend marijuana to patients suffering from a handful of specific illnesses and symptoms (including nausea and wasting syndrome resulting from AIDS and cancer treatments, glaucoma, epileptic seizures, and muscle spasms associated with diseases like multiple sclerosis). Patients can grow a few plants and possess 2.5 ounces or less of the drug, but there is no formal or state-sanctioned system to provide the medicine (or the seeds or plants needed to start growing), leading most patients to turn to the black market or forgo the medicine’s benefits.
• A “local option” sales tax is a tax levied by towns and cities — typically an increase on the state sales tax on meals and lodging — that allows the municipality to keep the additional revenue (rather than send it to Augusta) for local purposes and projects. State lawmakers from cities like Portland have tried unsuccessfully for many years to convince their more rural and suburban colleagues to allow such a tax.
• The “megaberth” is a large dock capable of handling modern cruise ships that was originally planned to be built as part of the Ocean Gateway marine passenger terminal next to the Maine State Pier. When Ocean Gateway ran over budget, the megaberth was cut, and city officials are now trying to figure out how to get the money to build it. Ocean Gateway was built using a mix of local, state and federal funds, and some argue that because ships using the berth would bring an economic benefit to communities beyond Portland, the state should pony up more dough to finish the job.