Augusta Insider interview with Matt Jacobson Print Page

Date: July 16, 2009
Author: Augusta Insider

Augusta Insider was fortunate enough to get a chance to interview several of the declared gubernatorial candidates. Our first interview is with Republican candidate Matt Jacobson.

This last budget was extraordinarily difficult, and it looks like next year the deficit could approach the billion-dollar mark or even more. What makes you want to be governor in this climate?

With our budget issues and stagnant economy, we are on a course to be the first generation in American history to leave our State worse than we found it. That prospect is not acceptable to me. I cannot stand by and watch as my Children’s opportunities are eroded. We should be doing better – and we have an obligation to try. I have the right experience and track record to move Maine to a path of opportunity.

How can we reverse recent trends and put Maine on a path to economic prosperity?

My vision for Maine is simple. We become world class. We do that by focusing on what we do best. And we confront – and overcome – the obstacles that are holding us back. Because of my track record and experience in creating jobs and opportunity, I can lead us out of our current problems. I can focus us on a coherent and coordinated strategy to create jobs while we answer the scared call to protect this special environment we are so fortunate to steward.

How do you view the legacy of the Baldacci Administration?

I’ll let historians judge Governor Baldacci’s tenure. My focus is on making Maine world class, helping private sector business create jobs, and creating the opportunity that our children and our families deserve.

There hasn’t been a Republican governor since the early 1990s, and Republicans haven’t controlled the Legislature for decades. Is 2010 the year for a Republican resurgence in Maine?

There is absolutely no question about it. Maine’s economy is struggling. More than 17,000 of our neighbors have lost their jobs since January 2009; countless others are working at reduced hours or part-time. Certainly we’ll need to make our state government less costly. But no organization ever cuts its way to prosperity. We need to grow jobs and opportunity. That is where my unique experience and leadership will play a significant role. I’m a private sector job creator, and it is time to bring that spirit to Augusta.

What are going to be the most important issues for Maine in the next five years?

All Maine’s challenges can be softened with a robust economy that creates opportunity. High energy costs, ageing demographic, high taxes and health care costs, and poor infrastructure – they are all symptoms of this larger truth. The lack of opportunity for our children forces them to leave home in search of a quality job. Our politicians have given us a poorly thought out tax structure and an obsession with maintaining people in poverty – rather than creating an environment of opportunity that actually REDUCED the number of Mainers who needed help.

We can solve these problems by becoming world class in all that we do. I have lead organizations that relentlessly focus on delivering ever better customer experiences at reduced cost. With the right leadership, our state government can do the same.

You’ve never held elective office before. Do you think this puts you at a disadvantage to a nominee with extensive government experience?

How have the lifetime politicians done for us? Maine is routinely placed among the worst places in the country for job creation. Our state budget is in tatters and our revenue projections can’t be revised downward fast enough. Our politicians have not focused on the real issues – from education to energy and taxes to regulation, lifetime politicians have failed us.

The question for Maine is can we stand to elect another career politician with no experience running a successful business? Who has never created jobs and opportunity on an international stage? Who has never served our country in uniform and understands what real sacrifice and service is? The answer to those question is an emphatic no!

We need a governor with the right experience. We need a governor with a track record of success and leadership. We need a governor who knows how private sector jobs are created and has actually brought some jobs to Maine. I am the only candidate with those qualifications.

What one piece of legislation in this past legislative session did you consider most important, whether you were for it or against it?

It was the legislation that wasn’t passed. When the Federal Stimulus was first announced, I said that while I did not think it was a good idea, that we in Maine had a responsibility to spend the money wisely. We needed to use this one-time opportunity to make the kind of capital investment that would significantly change our economic foundation. I suggested that we look at many opportunities – high-speed rail service from Portland to Montreal would grow Maine’s economy into the future. Improvements to our electric grid, alternative energy production and use, and energy efficiency would help create opportunity in Maine. I suggested several other ways that we could spend significant money and get significant private job creating opportunities in return.

At the time I challenged our leaders: My daughter is three years old. When she is 30, will I be able to look her in the eye and tell her we did our best to make sure she had the chance to succeed in Maine?

The answer is no.

Our state politicians took about $600M in one time Federal Stimulus money to balance the budget and fund failed programs that will actually retard our growth prospects.

And our kids are going to pay for our failure. That is simply not acceptable.

As a businessman and a first-time candidate, how do you view the political environment in the Statehouse?

I see a place that is calling out for leadership. I’ve worked with many legislators and government officials in my role at the St. Lawrence & Atlantic and more recently at Maine & Company. Most of these people want Maine to do well, and want the right things for our children and our families.But often they lack the experience and vision to make the correct choices.

The whole organization is crying out for leadership, vision and direction. Augusta needs to have a leader who has worked in, and developed world class organizations. Someone who knows that efficiency and excellence are not mutually exclusive. Someone who knows how to confront obstacles and turn them in to opportunities. I am that leader.

URL: Augusta Insider

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