Monica L Castllanos, Democrathttp://monicaformainehouse.comFacebook Twitter
Office Sought: Representative - District 86
Gardiner Area High School - 1991
University of Maine at Augusta
University of Maine Farmington - 1998
Why are you running for office? As a native Mainer, I love this state. I believe more than 20 years of professional work experience on state and federal policy issues and economic development in both the public and private sector will allow me to serve effectively and make a positive difference. My focus every day will be working on a positive agenda to strengthen and grow Maine’s economy and middle class. Second, I am tired of the name calling and politics as usual in Augusta when we have a Maine economy that ranks 50th in economic growth and lags far behind the rest of the country and the New England region when it comes to job creation. I think it is time we have people in the legislature who are willing to be vocal and visible advocates for getting the people’s business done – and putting Maine people above partisanship and ideology. Third and finally, I believe in keeping public dollars in public schools, that women have a right to make their own health care decisions and that the solution to Maine’s terrible economy over the past few years is more good jobs – not more rhetoric blaming the 90,000 Mainers who are looking for a full-time job, but can’t find one. I want Augusta voters who share those beliefs to have a candidate to vote for this November 4th.
I have more than twenty years of experience in and around Maine politics and policy including eight years as senior advisor and spokesperson for Congressman Mike Michaud. I was proud to work for many years on Mike’s policies related to economic development including the Northern Border Bill – as well as to support his huge body of work on behalf of Maine’s Veterans.
My private sector experience as a consultant has included work on many prominent economic development projects like the 1,100 mile Three Ring Binder rural broadband network, the $11.5 million Sanford Mill redevelopment and, currently, the $10 million clean water and clean water jobs bond on the ballot this November. Each of these projects involves getting the public and private sector to work well together to improve Maine’s economy.
All of this work over 20 years – in the public and private sector – has allowed me to build a large network of friends and colleagues across the political spectrum and across the state which would allow me to be effective in the Legislature from day one.
The federal health care law has offered to pay states to expand their Medicaid programs to provide health coverage to low income Mainers. Do you support Medicaid (or MaineCare) expansion?Yes
I would have been a clear, consistent “yes” vote for expanding health care to over 60,000 Mainers – in both 2013 and 2014 – because it makes economic sense and it is the moral thing to do.
My support is based on my core values and life experiences, not last minute political gamesmanship. As I have heard at many a door on the hill and all around Augusta, access to life saving health care is too important to be treated like a partisan political game.
When it comes to expanding health care for tens of thousands of our most vulnerable neighbors, I agree with the health care advocates, the Maine Hospital Association, the Maine Medical Association, the Maine Council of Churches and the Maine Center for Economic Policy that it hurts Maine and our economy to be the only New England State not to expand health coverage under federal health reforms.
I will always be in favor of expanding access to affordable health care.
Reform of the state’s public assistance programs has been the focus of debates in the State House and on the campaign trail. Do you believe that the state’s welfare programs are too generous?Other
What, if anything, would you change about welfare?When it comes to welfare, as someone who grew up in a home with a single mother where we sometimes struggled to make ends meet, I can tell you that it really burns me when people take advantage of the safety net and don’t work as hard as they can to become self sufficient. That is wrong and it is insulting to everyone who is working hard and playing by the rules. As a matter of public policy, it is not a great statement of courage to say you are “against fraud.” We all are. The laws on the books should be enforced vigorously. If new laws are needed to protect scarce public resources, they should be developed through the regular legislative process, passed and enforced – not trotted out randomly as election year gimmicks that only confuse our cities, towns and most vulnerable neighbors. Most importantly, we need people committed to working together across the aisle to get Maine out of the basement when it comes to job creation and economic growth. That would be my priority focus from day one based on over 20 years of experience in Maine’s public and private sectors.
Do you support raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour?Yes
By how much?As a small business woman, here is what I believe when it comes to the minimum wage: Maine currently ranks 50th in the country for economic growth and has been ranked as the worst place to do business by Forbes Magazine for four years in a row. What we need to do is work together to get our economy growing and creating good, full-time, high wage jobs. Right now, 90,000 Mainers are looking for those jobs and can’t find them. Having said that, yes – we absolutely should raise the U.S. minimum wage. The cost of living has continued to climb and families are still struggling to climb out of the recession – and the minimum wage has not been raised in five years, since 2009. Eighty-eight percent of the people earning minimum wage are adults over the age of 20 – and they are earning considerably less in inflation adjusted dollars than they would have in 1968. While there is a lot of rhetoric about job losses that will result from raising the minimum wage, none of the serious, independent economic studies have found any evidence to back up that claim. This is also a values question for me. If we want an economy that encourages everyone to work hard and play by the rules – then, periodically, we need to raise the minimum wage as we have done since the 1930s to make sure people who are working full-time don’t live in total poverty.
Would you support legalization of marijuana?Other
Please explain your position on legalization?I support marijuana use for legitimate medical care, which is already the law. As far as the completely open-ended question as posed, this is not close to even a back-burner issue for me. We have 90,000 Mainers looking for good, full time work who can’t find those jobs. Maine ranks worst or near worst in the country for economic growth and job creation. I will spend my time focused on improving our economy. If a specific proposal came before the Legislature, I would study the issue carefully and seek input from experts, neighbors, parents and officials from law enforcement, public health and education.