June 2, 2023

Barbara Merrill, Independent Candidate For Maine's Governor Answers Questions

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Barbara Merrill, Independent Candidate for Maine Governor, has sent me her answers to the six questions posed to four of the candidates about hunting, fishing and the outdoors in Maine. The original questions, exactly as they were presented to the candidates are posted followed immediately by her responses.

In her answers, she expresses willingness to participate in further discussions with readers of this blog and enlists some of your input as well. Comments are open and readers are encouraged to leave comments and/or ask further questions. I will forward any questions on to her but I have no guarantees that they will be answered.
Babara Merrill - Independent candidate for Maine Governor

Questions For Candidates For Maine Governor

1. In an effort to protect hunting and fishing heritage, some states have enacted a Constitutional Amendment protecting that heritage. Proponents of an amendment say it will reduce the millions of dollars spent on fighting groups opposed to hunting and that guaranteeing a protected industry will strengthen the Maine economy, to name some reasons. Those opposed to an amendment mostly say it is unnecessary, that existing laws protect hunting and fishing now. Would you support a Constitutional amendment that would guarantee the protection of Maine’s hunting and fishing heritage?

1. I do not believe we need a Constitutional Amendment and fear that if we tried to enact one and failed that it would lead some to conclude our Maine heritage isn’t already protected. What we need is to elect leaders who understand the importance of hunting and fishing to Maine people and who have the ability to convey this to new comers to our state. I try to do this in my book Setting the Maine Course – We Can Get There From Here. It’s available on line at BarbaraMerrill.Com and at most Maine bookstores. I would be interested in feedback from the readers of this blog.

2. Maine, not unlike many other states, struggles to fund the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The bulk of funding comes from license fees from hunters, fishermen and trappers, etc. What are your plans to provide a budget to the MDIFW that meets the demands of sportsmen and the general public? Hunters, fishermen and trappers are interested in creative ways to enhance the budget and cut out nonsense programs (as they see them). Can you share with us any creative ideas you might have?

2. I am committed to making certain that the nonconsumptive users pay their fair share of the costs of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Honestly, I’m not sure I have yet seen the right solution and I don’t want to be one of these candidates who pretend they’ve got the perfect solution for every problem. I do believe if we listen to the Mainers who care most about any subject we can come up with a lot better way to do things. In that spirit, I would like to encourage bloggers to send their ideas to Barbara@BarbaraMerrill.com and promise that after hearing all your ideas, I will share what I think will work with readers of this blog.

3. As governor, would you move toward changing any current laws regarding the right to keep and bear arms? Please be specific.

3. I would not.

4. Maine spends millions of dollars each year stocking many of our waters around the state. Do you believe this is a worthwhile expense? Would you reduce, increase or leave the same, the amount of stocking that is done?

4. I do think it is worthwhile and overtime we need to find ways to do much more. Our current investment pays us back many times and if we increase it we can bring many more people to all parts of our state. These fishing men and women will contribute to our economy with the supplies they buy and the money they spend on lodging and guides. But that is just a part of our return on investment. I have met people who moved to Maine, bringing jobs with them, people who moved here to enjoy our fishing. Our environment is a magnet that can draw thousands of jobs to Maine if we understand what we’ve got and exploit it wisely.

5. Maine lags far behind other states in percentage of land owned by the public trust. Those opposed to spending public dollars for the purchase of lands in Maine argue that there is ample private property available for hunting, fishing, trapping, and all forms of outdoor recreation. Do you see Maine’s private available lands shrinking and do you support the further investment of purchasing public lands?

5. I am a supporter of public land purchases and have advocated that we do more, not just in northern Maine, but that we preserve open spaces in southern Maine as well. I regret that the current spirit of partisanship in Augusta has retarded these efforts. However, there is one issue we need to get settled: we need to make certain that these land deals take account of traditional uses such as hunting. Last session I tried to convince the party leaders to allow me to introduce a bill which would have created a commission whose membership included hunters and snowmobilers. This commission would set state policy, in an open process that would protect hunting and fishing rights in all future land purchases. Neither political party seemed to think this was a priority, but I will do it by executive order on my first day as Governor.

6. Are you in support of or opposed to Sunday hunting in Maine? Could you please give specific reasons for your stance.

6. I am opposed to Sunday hunting. When the item came up in the recent legislative session, I contacted every hunter in my district with a survey asking their opinion. Over 90% of them opposed Sunday hunting. I think that this is because of the unspoken truce between landowners and hunters which goes like this: I’ll let you hunt on my land because it is the Maine neighbor thing to do even though it is sometimes an inconvenience, but give me one day a week to mend my fences when I can be sure no one else is sharing my land.

General Comments:

In some ways I think hunting and fishing are the canary in the cage for traditional Maine values. When large groups of our citizens and the people they elect to state office don’t appreciate the importance of these traditional outdoor activities, then all aspects of traditional Maine are at risk. So I look forward to working with you on an ongoing basis to improve the general level of support all across Maine.

Tom Remington