The Student had the opportunity to interview Roger Fuller, Democratic Candidate for District 59 in the Maine House of Representatives. Fuller has lived in Maine since 1968, when he started school at the University of Maine. He began his long career as a teacher in Lewiston in 1972. Though Fuller moved to Los Angeles for a teaching job from 1999-2014, he returned to Lewiston in 2014, and his family has kept their home in the city.
Fuller formed the Androscoggin Valley Community Network (AVCN) between 1989-1991 in collaboration with Robert Spellman, the Associate Director for Network Services at Bates, linking all the the high schools in the region (Edward Little, Lewiston, Lisbon, Oak Hill, and Turner). The AVCN was the first use of internet relaying communications in Maine, and set up forums for students to exchange data.
Below is a summary of Fuller’s positions on several of the main issues in this election.
On how he can enhance the quality of education from a political perspective:
“I was fortunate be on the original committee that wrote the learning standards for the state of Maine. So the learning standards have been the single most effective document to govern education in the state of Maine for the last 15-25 years. The current movement towards proficiency-based diplomas is, in fact, an enactment, a realization, of the original philosophy behind those learning standards when they were written… The learning by proficiency that we are trying to do needs to be more about excellence in performance and more about social relativism, and not just about earning a grade on a final exam. So I will always be a big believer that the best learning is that learning that is engaged in the community-and you’ve done that at Bates with the Harward Center, which is productive for the student and reflective of what the student has learned… Learning is not measured by a test alone, but a test is a measure of learning.”
On climate change:
“It’s here, it’s obvious, it’s impacting us now, and if we don’t do something we’re going to pay a greater price… We should be creating new sources of energy that are not reliant on the industrial segment of the economy…. We could put a lot of people to work creating solar energy facilities; we could put a lot of people to work creating geothermal facilities; we could put a lot of people to work generating electricity at the Passamaquoddy Bay without a dam.”
On raising the minimum wage:
“Yes, I believe we need to raise the minimum wage. What I like about this proposal is that it’s done in steps. What I also like about this proposal is that it includes those people we call “tipped workers,” and those people deserve- any human being deserves- the right to live a rational, reasonable life.”
On Ballot Question One, which asks voters whether recreational marijuana should be legalized for adults over the age of 21:
“It’s really the responsibility of the voters of Maine to make a decision. My opinion doesn’t count more than that of any other person in the state… On that particular referendum question, I would vote no, as I believe the risks are too high at the current time… I want more research, I want to see what happens in Colorado, I want the feedback from there before I vote yes on that.”
On Ballot Question Two, which asks whether the government should approve an additional three percent surcharge on the portion of any household income exceeding $200,000 per year, with all revenue from this tax being earmarked to fund public education:
“I’m in favor of that. What I like about that proposal is it puts that money for direct instruction, which is the key. That proposal did not put money into administrative costs or fixed costs, or delayed maintenance cost.”
On Ballot Question Three, which asks whether the state should require background checks before a gun sale or transfer between people who are not licensed firearm dealers:
“I think people in the current discussion of the gun control issue miss the history of Maine; we need to study it more. The reason it’s a constitutional right in the state to own a gun is really determine by our early settlers from 1720 to 1820 and the life they lived, and the risks they faced, especially in the Indian wars, were so profound. When the British burned Falmouth (in 1775) and people didn’t have ready access to firearms, it taught me the lesson that the gun law is not just about hunting and fishing, it’s about self-protection. We can’t take that away; we can’t ever abridge that right. At the same time, we have to guarantee that people using that are ready to use it, able to use it, and can use it in sensible ways.
On police reform:
“In the state of Maine, we’re blessed to have an excellent police reform who are doing the job to protect us. I don’t think the issue is necessarily about training, but I think it’s about putting communication back in the community. When the Lewiston Police Department had a community forum and people got to attend it and share their concerns, that’s a step in the right direction.”
On body cameras for police:
“Getting the whole picture is always better than getting a portion of the picture. If the body camera gives us a wide-angle lens and the biggest picture possible, then that’s a good thing. If the body camera is only selecting the thing which is within the viewer’s range lens, that’s not a good thing… We need the context of a situation.”
On the importance of immigrants in Lewiston:
“There are very few of us who are Native Americans. Immigration is a way of life, and for me, thank god that we have immigrants. They bring in diversity, they bring in vitality- I have an opportunity to work with new residents when I tutor on Wednesdays, and I am always impressed with what I see. Now, will there be problems with new residents? Of course there will? Should we be treating the newest of our residents any differently than other people who came to this city? I don’t think we should. They have a right to privacy, they have a right to personhood, and they have a right to the pursuit of happiness.”
On the divisive rhetoric surrounding immigration:
“When you move to the extremes in any political discussion, you create an absence of moderation. What we’re seeing in America and in our state government is an absence of moderation. We need people who can communicate, who can argue intelligently and argue reasonably without arguing emotionally. And those people should be willing to compromise; we don’t move forward when we go to the extremes, we only split the people… I do view myself a middle of the road Democratic who can listen first and talk later.”