MADAWASKA — A candidate for the Maine Senate flew to Madawaska Thursday to encourage area business people to run for the legislature so that the governing body will “return to reason and common sense.”
The event was the Madawaska Chamber of Commerce’s first “Eggs ‘n Issues” breakfast. Alton E. Cianchette, businessman and aspiring politician in Pittsfield, was heard by more than 40 business people, even if it was only 7 a.m.
Cianchette, who is chairman of the board of directors of Cianbro Inc. and a candidate for the senate in District 9, told business people that “state government was broken.”
But the good word was, he said, “it can be fixed. While it was out of control, it can be brought back under control.”
He said Maine’s legislature of 183 people should include at least 30 “business people.”
“The state needs you. This is your greatest opportunity for public service because this is a time of the greatest need.”
A member of the legislature for four years in the 1970s, Cianchette is running as a Democrat in a district that includes 20 towns in central and western Maine.
He said he was running because the state needed help. He was in Madawaska looking for other business and industry leaders to run for office because they had the expertise to run the legislature of Maine. He said business people could bring the state back to a state of greatness.
He said Maine was a state where it was nearly impossible to get permits to construct projects. Yet, he said, the state had nearly 50,000 unemployed people for whom the state was doing nothing.
Cianchette said Maine’s bureaucracy was out of control and the state did not have a legislature to bring it back into control. He said Maine’s administration was out of control and, again, the state did not have a legislature to bring it back into control.
He said the legislature and the administration evolved, over the last decade, into large staffs of “good people” but they were expensive and not needed.
He said the legislative staff’s annual budget had increased from $151,000 only 10 years ago, to $4,284,000. The large staffs came about because the legislature “did not trust the administration, and they had good reason not to.
“So, they tried to out-staff each other,” said the businessman. He said both sides “said no to everything. They hate each other (the Republicans and Democrats.) They didn’t discuss issues, they discussed personalities and motives and nothing got done.”
Cianchette said the legislature needed a cross section of Maine people and it needed business people to bring back “trust, respect, a code of conduct and a code of ethics.”
He said the size of the legislature needed to be reduced, along with its cost and the lengths of terms, especially those of the leadership.
He said the reason Maine had such large numbers of people working for government was that no one was required to be responsible. “There is no way we can hold them accountable. There are too many of them,” he said.
“Leadership was not managing in Maine. It became a power struggle,” said Cianchette.
He asked business leaders to make a two- or four-year commitment to their state. “Business people better get involved because they won’t have any business to come home to,” said Cianchette.
He told Madawaska business people at the outset that he had come to talk about “one of my favorite subjects.”