ROCKLAND — What is the difference between 1st Congressional District hopefuls Dennis Dutremble and Bill Diamond?
“About 100 pounds, I would say,” Diamond told the Knox County Democrats Tuesday night at the Stella Maris Retirement Home.
Two of the four Democratic candidates spoke to about 30 county party members. Candidate Bonnie Titcomb had a representative at the meeting but William Troubh did not.
Both candidates present emphasized their careers in education as part of their qualifications to replace Democratic Rep. Tom Andrews. Both parted company with Andrews in their support of Loring Air Force Base and both supported a national health care program.
Dutremble said he was a teacher by trade who spent 16 years in the Legislature but a lifetime in politics and public service. The burly “Duke” started in politics at age 9 by passing out leaflets for his father, who was elected York County commissioner, then mayor of Biddeford. His uncle, Richard Dutremble, was sheriff of York County and U.S. marshal. Dutremble’s grandfather was shot in the line of duty as a Biddeford policeman.
“For me, public service is more than a duty, it is the highest fulfillment a person can have. One person can make a difference and change history,” he said.
In the Legislature where he was elected Senate president, Dutremble said he worked to end “bickering and partisanship” and developed new communication and cooperation, a talent which would be applicable in the nation’s capital.
Diamond said he had more varied experience than Dutremble, including 20 years teaching at the elementary, high school and college level plus running small businesses which included a weekly newspaper, karate and security companies, and a tutoring program.
After his 10 years in the House and Senate, Diamond became secretary of state five years ago, and found $450,000 in uncashed checks sitting in backlogged files. During his administration, the time for renewal of corporate licenses dropped from three months to two days. An aggressive registration program was instrumental in leading Maine to the highest voter turnout in the country, he said.
With only two representatives, a Maine Congress member must be “a force” in Washington, Diamond said. If elected, Diamond said, he would focus on jobs and education including adult education and retraining for workers who lose jobs in the defense industry. Maine has the fifth-highest defense job ratio of any state and will have tremendous need for retraining as the defense budget shrinks, Diamond said. More than 90 percent of new jobs are created by small business which needs tax breaks, low-interest loans and “a pat on the back” Diamond said.