Republican Gov. Paul LePage, leading his party into newfound control of the Blaine House and legislature, touted the private sector’s role in job creation and his plans for education in his inauguration address Wednesday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center.

The speech, which often deviated from prepared remarks, began after a swearing-in ceremony by Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, echoed many of the populist principles that won LePage’s narrow election in November.

“It is time to make state government accountable. It is time to deliver value. It is time to put people first,” LePage said in front of a crowd of roughly 5,000, including former governors John Baldacci, Angus King, John McKernan and Joseph Brennan.

He touted his plan to offer five-year programs in high schools where students can gain associate degrees while earning high school diplomas.

“Students are the most important people in the classroom. Every decision we make and every dollar we spend must be focused on the individualized needs of our kids,” he said. “I believe we need to make vocational education a priority again in our schools. Training our young people in a trade while they earn their diploma is a path to a good living.”

To keep college graduates in Maine, LePage offered the removal of “roadblocks” to doing business in Maine. Though he said he supports “vigorous” regulations in some sectors, he supports lower taxes and utility costs for businesses.

“Profit is not a dirty word. In fact it is the direct and indirect solution to all of our challenges,” he said. “The search for profit is what drives investment and innovation. Without profit, no one has an incentive to create jobs or build our tax base. Profit is what will keep our young people from leaving Maine in search of better opportunities.”

In his speech, LePage referenced Danny Hayes, the son of the assistant Democratic leader in the Maine House of Representatives. He is a mechanical engineering student at the University of Maine who attended the The Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone.

“We have one of the world’s best science and math magnet schools in Limestone, Maine. Motivated teachers, motivated students and and affordable access make it all work,” LePage said. “Let’s work together to make sure Danny Hayes, and others like him, can stay close to home and prosper.

Bruce Myrick of Sabattus, who LePage considers to be an adoptive father, spoke before the inauguration. He noted LePage’s humble upbringing, which included an abusive father and homelessness from ages 11 to 13.

“Paul says, ‘Together, we can move Maine forward.’ We can. Paul is a product of that,” Myrick said.

Fellow Republicans attending the ceremony expressed hope that the scope of state government would change as Republicans hold control of the legislative and executive branches in Maine for the first time since 1964.

“This is very exciting for the state. I think we’re seeing some different people in state government and that’s refreshing,” University of Maine interim athletic director and former Republican candidate for governor Steve Abbott. “I hope that we use this as an opportunity to reorganize state government.”

“I think this is a day that will usher in opportunity for young people and the state of Maine,” Maine 1st District Congressional runner-up Dean Scontras, a Republican, said. “There’s two things they’ve got to address: the budget and the debt.”

Scontras however, also cautioned that Republicans must not let success go to their head and “avoid partisan bickering” as they inherit the majority.

However, not all attendees were as enthusiastic about LePage’s ascension to the Blaine House.

Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, the House Minority Leader attending as part of a special legislative procession, said she was unsure of LePage’s intentions for lack of specificity in policy announcements.

“I am ready for campaigning to be over and to get to work,” she said. “I’m waiting to hear what the ideas are. For me, my priorities are job creation, protecting working families and making sure we don’t go backward on environmental regulations.”

Rep. Justin Alfond, D-Portland, said although he’s looking forward to seeing the details of LePage’s five-year high school plan, he is concerned about the possible effects on budget.

He said states like North Carolina, which has been a leader in the movement, have massive costs for the program. Alfond said he’s not sure how Maine would pay for the infrastructure.

Neil Douglas, 59, of Lamoine came because he wanted to speak with LePage personally. He said he thinks the state of Maine needs to go back to following the constitution.

“[LePage] needs to study the constitution. I believe he supports it but he needs to know more,” said Douglas. “I’ll give him one day. If he doesn’t do something in one day then it will be back to business as usual.”

Natalie Tombarelli, a sophomore at the University of Southern Maine, came with a friend. One of the few young faces in the crowd, Tombarelli said she is sometimes intimidated by being one of the only young people at events like these.

“They always associate young people with liberals,” said Tombarelli, who said she voted for LePage because of his focus on jobs in the campaign.

She said she appreciates that LePage doesn’t push that everyone needs to go to college. She said she thinks some high school graduate are better suited for learning a trade or skill and that LePage will hopefully make this easier to accomplish.

Tombarelli said although she was worried how LePage treated education in his campaign, she thinks he plan for five-year high schools where students can graduate with an associate degree is promising.

The Maine Steiners, an all-male a cappella group from UMaine, performed at the ceremony as well as the 195th Army National Guard band and a Passamaquoddy drumming group, the Little Eagles.

After the ceremony, LePage went back to the Blaine House for “family time” before his inaugural reception at 7 p.m. tonight.

Paul Koenig contributed reporting.


  1. Paul, i hope you look at You will find the university of southern maine has a comprehensive annual financial report. neil douglas


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