LePage confirms run for governor
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BY AMY CALDER
Staff Writer
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 09/18/2009

WATERVILLE -- Mayor Paul R. LePage says if he is elected governor, the first thing he will do is exactly what he did when he was inaugurated mayor in 2004.

"I will not make a promise and break it," said LePage, a Republican. "I will live up to every promise I make, and the first promise is to make state government considerably more efficient than it is now."

On Thursday, LePage was sitting in the mayor's office at City Hall, where he confirmed that on Tuesday, he plans to announce officially he will run for governor in 2010.

The day will start with a 7:30 a.m. rally and breakfast at Governor's Restaurant in Waterville, followed by a filing of his candidacy with the Maine Ethics Commission in Augusta and then a speech on the steps of the State Capitol.

"In my business, I call it 'tough love,'" LePage said. "The state needs tough love. Programs that are not working need to be abolished; the ones that are working need to be expanded."

LePage, 60, is general manager of Marden's Surplus & Salvage retail stores statewide.

If elected, he said, he will use his skills in business and finance to work on improving education, reforming the welfare system and making the state more business-friendly.

"We are in the top third of all our states in education spending; we are in the bottom third in results," he said.

He plans to reverse that trend, he said, through competition -- by promoting public charter schools, magnet schools and home-schooling, which produce better results, he said.

LePage said people who receive welfare benefits must be allowed to get jobs and become independent without fear of losing their benefits too quickly. Marden's employs many people who have mental illnesses, and they are successful in becoming independent, he said.

He said he believes taxpayers have been ignored as government spending has increased in the last eight years and 13,000 private-sector jobs have been lost.

"Now, can a government create jobs? The answer is 'no,'" he said. "The job as a governor is to create an environment and create public policy that will allow entrepreneurs, the visionary people, to take risks in creating new enterprises. We have to be business-friendly."

LePage was a two-term city councilor representing Waterville's Ward 1 before he was elected mayor. As a new mayor, he consolidated departments, maintained the tax rate the first year and decreased it the following five years, without cutting programs in the city, he said.

Amy Calder -- 861-9247

acalder@centralmaine.com

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