Former Gov. Paul LePage speaks at the Republican state convention on Saturday, April 30, 2022, in Augusta, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / aP

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Joel Stetkis is the chair of the Maine Republican Party.

Now that the Bangor Daily News has published an opinion column that smears me, I suppose it is time to set the record straight.

As the new leader of the Maine Republican Party and a former four-term Maine legislator, Air Force Veteran, husband, father and grandfather, I have strong beliefs about the direction of our state under Democratic Party rule and even stronger beliefs about what we should be doing instead.

First, unlike academics and political elites who, I’m sad to say, seldom descend from their ivory towers to mingle with us ordinary folks, I understand what Maine families are up against this winter.

Skyrocketing electricity bills, heating bills, grocery prices and more are straining hundreds of thousands of Maine households to the breaking point. Democratic failures at the state and federal level on energy markets, fuel supplies and supply chains have contributed to the problems we now face. President Joe Biden’s outrageous March 2021 spending bill, the American Rescue Act, poured even more fuel on that fire and Maine families are the ones who got burned.

While those families are trying to keep food on the table and keep the lights on, they’re sending their young kids off to government-funded schools that are failing to teach them reading, science and math, instead focusing, many believe, on the woke agenda, pronouns and critical race theory-geared agendas.

Businesses are struggling in many places, housing prices have risen out of reach and Democratic leaders in Augusta and some cities seem more worried about their own agendas than the hardships they have created for Maine families.

Many kids can’t afford to go to college without taking on deep debt, but nobody is speaking up about professors like Amy Fried, who smears me as an extremist in this paper, who make six-figure salaries and sometimes teach one course per semester. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party looks the other way when multi-million and billion-dollar endowments pile up at these institutions and taxpayers continue to provide massive subsidies.

Democrats in Augusta are over-taxing Mainers and then returning a pittance to apparently buy votes while eagerly strategizing to spend the rest of hardworking Mainers’ money on pet projects and special interest allies. They should be enacting permanent tax reform that would lighten the load just a little on Maine’s families.

I believe that the majority of Mainers want their government to tax, spend and waste less money.

I believe that parents want their kids educated in areas that will help them live productive, fulfilling lives and raise families — not educate them on why they should feel guilty of their skin color or have them identify the many different genders.

I believe those same kids should be able to get an affordable post-secondary education and a job that pays enough to raise a family — not debt that takes decades to pay off or worse, Democrats mandating that others pay off the exorbitant debt.

Mainers need their electricity bill to come down, for America to produce more heating oil and gas, and a cart full of groceries should not cost a week’s pay.

If BDN columnist Fried wants to label me an “extremist” for my beliefs, I’ll wear that as a badge of honor. But I will never stop calling out the true extremists on the left for the damage they have done to our families, our friends, and our beloved state.

As Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders recently said, the choice now is between normal or crazy.

Do you want a normal Maine you can enjoy and afford or the crazy Maine that Democrats like Fried and the politicians she supports have created?