State Senator Stan Gerzofsky (D) holds office hours and meets with constituents on the first Saturday of every month at the Little Dog Café in Brunswick. This Saturday, he sat down with the Orient to discuss his history of public access hours, as well as his stance on the legalization of marijuana, prison development and Brunswick's relationship with the College.

“I’ve been doing these for about 12 years and I’ve never missed a meeting because it’s a great way for me to talk to people,” Gerzofsky said.

Gerzofsky is currently serving his third term in the Maine State Senate, representing the 10th district which includes Freeport, Brunswick, Harpswell and Pownal.

Gerzofsky noted that part of the reason that he enjoys his public hours is that it allows him to connect to the people, even if they don’t always agree with him.

“I have people—just today—we didn’t agree. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t have a nice conversation and discuss our differences,” Gerzofsky said. “She’s still going to continue to vote for me because there are 99 other issues she does agree with me on.”

“This is the way I get, I think, people’s support—because they know I’m accessible,” Gerzofsky said.

The Senator explained that Bowdoin students don't often visit him because they are primarily concerned with national and international politics as opposed to state politics.

Gerzofsky explained that the phenomenal relationship between the College and Brunswick is unique and the relationship is abnormally pleasant.

“You have a terrific relationship with the community—a real true partnership that I don’t see with all college community towns.” Gerzofsky explained. “This is the model.”

Gerzofsky is a co-sponsor of a proposed bill to allow voters to decide whether or not to legalize marijuana. In 2009, he was behind the push to make possession of up to two and a half ounces of marijuana a civil crime—only punishable with a fine. Prior to 2009, possession of over 1.25 ounces was a criminal offense in Maine.

“I’m a hippy from the 60’s—people get high. I think we should talk about bath salts, hallucinogenics, opiates,” Gerzofsky said. “I don’t think it's quite right to taint somebody’s future, to judge them [on] what they did in their earlier years and have that affect them for the rest of their lives.”

Regarding Governor LePage’s recent proposal to fund a new prison, Gerzofsky expressed his skepticism about the lack of credible evidence supporting the proposal.

“In government—you need to show need—or I’m going to worry about greed,” Gerzofsky said.

The senator who represents the district where the prison would be built walked out of Friday's committee session when Gerzofsky questioned the merits of the proposal.

“That’s never happened before,” Gerzofsky said. “It’s that kind of an emotional issue.”

Gerzofsky believes that the argument that the new prison will be more efficient and save money is nonsense because the last time the state rebuilt a prison, Maine lost money.

“It’s going to be $10 million a year—that’s a lot of money. We could take that money and put it in schools which are in far worse condition than that prison,” Gerzofsky explained. “Economic development is not built through prisons.”

Gerzofsky expressed some concern regarding the special interests of prison owners.

“I know the donor list of the governor’s last campaign; I know the donor list for his current campaign. On both those lists you have the private corporations [running] prisons in the United States," said Gerzofsky. "I know on paper there’s a correlation.” 

“I’m not going to say that he’s trying to be sneaky,” Gerzofsky added. “I’m not going to say that at all.”