The MaineToday Media endorsement board is interviewing all of the gubernatorial primary candidates. The board is made up of representatives of The Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel. Videos of the endorsement board meetings are online at www.pressherald.com.

For complete coverage of the race for governor, including profiles of the candidates and their stands on key issues, go to www.pressherald.com. Democrat Libby Mitchell said she’s running for governor because her leadership style can help put Maine on the right footing as the state recovers from the recession.

In an interview Tuesday with MaineToday Media’s endorsement board, the 69-year-old state Senate president presented herself as a consensus builder.

She said she “brings people together and inspires people.”

Mitchell said she helped pass at least two budgets and two bond issues with the support of two-thirds of the Legislature, which required her to win votes from Republicans.

“We got the job done on time with shared sacrifices,” she said.

The Vassalboro resident defended her support of a bill she sponsored that would have required Maine employers to offer paid sick leave to workers.

Mitchell later scaled back her proposal to prohibit Maine employers from firing workers who take paid or unpaid sick days. The bill, which encountered opposition from business groups, was killed in the House.

“You can’t win everything, but you stand up for what you believe is right,” she said. “You can’t be afraid to take on an important issue when you see a real problem.”

The key to job creation, she said, is improving the state’s education system at all levels.

She said that lower tax collections during the recession have caused local governments, schools officials and state officials to make difficult decisions, some of which have led to greater efficiencies.

“If you go immediately to raising taxes,” she said, “we will not do what we need to do.”

She added, “The very last place I would go in my administration would be to raise taxes.”

Still, she would not rule out a tax increase as an option.

“I will not sit here in front of you and say, ‘I will not talk about that,’” she said.

– Tom Bell, Staff Writer