Republican Rep. Karen Vachon, a freshman incumbent, is being challenged Nov. 8 by Democrat Theo Kalikow, a retired university president, in a race for the House District 29 seat representing part of Scarborough.

The candidates disagree on most issues facing Mainers, from the push for income tax reform and the growing drug crisis to November ballot issues calling for a higher minimum wage and background checks for private gun sales.

Kalikow, 75, led the University of Maine at Farmington for 18 years, headed the University of Southern Maine for two years, then served as vice chancellor of the University of Maine System for a year before retiring in 2015. Inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002, she has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Wellesley College and both a master’s degree and a doctorate in philosophy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University, respectively.

Vachon, 57, is a licensed health insurance agent whose professional experience has been helpful as a member of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, she said. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from New England College and has done public relations work in the past for Scarborough Downs and Maine harness racing.

Both candidates financed their campaigns with state funding through the Maine Clean Election Act, according to reports filed through Oct. 25.

Kalikow raised $1,000 in individual contributions and received $8,750 in Clean Election funding, and she spent $8,190 on lawn signs, campaign mailers, postage and newspaper advertising. Vachon raised $825 in individual contributions and received $8,000 in Clean Election funding, and she spent $4,471 on lawn signs, palm cards, mailers, postage, advertising and website hosting fees.

Kalikow said she’s running to “help develop an economic plan that can grow steady, good-paying jobs for Maine people,” she said in answering a Portland Press Herald survey.

If elected, Kalikow said she would support public education at all levels, from early childhood through college. She would “represent Scarborough with respect and partner with our town’s leaders to get things done for our community.” And she would “aim for bipartisan cooperation to get Augusta working again.”

Vachon said she’s seeking re-election to change policies that she believes are hindering Maine, according to her survey response.

“It is time for the hard-working, creative people of Maine to take their state back,” she said. “I trust and believe in the people of Maine more than government. I envision a healthy and prosperous Maine uniquely positioned to cultivate a creative economy where small business thrives and meaningful jobs abound. It’s time for Maine to break free from overtaxation, welfare dependence and energy inefficiencies.”

Vachon said she supports Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s efforts to lower and eventually eliminate the state income tax, in part by increasing and broadening sales taxes. She said it would help attract and retain workers, businesses and retirees.

“Maine’s tax system needs to align with the 21st century economy,” she said. “I support transitioning our tax code from taxing earnings to the more modern model that taxes based on consumption.”

Kalikow said she opposes LePage’s approach to cutting the income tax and believes sales taxes are regressive because they unfairly target lower- and middle-income people.

“(It’s) not what our state needs for tax fairness,” Kalikow said. “It is also uneven over time, as the current tax is quite dependent on automobile sales. There have been a number of good bipartisan tax reform proposals over the years, and we ought to adopt one.”

Regarding November ballot issues, Kalikow said she supports background checks for private gun sales as a way to mitigate what she sees as a public health problem. She said it could be a step toward more creative ways to preserve Second Amendment rights and reduce gun fatalities.

Vachon opposes the background check proposal, saying it’s unnecessary, will be nearly impossible to enforce and “will take law-abiding gun owners and turn them into criminals. … This is a classic example of special interest, out-of-state money telling Mainers how to live.”

While Vachon said she opposes raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 because it will cause businesses to cut jobs, raise prices and possibly close, Kalikow said she supports the proposal because “the minimum wage ought to be at a level where a full-time worker could support a family decently. The current level is woefully inadequate.”

Kalikow supports legalizing marijuana for recreational use, saying, “I favor taxation and regulation over criminalization. The current proposal seems to be well thought out.”

In contrast, Vachon said she opposes the ballot measure because she believes marijuana is a gateway drug and Maine is already struggling with a drug crisis. She said she’s also concerned about the impact on children, tourism and the medical marijuana program.

Vachon said she believes Maine is responding “appropriately” to the heroin and opiate crisis, including passing a law this year to restrict and monitor prescriptions. She said the state needs to focus on preventing addiction as well as providing more detox and residential treatment programs, sober houses and drug courts.

Kalikow said she believes the state isn’t doing enough about the drug crisis. She praised the Scarborough Police Department’s efforts to help addicts get into rehabilitation programs, but she said treatment options should be expanded and Narcan should be more widely available to counter overdoses.