Republican State Sen. Ron Collins is being challenged by Democrat Gary Connor and Maine Families Party candidate Richard Burns for the State Senate District 34 seat, which includes Acton, Kennebunk, Lebanon, North Berwick and Wells, and part of Berwick.

Ӣ Burns, 57, of Berwick, is married with five children, ages 10 to 40. He is an artist and carpenter.

He served in the House of Representatives from 2004-08.

Burns said global trade agreements like NAFTA have caused the loss of many jobs.

Maine has the oldest housing stock in the country, said Burns. There are programs to help people who can’t afford to heat their homes, but, he said, the money “just passes through the pockets of the poor to the oil companies.” Burns said that money could be better spent making the housing stock more efficient, and the work done to the homes, such as replacing doors and windows, would stimulate the local economy.

Burns said he’s talked to people with solar panels on their homes, and many say the panels produce more energy than the homeowners can consume. Burns said he believes those with solar panels that produce excess energy should be paid for that excess. He said schools could use solar panels and make money off excess energy to help pay for other expenses.

Burns said Thomasville, Georgia installed a municipal Internet service, which Burns said has created a strong Internet system and “virtually eliminated” property tax. He said this model could be looked at locally to reduce property tax costs.

Ӣ Collins, 68, lives in Wells, and is married with two adult children. He is a former part owner of a food brokerage company and is semi-retired.

Collins served four terms in the House of Representatives. He is serving his second term in the state Senate. Collins also served on the Wells Planning Board and Comprehensive Plan Committee.

Collins said he would like to see the state appoint a special task force to talk to industry leaders in other New England states to determine why businesses aren’t coming to Maine.

Collins referenced a partnership between Pratt and Whitney and York County Community College that has qualifying graduates trained and ready to enter good-paying jobs. He said there needs to be more partnerships like it.

Collins said the state needs to spend within its means, like those managing a household budget.

“I don’t think Maine people can absorb any additional taxes,” he said.

He said towns rely on revenue sharing when creating their budgets, and it shouldn’t be reduced.

Collins said maintaining the state’s transportation infrastructure, including highways, airports and seaports, is very important for safety purposes and to make the state attractive to new businesses.

Ӣ Connor, 41, of Kennebunk, is married with eight children ranging in age from 2 to 16 years old. A registered nurse by trade, he works as a medical researcher.

He served as a state representative from 2006-10.

Connor said Maine has capable people, but many lack the skills necessary for the available jobs, and the state needs to invest in its secondary education system.

“The creation of jobs is built around a strong workforce,” he said.

Connor said, if elected, he would like to reinstate the circuit breaker tax refund program to the level it was at before he left the Statehouse.

He said he is in favor of municipal revenue sharing.

“I think it’s an important function of state government to help local communities,” he said.

Connor said that Maine has one of the largest elderly populations, and the state needs to help seniors age with dignity and be able to stay in their homes.

He said expanding Medicaid would create new jobs.

Connor said the state needs to ensure that recipients and providers aren’t abusing the welfare system so that money can go to those who need the services.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, Ext. 325 or [email protected]

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