BIDDEFORD  — Republican Scott Normandeau, a consultant living in Arundel, is challenging incumbent Susan Deschambault, D-Biddeford, a retired social worker with the Maine Department of Corrections, for the right to represent State Senate District 32 in November.

Senate District 32 includes Alfred, Arundel, Biddeford, Dayton, Kennebunkport, Lyman.

Deschambault, who is the completing her first full term as a state senator (she served a partial term in 2016 what the senator holding the seat resigned), also served on Biddeford City Council the Biddeford Police Commission, was chair of Biddeford Planning Board; the Maine Criminal Justice Commission and a number of other boards and commissions.

Normandeau did not list any political experience in a questionnaire poised to each candidate.

Candidates were both asked the same series of questions.

When asked whether she thought if access to guns was a key component in school gun violence incidents and mass shootings and how Maine address this, Deschambault said, “I believe that when we send our children to school, we shouldn’t have to worry about their safety. The rise in gun violence in our schools is concerning. … We must put aside partisan politics and instead have a dialogue that is committed to putting forward common sense solutions. Here in Maine, we have to consider our long standing heritage of hunting, and balance that with the need for enhanced gun safety measures. I hear all the time about family gun collections that are heirlooms passed down from generation to generation, or annual father-son, father-daughter hunting traditions. It’s not these traditions that need curbing. We do, however, need to stop the senseless violence occurring in our schools, our workplaces, our entertainment venues and find a way to pass common sense gun safety legislation. The purchase and use of bump stocks and assault weapons needs to be on the table.”

Scott Normandeau, a Republican from Arundel

I am a strong support of the Second Amendment, and no I do not believe that guns are a key component to school violence,” Normandeau, a retired colonel, said.

Regarding rising health care costs, Normandeau said, “I am no expert on health care and would have to look to experts for legislative support. Without that kind of support I have had personal experience that is interesting. I decided that I needed a simple test and inquired at a local clinic as to the cost of the procedure. A simple question that would decide for me the value of the test in personal money. It took some time but the answer came back of around $500. At this point I made the decision that it was worth $500 to have it done, however when all the bills came in I was charged over $1,700 for the simple test. How can we ever begin to bring down costs of a system when no one actually know what anything costs?” 

State Sen. Susan Deschambault, D-Biddeford

Our health care crisis is a result of people not being able to afford to get the care they need, Deschambault said, “either because they can’t afford to buy private insurance in the marketplace and so they go uninsured or they can’t afford the high deductibles and co-pays. Both circumstances yield the same outcome — which is that people don’t get the care they need, when they need it — resulting in sicker people and more costly treatment. Preventative care is key: it keeps people healthier, detects chronic illness earlier —before conditions are costly to treat or are life threatening, and it ultimately shifts the model from sick care to health care. We can help 70,000 Mainers by implementing the law (passed overwhelmingly by Maine voters) to expand Medicaid insurance. Next, we can continue investing in statewide public health nurses in many of our Maine communities”

In order to attract high paying jobs and retain young, Maine workers, Deschambault said, “Currently we have two programs that are on the right track to attract and retain young people to Maine. First is the Opportunity Maine program which allows college graduates who live and work in Maine to have a portion of their student debt paid by their employers. It’s a win-win. … Next, we need to build upon and expand existing efforts to re-train and create career pathways for our returning military veterans. … We also need to expand efforts that match young people in secondary and post-secondary programs with businesses in mentor/internship programs. This hands-on training is key to success for the employee and employer to ensure long term investment. Aside from talent, we need to also arm business with other tools such as broadband which is a great need statewide. This is an up-front investment that will pay dividends in the years to come for our children and our grandchildren. Ultimately, we need to make Maine an attractive place to do business — providing the people power and the technology to succeed.”

To attract high paying jobs and retain Maine’s young people, Normandeau said he would start “lots of initiatives,” as well as “develop needed knowledge/technical base so we grow talent and attract key employers.”

Deschambault said voters should reelect her on Nov. 6 because, “I have a strong foundation and broad exposure to many facets of serving in government affair” and worked successfully with a large variety of people during her 40 years of work experience. “As I enter my third term in the Senate,” she said, “I can say that I am a practical lawmaker. I go beyond party politics, work across the aisle, and listen to all sides of an issue. … I stay connected with the needs of District 32 and know that each community within this district is unique. … I am committed to getting things done for the people of our district; this is my primary responsibility. No problem is too big to be solved and I am determined to find solutions.”

It’s his lack of political experience that makes him the right choice to be the state senator representing district 32, Normandeau said. “I know how to make decisions, 30 years in the military and well as a leadership role in the Pentagon, I know how to get results and make a bureaucracy work.”

— Associate Editor Dina Mendros can be contacted at 780-9014 or [email protected]

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