YORK COUNTY — Incumbent Republican Heidi Sampson of Alfred is challenged by small business owner, Democrat Kelcy McNamara of Alfred, and Green Independent Justin Reinhardt of Limerick to represent District 21, which includes the towns Alfred and Newfield and parts of Limerick, Parsonsfield and Shapleigh.

McNamara is a newcomer to politics. Reinhardt currently serves on the Limerick budget committee. Sampson, an educator and a farmer, is well-versed in government having served on the state Board of Education for five years and having spent time as a state legislator for two years. Sampson is seeking her second term.

Candidates were asked if they believe that access to guns is a key component in school gun violence incidents and mass shootings and if so, what should be done about it in Maine.

Heidi Sampson

“The key component that must take center stage is the increasing mental health troubles with students. We need to be far more pro-active on this issue,” said Sampson.

Sampson has taken action on the issue by meeting with school resource officers over the last four months to discuss school safety concerns.

“Students with mental health problems can be identified at an early age. This is where our attentions should be focused. Policies need to be generated that will ensure proactive and effective procedures. We have resources in the state which should be networked into the school mental health plans. Weapons, not just guns will be misused by those with mental health issues,” said Sampson.

McNamara believes the legislature is responsible for the distribution and purchase and the gunowner is responsible for the use of the weapon.

“Maine gun owners are some of the most responsible in the country; a fact we should be proud of. Thoughtful gun ownership and our hunting traditions are an important way we care for and value our pristine woods and natural environment. That said, no community is immune from gun violence. It is the responsibility of adult gun owners to control access to their weapons and ensure they are used and stored safely and securely. It is the responsibility of legislature to see that the distribution and purchase of weapons is done legally,” said McNamara.

McNamara reiterated that people from Maine are responsible gun owners.

“I know Maine people recognize the difference between common sense gun safety measures and rules that infringe on our values and rights,” said McNamara.

Justin Reinhardt

Reinhardt would like to take steps to amend gun violence while not infringing on the second amendment.

“I think that aside from stronger background checks and closing loop holes for gun shows for access, we should take simple measures to try to minimize the amount of lives a person can take in a short span of time. Limiting magazine sizes, are one of the simpler things we could do without infringing on the second amendment rights of gun ownership,” said Reinhardt.

Candidates were asked how they propose Maine address rising health care costs.

“We first must consider what mechanisms cause an increase to health care costs and then implement those mechanisms which have been proven to decrease, not to increase the cost of health care,” said Sampson.

One of the solutions Sampson believes in is opening up the insurance market.

“Opening up the insurance market to allow people to shop for the plan that best suits their needs will create competition in turn forcing the insurance companies to provide increasingly better service at competitive prices. Maine had just such a plan and it was clearly demonstrated the right path to affordable health care. PL 90 verified a significant decrease in the cost of health insurance. It allowed for the purchase of health care insurance across state lines and businesses were encouraged by the improved services for their employees,” said Sampson.

Health care in Maine is McNamara’s top priority.

“The first thing I would do is ensure that the we implement the voter approved, Legislature approved, and judicial approved Medicaid expansion. While not a permanent solution to provide affordable care for everyone, it is a step in the right direction. When our citizens have access to health care, they engage in preventative doctor visits, and they go to the doctor sooner when there is a problem — which usually means a quicker recovery, less time out of work, and fewer visits to the emergency room. Healthy workers are critical to keeping businesses running smoothly, which in turn, contributes to a strong local economy,” said McNamara.

Reinhardt believes in a single-payer health care system.

“Maine should be leading the way for a single-payer health care system with or without the assistance of the federal government. MaineCare-for-all, to include mental, health, vision and dental,” said Reinhardt.

We asked candidates their plan to lure high paying jobs to Maine and retain younger workers.

“First of all, luring implies deception or entrapment — this is certainly not the way to encourage good business practices. We want to attract, encourage and support businesses,” said Sampson.

Kelcy McNamara

Sampson has a long list of all the ways she plans to attract young people to Maine.

“We need to start with state government being financially responsible, lower taxes and energy costs, increase the availability of people who have marketable skills for employers, reduce business regulations and improve the climate for businesses to get started, to attract businesses to come to Maine and to help those who are in Maine to thrive. We need schools to educate students with strong academic skills, including CTE and stop focusing on social/emotional learning targets, access to high speed internet throughout the state, continue to increase and improve University/Community College partnerships and access creative capital investments which can include loan programs through FAME,” said Sampson.

McNamara is confident that she can bring the younger generation to Maine.

“As a 39-year-old native Maine business owner with kids, married to someone that can work from home anywhere in the country, I am confident I know what young workers and businesses want. First, they want excellent public schools. Families that want a high-quality education support local business, grow local economies, and are active in their community. Second, they need reliable high-speed Internet. With our quality of life, natural beauty, and proximity to the Boston and NYC markets (with a combined GDP of over $1.7 trillion), Maine should be uniquely positioned to attract small businesses, and remotely located workers who are looking to escape the city,” said McNamara.

Reinhardt believes in infrastructure and industrial hemp.

“Rebuilding our infrastructure, and putting forth the first statewide, publicly-owned broadband services would be a great start to getting younger people more interested in coming to Maine for economic opportunities. As it stands no one is coming to Maine to work for wages that are unsustainable to the cost of living here. We could also start pushing for industrial hemp now that the Denate has passed legislation for it, and get all those mills that were so prevalent in Maine working again,” said Reinhardt.

We asked the candidates what makes them the right choice for voters in this election.

“I have a proven track record of strong bipartisan efforts as most recently demonstrated by the clear majority of both houses supporting an education bill returning control back to the local districts. Additionally, I have been continuously involved and proactive with my constituents and their needs. I have had the opportunity to mediate troublesome bureaucratic issues for individuals and businesses with complicated hurdles involving state regulatory challenges. These difficult encounters have been shepherded to successful conclusions. I have also conducted hours of independent research (beyond the walls of the State House) regarding numerous pertinent information directly impacting my constituents. One example, most recently, is my focus on school safety concerns, gathering much needed information for potential thoughtful policy,” said Sampson.

McNamara believes her unique perspective makes her the right choice for voters.

“My experience working and serving people of all walks of life has given me a unique perspective: I see the struggles of the working poor; I see community members trying to hold on to their moral values; I see business owners wondering how taxes and health care policy will affect their livelihood; I see the effects of underfunded schools; I see passionate and determined people — young and old — working through drug addiction or other traumatic life situations. But most importantly, I see that no matter their path in life, they all have one thing in common — they want their government (local, state, and federal) to see them, listen to them, and make policy and financial decisions based on giving everyone equal access to basic needs like health care and education so that they can pursue their goals and contribute to the community in which they live,” said McNamara. “I believe what voters want is to be heard, to be respected, and to know that their representative is working for them rather than for outside interest groups or party politics. I will be the voice of my constituents. I see them. I hear them. And their concerns are my concerns. I will never be blinded by special interest groups or bipartisan tribalism. If they elect me in November, I will bring their voice to Augusta.”

Reinhardt believes his Green Party status makes him the perfect choice for voters.

“I represent people, not corporate interests. If you want money out of politics then don’t give it a chance to participate. The Green Party is the only party that does not take corporate funding. In the Green Party we believe in putting people over profit, and making sure that we are environmentally conscious. I believe that we can do better than corporate handouts to war manufacturing, and I believe we are better than robbing those with the least among us to pay for those breaks to corporatism,” said Reinhardt.

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