Democratic Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio is being challenged by Republican Pamela Buck in the race to represent House District 18, which covers part of Sanford.

Mastraccio, a retired public health dental hygienist and office manager for her husband’s optometric practice, served nine years on the Sanford School Committee and 12 years on the Town Council. She is House chairwoman of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee and a member of the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee. She is seeking her fourth term.

Buck was a member of the School Board in Caribou. She worked for 10 years as town clerk, treasurer, administrator and in other roles in Maine municipalities and served on several committees while a resident of Aroostook County, including the Caribou budget committee, facilities committee and others. Buck is employed as human resources coordinator for York County Shelter Programs and is a real estate broker.

Mastraccio said fulfilling the will of the people and expanding Medicaid would be a good first step in controlling health care costs. “I believe we need a version of a single-payer plan, perhaps a compact with New Hampshire and Vermont, that negotiates and controls medication costs, eliminates the middleman and provides benefits similar to Medicare,” she said.

Mastraccio said the state needs to articulate a long-term economic strategy to guide efforts to attract and maintain workers. “We have high-paying jobs available right now that are going unfilled because of the lack of a skilled workforce. You can’t attract jobs without a trained and ready workforce.”

She said a plan could include “job training for displaced and underemployed workers, state policies that attract and support legal immigrants to our state, universal early childhood education, enhanced career and technical educational offerings, targeted student debt relief and a focus on growing the small businesses already present and committed to staying in Maine.”

Buck said the state does need to provide services to those qualifying for Medicaid, “but the state must fund the benefit … and not leave our hospitals in debt again. The rising cost of health care is a difficult issue. Maine employers and workers are paying the increases of health care for themselves along with the expenses for individuals that are on MaineCare that do not incur any expense.”

Buck said it is essential to educate youths earlier for the careers and jobs that Maine currently has on the horizon. “Workforce development needs to join forces not only with our offered education but collaborate with our existing businesses,” said Buck.

She said a combination of education, municipalities with assertive job creation and strong state economic plans will provide opportunities for existing businesses that want to stay in the state and attract new business to Maine – and in so doing and will attract young Mainers.

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