A Republican state representative who works as a police officer is facing a Democratic challenger in House District 19, which covers parts of Sanford.

Rep. Matthew Harrington, 31, who is a police officer in Kennebunk, is being challenged by Jeremy Mele, a 24-year-old who works as a teaching assistant.

Harrington says 15 years in public safety, first as a firefighter and for the past several years as a police officer – along with three years in the Legislature – qualifies him to tackle issues like school safety and the opioid crisis.

He said he supports free-market solutions to lower health care costs, including more competition among insurance providers, buying insurance across state lines, and allowing individuals to purchase insurance in groups.

Harrington said the state should continue to reduce taxes, reduce health care costs, reduce electricity prices, and repeal job-killing regulations. He also said the state needs to consider student loan forgiveness, tuition reimbursement and low-interest education loans, and promote vocational training and careers in the trades.

Harrington is a traditionally financed candidate and raised $7,300, according to the the Maine Ethics Commission.

Mele said he understands the experience of workers faced with rising costs of property taxes, expensive and inaccessible health care and jobs with few to no benefits and low wages.

Mele said his first priority would be to make sure Medicaid expansion, which would serve 70,000 Mainers, is funded. He also said he would fight what he described as price gouging by the pharmaceutical industry.

Mele said he would work to protect gains in the minimum wage, direct state resources to cities and towns to reduce pressures on property tax rates, and support a student debt relief program to attract and retain young workers.

Mele is a publicly financed candidate under the Maine Clean Election Act and raised nearly $7,500, according to the ethics commission.

Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or at:

[email protected]

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