PORTLAND — When it comes to electing the new representative for House District 38, Democratic candidate Charles Skold said it is not about choosing someone who will vote a certain way, it is about electing someone who will fight for their constituents each and every day.

“I want to be Portland’s biggest advocate up in Augusta,” said Skold, who, along with Barb Wood and Michael Flaherty, is vying for the Democratic nomination to represent House District 38, which includes the West End and the St. John/Valley neighborhoods. Current Rep. Matt Moonen has served four terms and cannot run again because of term limit restrictions.

The primary election will be held July 14.

Wood, a Portland city councilor from 1988 to 1991, wants to get back into public service after focusing on her career and retiring in 2015 from a 30-year career at L.L.Bean. Flaherty is ready to run for office for the first time.

“I enjoyed my time on the City Council. I only served a term, but I thought I made a difference on a few things,” Wood said. “I had just started working at L.L.Bean then and I knew I needed to jump start my career. I always said when I retired, I would run for office again.”

Now, after several years of getting involved in her community, Wood said she is ready to bring her experiences to Augusta.

Flaherty said he felt compelled to run because he didn’t want to “just sit on the sidelines and critique what I did or didn’t like.”

The economy, Wood said, will be one of her big focuses, especially how to get businesses back open and employees back to work in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Another focus would be climate change.

“We have to do something. There are a lot of things we should be doing,” Wood said, citing the need for a better transportation system to decrease carbon emissions.

Skold said although he wants to address affordable housing and education, climate change is his No. 1 priority.

Portland, Skold said, is on the right track with the joint One Climate Future plan it is creating with South Portland, but the city needs a “continued push and big vision.”

“When it comes to fighting for our future, we need big action on climate change. That means how we use energy, how we generate energy and the way we set up our transportation system in Portland and the area. Climate change is the defining issue of our generation,” Skold said.

Flaherty wants to work on juvenile justice reform. He said Long Creek Youth Development Center, where he volunteered for a month as a student at Cheverus High School in 2013, is not the solution.

“Juvenile justice should be about reform. It should not be punitive,” he said.

Flaherty said he also wants to work to see more state funding come to Portland for homeless services.

“There needs to be more of a state initiative to fund the resources and programming Portland offers,” he said.

All three candidates applaud the approach state and city leaders have taken in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, Skold said, residents all across Maine are doing a good job responding to the restrictions placed upon them and local businesses to help slow the spread of the virus.

“All around the state people are following recommended social distancing, sometime at a sacrifice to themselves, and are finding new ways to do business,” Skold said.

“Governor Mills is doing an excellent job. It is a huge balancing act,” Wood said. “Personally, I lean toward protecting the health and well being of the people of the state.”

Flaherty said he is glad Mills has laid out different standards for residents and businesses in Cumberland County than those in other  counties with far fewer residents.

“We are going to have to stumble through this, but she is constantly re-evaluating what’s best,” he said of Mills.

Jordan Zema had been a Democratic candidate for the House District 38 seat, but withdrew from the race in early May.

 

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