PORTLAND — Robert Mentzinger of Portland is challenging incumbent Rep. Edward Crockett in the July 14 Democratic primary in House District 43, which represents North Deering and part of Falmouth.

The winner of the primary will likely represent the district as there is no other candidate in the race.

“We are suffering under a decade of conservative leadership. Eight years of (former Gov. Paul) LePage and four years of this White House administration. We are living in a world of not us, but me. I want that to be not me, but us. We need progressive candidates who stand up for the people and the people’s rights,” Mentzinger said.

Mentzinger said Crockett has not been that candidate, arguing he has missed votes and put corporations over people in the votes he has cast. Crockett refuted those claims and said he “stands proudly behind my record.”

Crockett said he is seeking a second term in Augusta to continue to serve the residents of his neighborhood.

“We got a lot of good things done this first term, but we have a lot of work still to do,” Crockett said. “When I look at House 43 and listen to my neighbors, affordable healthcare, education, the economy and property taxes are the biggest issues. When I went to Augusta, those were my biggest priorities because that’s what I heard from my neighbors. I’ve lived in the district for 30 years and I couldn’t agree with them more.”

Mentzinger said he would focus on tax fairness and investing more resources into education to attract students to local colleges and Maine School of Science and Math. He would also like to see the motto of the state changed from “Vacationland” to “Educationland.”

Mentzinger is also interested in seeing a bill passed that would provide for the legal export of cannabis.

“The second that happens, Maine will be at the front of this new industry,” he said.

Crockett said the state’s continued response to the coronavirus pandemic will “undoubtedly be atop the docket for next term.”

Although Crockett said he might have done things differently, “the governor and the administration is doing a good job” responding to the health crisis.

Mentzinger said he “applauds the Mills administration” for being able to “act swiftly, be nimble, look at data and then acting accordingly.”

“I can’t imagine going through this under an administration like LePage’s,” he said.

The state has been able to flatten the coronavirus case curve in April and May, but Mentzinger worries about the impact of reopening too quickly.

He sees the calls for police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minnesota last month as an opportunity to look into a better model for community policing. He favors putting more resources into community policing, as well as harm reduction efforts and restorative justice. By and large, he said he has been “disappointed in the City Council’s response,” which he said seems to “be dismissive of Black Lives Matter concerns.”

Crockett said he is fully supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It’s long overdue that we take a good look at racial injustice and police brutality and make sure it is not prevalent in our community. I hope the momentum that has happened over the last few weeks continues,” he said.

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