BRUNSWICK — Kathy Wilson, Corey Perreault and Poppy Arford are running in the Democratic primary for the state House District 49 seat occupied for the past eight years by Rep. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, who is termed out.

The winner of the July 14 primary will face two fellow Brunswick residents, Republican Carole Graves and Green Independent Fred Horch, at the polls this fall.

The three women spoke about Maine’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and an issue they would like to tackle if elected to Augusta. Each of the trio expressed the need for universal healthcare.

Poppy Arford

Maine was “looking really good compared to what’s happening in other parts of the country,” Arford said last week about Maine’s COVID-19 response. “I really believe that the proof is in the pudding … and it’s looking like the choices, the leadership that’s been provided by our governor,” and the Brunswick Town Council, “has set us up to have an excellent outcome, at this point, in the COVID recovery.”

Arford said she was impressed by Mainers, even in regions of the state that are impacted less by  COVID-19, who are wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing. “When push comes to shove, people have trusted the leadership … at the state and local level, to the point where they’ve been willing to follow these guidelines.”

Meanwhile though, she’s concerned about the stress and hardship the pandemic has placed on Maine’s small business community. Bowdoin College’s recent decision to greatly limit the number of students on campus this fall will also have an impact on those businesses, Arford said.

Appreciative of the difference the “robust, comprehensive insurance” her family had when her husband was diagnosed with cancer 12 years ago, Arford said that without that coverage she “would have been living in fear” of the financial harm her family would have experienced, “because this is what happens to people all over our state every day, and it’s been happening for years.”

Ensuring that no Maine resident ever again has to endure that burden is a commitment of hers, Arford said. Protecting the “excellent programming” offered by Brunswick’s school system and securing more state financial support toward public education to help ease local tax impacts are other concerns of hers.

Corinne ‘Corey’ Perreault

Perreault said she supports the course Gov. Janet Mills and her advisers have taken in handling the COVID-19 crisis, noting, “I think our numbers stand for themselves compared to other parts of the country. She has mixed feelings about reopening the state, saying, “I desperately want the local businesses to be able to be open and have the ability to make a living. But being out shopping, and seeing so many people not wearing masks, it’s scary.”

“I wish we had a better sense of ‘we’re all in this together,'” Perreault said. “That would make me more comfortable moving forward.” The increased number of cases don’t scare her, she said, but rather the rise in hospitalizations, she said, noting the importance of maintaining occupancy space in hospitals to treat the infected.

Health care is a concern of Perreault’s that’s been heightened by the pandemic. As business owners, she and her husband have paid 100% of their medical insurance out of pocket, “and we’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to afford to do that,” she said. “So many people are not. It’s amplified now, but it’s a true day-to-day struggle for many people, even during good times, that can’t afford to go to the doctor, period, because of crazy costs.”

Perreault said she’d rather have the money she’s paid into health insurance “go into a pot” to allow everyone to have insurance, “rather than just the select few of us that are fortunate enough to have the means or the employment that covers that.”

Katherine ‘Kathy’ Wilson

Mills has handled the pandemic “quite well,” Wilson said, adding, “I still think there’s more to come, so I think being very cautious” is important. But “I’m very sensitive to the needs of businesses,” since she owns one herself and has had to establish social-distancing protocols so she can continue her pet-grooming operation safely.

Allowing restaurants to set up outdoor seating is a smart idea, she said, although she acknowledged that continued restrictions on indoor dining is difficult on those businesses. “There’s a fine line between what’s safe and what keeps everybody in business,” Wilson said.

She wants to work to ensure Maine towns and cities get the intended 55% in state funding toward public education, “because being on the (Town) Council I know how that has affected us,” she said. “To support the schools to the degree that we have to, means that we can’t pave the roads” and fund police and fire services at the level she would like.

Serving during her time on the council on the Maine Municipal Association’s Legislative Policy Committee, which reviews bills that impact communities around the state, has “given me an insight into a lot of the financial issues” the state faces, said Wilson.

An advocate of universal health care, she said health insurance companies “can do better for us.”

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