CUMBERLAND — In his bid for another two-year term representing state House District 45 in Augusta, Rep. Steve Moriarty, D-Cumberland, faces a challenge from former legislator Mike Timmons.

Moriarty represented the district, which covers Cumberland and part of Gray, from 2012-2014, before returning to his law practice. Timmons, a Republican, succeeded him the next two years, and was defeated by Democrat Dale Denno in 2016. After Denno stepped down in March 2019 due to his battle with lung cancer, Moriarty was re-elected that June to complete Denno’s term.

Timmons and Moriarty, who both live in Cumberland, discussed Maine’s economy during the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as another issue they’d prioritize if elected to the House on Nov. 3.

Steve Moriarty

Maine’s people and businesses have clearly taken “a severe hit” from COVID-19, “and until there is a vaccine available, I think what we need is continued strict management of the overall situation, particularly as it regards the spreading of the contagion and reducing the chances for that to occur,” Moriarty said.

The state must be guided by medical experts, with much input from fields such as social welfare and education, he said, adding, “we have to realize that we’re caught in a situation that we did not create, but can’t fully escape until there’s a vaccine available.”

Moriarty would like to continue supporting clean and renewable energy, which he called “good for the economy, good for the climate, (and) good for job diversity in the state.”

“It’s a difficult path,” he said. “It’s difficult to wean ourselves away from traditional fossil fuel-based sources of energy, but it’s a direction that we have to take nonetheless,” to stave off “further climate change and other potentially harmful effects.”

Mike Timmons

Timmons cited a report from a state forecasting panel, as covered by the Bangor Daily News, that Maine faces a $1.4 billion revenue shortfall in the coming three years, due to the pandemic. “It’s going to take more than one year, and probably a lot more … to get us back on track,” he said, noting the major financial implications to areas like roads and bridges, and human services.

Choosing where to make sometimes-drastic cuts will be difficult, and “it’s going to cause people to have to work together,” regardless of political affiliation, Timmons said.

Schools and students are another major priority. “They have probably had as much of a serious impact as anyone from all of this,” being forced into remote learning and losing out on standard graduations and sports seasons, he said.

Timmons said he would like to see school districts add “people who could provide proper counsel and guidance” in order to meet the needs of students as they return to school after months working from home.

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