GORHAM — Seeking a third consecutive term in Legislature, incumbent Maureen Terry faces challenger George Vercelli in the Maine House District 26 race, representing part of Gorham.

Terry, a professional chef, and Vercelli, a retired civil engineer, agree the economy impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is a prime issue facing the state.

The election is set for Nov. 3.

Terry

Terry said Maine’s primary challenge, “along with every other state and country on the planet,” is the economy.

She said Maine is one of the states with the best chances of a quick recovery from the current economic crisis.

“With our balanced budget and curtailment on spending as well as our current containment of the virus, we are in better shape than most,” Terry said.

She said the state’s bread and butter, the hospitality industry that she has spent her career in, has had some major losses this year and the state will need to do what it can to help.

“We must find creative ways to keep what we have by offering investments and incentives and make common sense, temporary or permanent changes to the challenges that the industry typically sees,” Terry said.

The next major challenges, Terry said, are directly related to the pandemic. Technology systems must be updated and “we must continue and do better at practicing the guidelines our own CDC has already directed and brace ourselves for new health challenges,” she said.

“We absolutely must address the broadband deficits in our communities, not only for business but for our children’s education. We need
to update antiquated systems so government departments, built to help Mainers, can do so without frustration and mistakes,” Terry said.

Terry said these issues and many others, will take public-private partnerships to accomplish.

“We must facilitate those relationships so, if ever we find ourselves in a situation like our current crisis, we are fully prepared to battle it with confidence while doing no harm,” Terry said.

Vercelli

Vercelli expects by the time he is in office that Maine should be open again for business with some health guidelines still in place, but the impacts of the pandemic and the state-wide shutdown will be significant on the economy and education, he said.

The state already projects the debt to be $1.4 billion over the next three years, he said.

“Efforts need to be focused on rebuilding our community businesses and encouraging new businesses in Maine. A robust business climate will aid greatly in mitigating the state’s debt, provide stability, safety and security for the state’s economy and families,” Vercelli said.

Online purchasing has “skyrocketed” this year, he said, but those goods need to be produced somewhere and Maine needs to encourage the businesses, especially the clean businesses, to locate in Maine.

“Also, supporting high-speed internet in Maine will increase the ability of Maine’s large and small businesses to be successful,” he said.

As for education, he said two school years already have been greatly affected.

“Students from kindergarten through college have lost much due to the impact on education,” Vercelli said. “Teachers, to their credit, are doing their best to continue to educate your students.”

The education system will benefit from a robust economy and funds would be available to enhance education by focusing on lessons learned from the present online education, he said.

“The cost for upgrades to brick-and-mortar buildings might be reduced by implementing smart online learning for specific grades and classes,” Vercelli said. “Unlike nearly total online learning, which took place in the spring of 2020, I propose working with the state and local educators to implement a phased remote learning approach to elevate Maine’s education system to the top 10 in the country.”

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