BUXTON — In the race to represent Senate District 31, Democrat Donna Bailey, a veteran in Augusta, faces off against Republican Craig Pendleton, a new figure in the political arena.

The district represents part of Buxton, Hollis, Limington, Old Orchard Beach and Saco. The election is Nov. 3.

Both candidates are Maine Election Act financed.

Bailey, a lawyer, is the current state representative in House District 14. She stepped up to replace Sen. Justin Chenette, a Democrat who withdrew his nomination in August after serving eight years in the Legislature.

Pendleton, an experienced business advocate, is making his initial bid for elected office.

Bailey

Bailey said the top issues are economic recovery and lowering health care costs.

“Our economy is suffering from the economic downturn caused by the ongoing pandemic,” Bailey said. “We need to continue providing assistance to our local small businesses to support them through these tough times.”

She would push for rental assistance for small businesses.

“Although I applaud our state’s efforts to provide residential rental assistance, many of our small businesses lease their business location space or their equipment and need assistance to make those payments or face possible closure,” Bailey said.

She supports continuing current grant programs and “insure they are not unduly burdensome or complicated to apply for, while insuring the programs’ integrity.”

“I would also advocate for state programs that infuse money into the local economy, while at the same time helping our neighbors in need, similar to the Federal USDA Farmers to Family food box program I have been involved with,” Bailey said.

As for health care, she favors lowering costs and making insurance more affordable to increase coverage.

“Health care and health insurance are still too expensive for many and the number of Mainers uninsured is unacceptable,” she said. “At the same time, many Mainers, particularly in rural areas, can’t access the health care they need without having to travel too great a distance.”

She favors expanding health care services especially in rural areas.

“I will also continue to fight for and pass legislation to lower the costs of prescription medications, as I have done through my time in Augusta,” Bailey said. “I will continue to fight for lowering the cost of health insurance by giving Mainers the option to buy into the state’s health insurance plan based on their incomes, making health insurance affordable for more Mainers.”

She supports decisions about someone’s medical care being only made by them and their doctor and not dictated by a health insurance company. She wants medical decisions based on what is best for the patient not “the insurance company’s bottom line.”

Pendleton

Pendleton cites a need for new and creative plans to address the budget shortfalls due to COVID-19 and expansion of the state’s workforce as priority issues.

“We have lost businesses, seen a huge reduction in tourism dollars and the adaptive nature of working remotely will cause businesses to rethink the need for brick and mortar, therefore causing serious concerns around how we collect property taxes,” Pendleton said.

He will recommend a full budget review across the board to find savings first.

“Now is not the time to be raising taxes on people as so many are already struggling,” Pendleton said. “We can’t sit back and say ‘this is how it’s always been done’ anymore,” he said.

As one example, he said it might be time to shift vehicle excise taxes that go into the general fund to highways and bridges “to keep Maine companies working generating income tax from good paying jobs.”

Another issue Legislature must address, he said, is growing the state’s workforce.

“Being from Old Orchard Beach, we see the need for seasonal workers and the Biddeford-Saco region is growing with
new businesses that need hard-working Mainers,” Pendleton said.

“For too long we have talked about how we are the oldest, grayest, least diversified state. The negative impression of our state oozes across the nation.”

Pendleton suggests the Maine Department of Community and Economic Development partner with the Maine Department of Tourism, and all trade associations, along with local and state chambers to craft a new, positive message from the state of Maine.

“This message will include new regulations that make it easy to start and grow business in Maine and that sends a message to young people that yes, you can get a great job and yes, Maine is a great place to start a family and prosper. Yes, Maine is where you want to be,” he said.

Pendleton said it would be another small example of collaboration to find good solutions.

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