WINDHAM — In her first bid for Senate, Republican Karen Lockwood is looking to unseat District 26 incumbent Democrat Bill Diamond, who has served in both houses of the state Legislature for a combined nine terms.

District 26 includes Casco, Raymond, Standish, Windham, Baldwin and Frye Island.

Diamond

In what would be his 10th non-consecutive term in the state Legislature and seventh as senator, Diamond said his two main priorities will be balancing the budget and reforming child protective services.

“I’ve been working on this issue for several years, but now especially with COVID and the child welfare people not being able to get out and meet with the kids under state care as much as they could have or should have … we really need to tackle this issue and we need to do it right and in the next year or two,” he said.

Diamond said he is bracing for an even higher deficit than what is currently projected but is prepared to take on a difficult budget, especially with his prior experience as the Budget Committee chair.

“I think we’re really going to need to be careful in our reductions and spending. We can’t just rely on tax increases,” he said.

In terms of COVID-19, Diamond said that ever since the legislative session adjourned on March 17, he’s been working with individuals and businesses to get them the help they need.

“I’ve been working with people who are having such a difficult time getting their unemployment checks, which they duly deserve and have earned,” he said. “And that’s then because of the problems with the Department of Labor. That’s been an ongoing battle.”

He added that his largely rural district has been treated by the government as urban, since it is part of Cumberland County, but that he’s been working to get “word to the administration about some of the concerns about the unique needs” of residents.

Lockwood

Recently retired from a 40-year career at Bath Iron Works, Lockwood said one of her focuses will be on enhancing technical education and manufacturing jobs in Maine.

“It’s the backbone of a prosperous economy,” she said. “If we have a workforce trained and ready to go, it entices more (manufacturing companies) to come to Maine.”

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many businesses to shut down and Mainers to lose their jobs, Lockwood said, and training for young people and those who are reentering the workforce will be crucial to restarting the economy.

The state also needs to improve broadband access, which ranks among some of the lowest in the country, she said.

And as a graduate of SMCC in South Portland, Lockwood said, “more needs to be done to help our community colleges.”

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