FREEPORT — With the state House District 48 seat up for grabs this fall, Democrat Melanie Sachs and Republican Jay Finegan are running to represent Freeport and part of Pownal in Augusta.

The winner will replace Speaker Sara Gideon, who is prevented from running for re-election due to term limits and is running against Susan Collins for her U.S. Senate seat.

Sachs and Finegan spoke about Maine’s economy during the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic and another issue they’d prioritize if elected to the House on Nov. 3.

Jay Finegan

Hospitality and restaurants, being among the industries hardest hit by the economic crisis, will need additional help, Finegan said, noting that restoring Maine’s economy “will be the overriding priority for the next Legislature.”

“Whatever the state can do to bolster small companies” is critical, Finegan said. “It’s an extremely difficult problem; there’s no manual for how to handle this thing.”

Quality primary and secondary education is also important to the candidate, pointing to the importance of an “educated and engaged population that is ready to take a place in the workforce, with some creativity and ingenuity.”

Workforce development is also key, Finegan said. “I think it would be important to even place more emphasis on trade schools, trades … electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, mechanics. These are all really good solid jobs, (and) it doesn’t require a huge tuition to get educated in those fields.”

Those, along with truck drivers, “are homegrown jobs,” Finegan said. “They’re not going to be exported anywhere. … These are people who make the everyday economy run.”

Melanie Sachs

Sachs said she has been encouraged in how Gov. Janet Mills has used the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security), particularly for supporting child care, schools, businesses and education – “utilizing that money directly for the people of Maine, and I’d like to see that continue,” she said.

The candidate also appreciates the state’s focus on its 10-year strategic economic plan, a report on which is due to be finalized in December, she said.

“One of the pieces of the next legislature is to take those recommendations seriously, because it has been so collaborative across sectors and throughout the whole state, so I’m excited to work on that,” Sachs said.

COVID-19’s impact could resonate during the next few sessions, as lawmakers decide the “best and highest use of funding,” something Sachs was tasked with amid decreased revenues while she served on the Freeport Town Council, she said.

Access to affordable health care is “the No. 1 one issue that people are talking about,” Saches said, “whether it’s affording prescriptions, having care that’s not just catastrophic if you’re an employer trying to offer health care for your employees and finding a good plan.”

“It hits absolutely every aspect of people’s lives,” she said, noting the Maine Center for Economic Policy reports 1 in 3 Mainers are in debt involving medical expenses. In her 25 years in health care, Sachs said she has seen people forced to choose between medication and food.


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