Present employment: Author, Realtor, legislator
Highest level of education completed: B.A., comparative literature, Hamilton College
Previous elected public office(s) held: State Representative, two terms
Statement: Serving in the Legislature is my way of using my communication skills and life experience to give back to this community. It is a job that I take seriously, involving listening to my constituents; responding in a timely manner; problem solving; and bringing forward bill ideas that will improve lives. I do not have all the answers, but I know how to research an issue, contact community members with expertise, and find out who in state government can provide information.
I am proud of the many times I have helped Camden and Rockport residents connect to needed services, smooth a business snag, or get the recognition they deserve statewide. I am grateful for the many conversations I have had within our towns that have led to my submitting and championing legislation that makes Maine a better place to live and raise a family. Safer homes for children; cruelty-free cosmetics; fewer “forever” chemicals; and streamlined online notarization are just a few of your ideas that I drafted and worked with my colleagues to pass and are now chaptered law.
I am engaged in this engrossing work because I care about our communities and can make progress in Augusta. Serving as your voice is an honor, and I look forward to continuing as your representative.
What are your thoughts on proposals to do away with Maine’s income taxes?
Resources raised through taxes pay for things that benefit all of us, like roads, parks, schools, public safety and clean water, and approximately 41% of the state’s general fund is generated through income taxes. In my two terms, we have passed measures that erode the income tax, not by cutting tax rates for the wealthiest households and corporations, but by improving programs that reduce taxes for households and young people. Fairness is important, and we have made the code fairer with several policies: the expansion of the earned income tax credit, larger refundable property tax credits for homeowners and renters, and an increase in the Homestead Exemption. In addition, we have increased the amount of untaxed pension income, fully funded the state’s share of education costs, and raised revenue sharing for towns to help stabilize property taxes.
When it comes to the state budget, what do you see as top priorities for spending or cuts?
We need to continue to boost funding for behavioral health care services, as the issue of mental health (especially among children) and substance abuse has only worsened since the pandemic. Resources need to be devoted to solving our workforce availability and skills level crisis (more skilled trade and apprenticeship programs; more engagement of new Mainers, asylum seekers, and older Mainers in the workforce, for example) and we need to continue to address the cost of housing and the cost of energy. For cuts, we need to continue to look at the hundreds of millions of dollars we spend for jails and ask ourselves if some of that money couldn’t be better spent.
How can Maine best make health care affordable for its citizens?
Last session we made real progress on health care affordability for Mainers, increasing eligibility for children and pregnant women and expanding dental coverage. We made it cheaper and easier to get insurance on the individual market and improved prescription affordability. The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act contains several health provisions which will also result in savings for Mainers. It continues the expanded subsidies for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s individual market and makes health care more affordable for Medicare recipients. Lower prescription drug prices and limits on what pharmaceutical companies can charge for some medications (like insulin) will also be a big help. There is more to do but I am heartened.
What policy changes would you support to protect the environment and respond to climate change?
We need to protect species biodiversity, even here in Maine, as we are losing species to habitat loss and climate change. Plastics in our environment as well as forever chemicals such as PFAS are threats to our health, clean water and heritage industries. Thanks to the Maine Climate Council, we are on track to reduce our carbon emissions but obviously we cannot let up, and especially need to look at the transportation sector which is our biggest emitter.
Would you vote to support a woman’s right to obtain an abortion?
Yes. I have voted to keep abortion safe and legal in Maine in the past and will continue to do so.
What changes would you like to see in the way police do their jobs in Maine?
Our law enforcement officers are well-trained and do their jobs incredibly well, promoting public safety above all, so I do not see a need for changes. I know from conversations with my chief of police that increased behavioral health issues in the community are challenging for the department, and as stated earlier, this is an area we must devote resources to.