WATERVILLE — The two Democratic candidates seeking the Senate District 25 primary nomination are more alike than different in their desire to create jobs and help people who are struggling.

But the focus on how to do it for candidates Dana Bushee Hernandez and Colleen Madigan Lachowicz are different.

Hernandez, 37, of Waterville, says the key is investing in new technology and green energy jobs, helping to reduce energy costs and decreasing the cost of living.

“We need to find ways to be innovative while keeping Maine values and traditions,” Hernandez said.

Lachowicz, 48, also of Waterville, says she would help those who want to start small businesses, including those that would sell Maine products such as yarn and raw milk.

“I would support legislation that supports our local entrepreneurs — the people in Senate District 25 that want to start small businesses or branch out in their businesses,” Lachowicz said.

Whoever wins the nomination in the Tuesday, June 12, primary will face incumbent Sen. Thomas H. Martin, a Republican from Benton.

The communities in Senate District 25 are Albion, Benton, Clinton, Unity Township, Waterville and Winslow in Kennebec County as well as Detroit and Pittsfield in Somerset County.

Both Hernandez and Lachowicz are running publicly financed campaigns. Both tout their life, education and work experiences as reasons they are best qualified for the senate seat.

Hernandez says she understands the needs of both children and educators, having two children of her own and having taught in a high school for at-risk boys in Los Angeles. She said she has spoken to teachers all over the district who are worried about school funding and issues including class size.

“My definite passion is at-risk children,” she said. “I think we can’t forget about them. I think my work in the classroom definitely gives me experience. I understand what teachers are going through right now.”

Lachowicz says that in her 25 years as a social worker, she sees people struggling every day with health-related problems.

“I see people really hurting and struggling to pay for insurance, getting less out of it because they can’t afford the co-pay or deductibles,” Lachowicz said. “I think that’s one thing I can help with, is understanding how that affects real people, and bring those stories to Augusta.”

She said she sees many older people who have health problems but do not qualify for Medicare and cannot afford to pay for health insurance. They have to sacrifice in other ways to make up for it, she said.

Hernandez believes investing in education will ultimately help the economy and she will work on that issue if elected.

“I really believe we need to make children a line in our budget we can’t veto,” she said. “We can’t sacrifice our kids if we want to make the economy better.”

Lachowicz said that in her clinical work with teens, she sees that those who do not pursue education beyond high school often get left behind economically. The state needs to invest in job training for those youths in areas including sustainable forestry and agriculture, she said.

“I think it would be amazing if some of those young people who want to work outside start small businesses,” Lachowicz said.

One of Hernandez’s passions is ensuring products used by both children and adults are tested to make sure the chemicals they contain are safe. She traveled to Washington, D.C., recently and asked U.S. senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe to co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act, which would require companies to test their chemicals, she said.

Lachowicz says the state is not addressing the health care needs of people, and that is something she would work on. When she worked at a cancer center, she helped develop a book for a pharmaceutical assistance program where the bulk of patients were seniors who could not afford their medicine, she said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]


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