AUGUSTA — The candidates for House District 58 are going head-to-head and door-to-door as incumbent Republican Karen Foster seeks to keep her seat and Democrat Lori Fowle seeks to occupy it.

District 58, which serves Vassalboro, Windsor and the northeast section of Augusta, has been Republican since 2005, the same year the makeup of the district changed with reapportionment.

Each woman has close ties to the community.

Foster is a retired florist who owned EF Flowers & Co. for 20 year. Her husband, Tom, has been president of the Windsor Fair Committee since 1992, and the family helps with that operation.

Fowle’s husband, Evert, was district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties for more than a decade prior to being appointed to the district court bench earlier this year. Fowle served nine years on the school board and has been on the budget committee for four years. She owned Prime Cut hair salon in the Waterville Concourse for 10 years before selling it in 1998 to stay home and raise three children.

Foster, 68, of Augusta, was elected to the seat in 2010, and had no challenger in the June primary. She had previously spent six years as an Augusta city councilor.

She said she wants to be re-elected to the House because there’s more work of the people’s work to be done.

“I think they want us to continue to streamline government and keep spending in control,” Foster said. “Being constitutionally bound to balance the budget really means you need to be responsible for state spending.”

She said 92 percent of the people who answered her recent survey of Republican and independent voters in the district favored welfare reform.

“Of course I need to continue that,” she said.

Foster said she can work across the aisle.

“I think I have been fairly moderate,” she said. “I have not always supported party line. It’s gratifying to me when we do.” As an example, she cited regulatory reforms which allow businesses to more easily navigate the permitting system.

Fowle, 50, of Vassalboro, said her campaigning has led to some heart-to-heart talks with people seeking changes in government.

“I live in a district that’s very rich in state workers, and some of those are fearful of what’s coming next,” she said. “One woman hasn’t had a raise in five years. They’re worried about what the state is going to do to union workers.”

Another concern among residents is potential MaineCare cuts that would remove young adults from coverage, including those with genetic and chronic medical conditions. “It’s heart-wrenching,” she said.

The district is near the capital and includes a number of active and retired state workers, and Foster said that once the budget was balanced in July, some surplus monies went toward cost of living increases for retired state workers receiving pensions.

Foster also prides herself on being present for practically every single vote. Her record stands at 98.6 percent.

“I feel real responsibility and accountability to people I serve,” Foster said. “I’ve enjoyed it. I really have, and some decisions are really very difficult. I weigh the pros and cons and do my homework and vote after I have anguished.”

Fowle rails against the tax shift from state to local funding, forcing increases in municipal taxes.

She described the situation in Vassalboro where the school budget remained the same, but town’s property tax rate increased to support it.

“Cuts have to be made, but you have to consider the effect on people in need,” she said. “Cutting Head Start means a mother has to stay home and not work.”

In May, the Legislature cut $2 million from its contribution to Head Start programs, which provide early education primarily to children from low income families.

Fowle said the Legislature needs more balance. “I’m not looking to be a rubber stamp for my party. I think both Democrats and Republicans have good ideas,” she said. “I hope to be able to go in there and work on getting some jobs here and the help middle class and help state workers.

Fowle said she would a be a “strong independent voice” and is “looking to bring some common sense.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]


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