AUGUSTA — Voters in House District 83 will choose between an incumbent Republican who believes in smaller government and a Democratic newcomer who wants to get elected so she can advocate for the people.

Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade, faces Pamela Boivin, a Democrat from Manchester, in a key matchup in central Maine. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Keschl, 65, has served two years in the House, and was appointed to the Appropriations Committee. He’s a retired state worker who also was town manager in Belgrade for five years.

He said Republicans at the State House have started to reform the Department of Health and Human Services, have prioritized state spending and made changes to the pension system for state workers and retirees.

“Even though it impacted a lot of people, we had to do it,” he said. “We began to do some of the work we need to do and bring the size of state government back in line with our ability to afford it.”

Boivin, 44, is an attorney who is a legal specialist with the Family Violence Project and teaches college classes at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield and for the University of Maine System. She said training she received at Emerge Maine, which helps Democratic women learn how to run and serve in office, gave her the final push to enter the race.

“I’d really want to look at the family court system,” she said. “Is it working well for families? I really sincerely believe we are supposed to help the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Both candidates said they’ve heard from voters that the top concern this year should be jobs and the economy. Keschl thinks government needs to get out of the way of businesses so they can grow.

“The one thing people want us to work on is improving the jobs climate,” he said. “People need work.”

Boivin said many people are struggling with student loan debt, no health insurance and low wages.

“Everybody’s living month to month,” she said. “I feel like we’re all one crisis away from losing everything we worked for.”

Keschl’s background includes active duty in the Army from 1969 to 1973, where he served in West Germany in military intelligence. He was an aircraft maintenance officer and worked in anti-terrorism. A native of Pennsylvania, he’s lived in Maine since 1979. After completing his undergraduate work at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania, he got a master’s degree in environmental sciences from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Boivin was born in Massachusetts, and moved around a lot as a child. She moved to Maine 19 years ago and has lived in Manchester for eight years. She’s the single parent of an 18-year-old son.

Boivin is a 2002 graduate of the University of Maine and get her law degree from the University of Maine School of Law. She’s working on a Ph.D. from the Bangor Theological Seminary, where she’s studying criminal psychology and victimology.

She said she’s ready to serve in the Legislature at this point in her life.

“I think I’m a born advocate in general,” she said. “I look at this job as an advocate position.”

Keschl, who describes himself as a Jeffersonian Republican who believes in the smallest government possible, said he’d like to restore the public’s belief in effective government.

“I’ve noticed there was a real loss of trust by the people in the Legislature,” he said.

Susan Cover — 621-5643
[email protected]

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