A Westbrook School Committee member and an aspiring politician are running for the Democratic nomination for an open seat in the Maine House of Representatives.

Sue Salisbury, 44, and Dillon Bates, 26, will compete in the June 10 primary for Westbrook’s District 35, a seat held by Democrat Ann Peoples, who cannot run again because of term limits.

Both candidates say education is a top priority.

“The schools in Westbrook have certainly seen better days,” said Bates, who has lived in the city just under two years.

Bates grew up in Winterport and comes from a family of teachers. He plans to work as an education technician next year for the Bonny Eagle school district, where he now coaches track and field.

Bates said he’d like to improve Maine’s schools by giving the state’s “best and brightest” students incentives to stay in the state and work in education.

Salisbury, who is in her second term on the Westbrook School Committee, wants to see more support from the state for unfunded mandates such as the laptop and English Language Learners programs.

“I don’t get the feeling that they realize the impact,” she said about the effect the programs have on district budgets.

Another priority for Salisbury is “getting people insured that haven’t had insurance.”

A fraud investigator for L.L. Bean, Salisbury said the state should be looking at what safeguards are in place to prevent abuse of Medicaid benefits, but also taking a wholesale look at the program.

“We need to focus on what these programs were designed to do and who they were designed to serve,” she said. “Let’s go back and re-evaluate the whole program.”

Health care is also important to Bates, who wants to see people stop relying on emergency care as a first option. “So many people in Westbrook are uninsured,” he said.

Another focus for Bates is on youth involvement in government and getting young people to vote. Bates, who was an intern for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and a member of the Maine Young Democrats, said he believes his experience in politics would make him the best representative of Westbrook.

“I think I’m the candidate with the energy and the experience and the knowledge of the system to really hit the ground running and make things happen in Westbrook,” he said.

Salisbury, who has lived in Westbrook for more than 20 years, believes her intimate knowledge of the city as a longtime resident involved in many aspects of the community puts her in a better position to help the district. “I have a vested interest in making sure it’s well-represented,” she said.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @lesliebridgers

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