A Jay selectman faces off against a political newcomer in the race for an open seat representing Jay and parts of Androscoggin County in the Maine House.

Republican Keith Cornelio, of Jay, faces Democrat Christina Riley, also of Jay, in House District 74, which consists of Jay, Livermore Falls and part of Livermore.

Riley, 49, works as a homemaker but maintains her license as a master electrician. She previously co-owned an electrical contracting firm with her husband for eight years, which she closed to work for the Rumford Mill until 2013.

Cornelio refused to be interviewed by the Morning Sentinel after a request for his age, which he would not disclose. According to an April article in the Sun Journal newspaper, of Lewiston, he was 73 then.

Cornelio did not respond to follow-up emails or phone messages seeking comment.

According to the Sun Journal, Cornelio worked at the Androscoggin Mill for 44 years before retiring as power plant team leader in 2011. While at the mill, he also served as president of Local 247 of the International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers Union.

Previously, Cornelio said in a voicemail to the Morning Sentinel that he is running to represent his district in the House for the same reason he ran for a seat on the Select Board: to help control government spending, which he says is out of control.

Riley said she is running in part because the previous Democratic representative, Paul E. Gilbert, asked her to.

“I love my community and he knows it,” she said in an interview, referring to Gilbert. “I grew up in a small town, and the value of everyone working together to give back to the community to me is fundamental for us as Mainers.”

Cornelio was a member of the Select Board in Jay from 1982 to 1986, and again since 2016. He was also on the Planning Board in Jay from 2015 until 2016.

While Riley never before has sought an elective office, she did serve previously on the Budget Committee in Jay and the western Maine local workforce investment board.

Riley is running for a seat in the State House because she believes public service is important, she said. Riley described seeing people come out in “droves” in their communities to help one another in times of need, adding that “to be able to do that in a daily and meaningful way means a lot to me.”

For Riley, property taxes and the economy are some of the most pressing issues in her district. Last spring she sat in on meetings about the paper industry and the local mill to learn more about what can be done to support the industry.

“The forest products industry is very interrelated,” she said. “Some places need strategic support, and if we do that right, we stand a good chance of reversing that downward spiral.”

Riley also wants to put a hold on property and sales taxes, increase revenue sharing and ask the state to fund education fully at the promised 55 percent. She said she doesn’t like seeing elderly people in her district struggling because of property tax increases.

“Losing your home because you can’t pay your property tax is just wrong,” she said.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour


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