Democrat Wendy Ross, of Wiscasset, is challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Jeffery Hanley, of Pittson, for the House 87 seat representing Alna, Pittston, Randolph and Wiscasset.

“I have the background and skills needed to be an effective legislator,” said Ross, 76. “I will work hard to make Maine a state that draws businesses and young entrepreneurs to it; that provides its citizens quality, affordable education; that expands access to health care; that invests in the technologies of the future including wind and solar; that makes high speed Internet a priority and works to keep its environment clean and beautiful.”

Hanley, 65, wants to return for a second term.

“I want to keep improving everything that has to be dealt with: funding schools, taking care of the drug problem — which is immense — and welfare reform, which we started,” he said.

Two years ago Hanley defeated incumbent Rep. Tim Marks, a Pittston Democrat, for the post.

Ross moved to Maine after a career with the U.S. Information Agency in Washington, D.C.

She began as a reporter with the Voice of America during the Cold War, received a congressional fellowship in an American Political Science Association program and was a legislative aide for U.S. Sen. Hubert Humphrey and a press aide for U.S. Rep. Morris Udall.

After that, she covered Congress for many years for a newswire that went to embassies worldwide for distribution to the local press and government officials.

“I ended my career as the newswire’s White House correspondent,” Ross said. “I was a member of the White House press corps and worked in the White House press area. I covered the second term of President Clinton and the first term of President George Bush.”

Her ties to Wiscasset go back to her great-grandfather Alvin Foye Sortwell, who lived in Boston and bought a summer house in Wiscasset — his mother’s hometown.

“My husband and I now live in a historic house in Wiscasset that was part of my grandfather’s farm,” Ross said. “During my working career in Washington, D.C., I returned to Maine as often as possible, and I have lifelong friends in the region. My husband and I and our four sons, and two grandsons, all love Maine. My family is proud that I am running for the Legislature.”

Hanley is a retired welder and pipefitter, as well as a veteran, having served six years as a heavy equipment mechanic with Maine Army National Guard, 1969-75. He refers to himself as “a nuts and bolts guy, a blue-collar worker.” He’s lived in Maine all his life and raised four children here, and now those children are raising their children. He said he wants to make the state a good place for his grandchildren to live a “happy, healthy life.”

Hanley is involved in civic and religious organizations. He is a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, and the West Gardiner Rod and Gun Club, and volunteers at Chrysalis Place, the local food bank. He also volunteered for three years at the Maine State Prison in the Catholic studies program.

Hanley prefers fewer rules and regulations and minimal government.

“I’m a conservative man,” Hanley said. “I live conservative, and I vote conservative.”

He would like to see the income tax go away and replaced by the fair-tax concept, pointing to fairtax.org, an organization described on its website as “dedicated to replacing the current income tax code with a national retail-level consumption tax.”

“It might be a thing to at least look at,” Hanley said.

Hanley wants to control spending and taxes. “We didn’t hold spending as well as I was hoping,” Hanley said. “I’m a little unhappy about that, but we did hold the line on massive increases.”

Hanley pointed to the welfare reform accomplished last session and to the Legislature’s action reducing the state income tax to 7.15 percent from 7.95 percent and increasing the standard deduction to $11,600.

Ross responded via email to a series of questions, and Hanley answered questions Saturday by phone.

The candidates have similar approaches to solving the opioid crisis in Maine.

“I would focus on establishing more programs like the Lincoln County Recovery Collaborative that brings law enforcement, the medical community, and volunteers together to get help for the addict, instead of treating the addicted as criminals,” Ross said. “I would also vote for very tough laws for the persons bringing the narcotics into the state, and distributing them.”

Hanley, too, said he wants enforcement as well as laws that tell drug traffickers — particularly those selling heroin — “if you do it, you’re going away for a long time.” He wants treatment for those who are addicted, and if necessary using arrest to force them into treatment.

He also sees education as important.

“We need to drive into the heads of everyone in society: You have personal responsibility; nobody makes you take a pill, take a drink, put a needle in your arm,” he said. “You’ve got to stop making that decision. It has to be a societywide effort and a relentless drumbeat of education.”

Ross said residents aired concerns about the opioid crisis, the need for higher-paying jobs, medical care costs, property tax burden and problems balancing work and family obligations.

“I will work hard to work to get the state to pay its fair share of public education costs,” Ross said. “I will also advocate for the enactment of family-friendly policies and for more affordable, high-quality day care and early childhood education in the state.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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