FARMINGTON — A former state representative and a local businessman are vying for the House District 113 seat, which represents the towns of Farmington and New Sharon.

Republican Lance Harvell, of Farmington, was a three-term representative for the district when it was known as District 89. After deciding not to run for re-election in 2014 in order to spend more time with his family, Harvell is putting his hat back in the race this year.

Opposing Harvell is Democrat Scott Landry, of Farmington, who is the former owner of the Shiretown Insurance agency, located in downtown Farmington.

For both candidates, the lack of jobs and property taxes facing district residents are a top concern.

Harvell, who was a longtime employee of Verso’s Androscoggin Mill in Jay before being laid off last year, says that re-establishing good-paying jobs in the region is a priority of his.

“I have lived in this area my whole life. I have seen every job that has allowed my family to have good-paying jobs leave,” Harvell said. “I want to see what I can do to get employment back.”

An avid sportsman, Harvell said with traditional mill jobs leaving, the area could benefit by looking to its natural surroundings as a source for attracting new industries to the area. Given the outdoor recreation that western Maine boasts, Harvell said a sporting goods industry is a new industry that could prosper in the area.

“I think there is a real chance for using the tourism,” Harvell said.

Landry, who says he has provided hundreds of jobs over his career in the insurance industry, said using the area’s natural resources as inspiration will be key in job creation and retention going forward.

“It’s such a great place to live. We want to keep (people) here,” Landry said. “We’ve got to get people here who appreciate the quality of life we have here.”

While he has no political experience, Landry has been president of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including the High Peaks Alliance, which is a group focusing on conserving land for public use in the mountainous areas of Franklin County.

As someone who is passionate about the environment, Landry said, he believes focusing on increasing local agriculture could be a boon for the district.

Property taxes becoming too expensive for homeowners to afford is another concern that both Harvell and Landry share.

“We have to lower tax rates,” Harvell said. “We have to have tax reform that recognizes 21st-century realities.”

While in the Legislature, Harvell worked with the “Gang of 11” to sponsor a bipartisan plan to overhaul the state’s income and sales tax structure. However, the bill was unsuccessful.

With the state having a large revenue reliance on property taxes, Harvell said the current system isn’t acknowledging that a large and growing percentage of Maine’s property owners are elderly people on fixed incomes.

Energy costs are another homeowner expense concern for Harvell, who said he supports residential-scale solar power and heat pumps to supplement energy costs. To bring large-scale energy costs down, Harvell said he supports natural gas opportunities and finding an agreement with Hydro-Quebec.

Landry said in the last two months, as he has been going door to door, he’s heard only one person cite the income tax as a concern, while the overwhelming majority say they are struggling with affording their property taxes.

“People are getting taxed out of their homes,” Landry said.

To blunt the property tax burden, Landry said, the state could take advantage of the influx of tourists the region receives, focusing on sales and lodging taxes.

Landry also touts having been involved in business rather than politics, saying he’d listen to what the constituents are telling him and vote in their favor.

“I’m an independent, basically, running as a Democrat,” Landry said. “In the insurance business you find out what people want before what they need to help craft solutions to their problems, rather than going in with an agenda.”

While Harvell has been out of the Legislature for a term, he said his knowledge and experience from his three previous terms is still fresh.

“I know the process. I have relationships,” Harvell said. “I did the groundwork and I established the relationships necessary to move pretty difficult legislation.”

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate

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