A longtime town councilor and a social worker with a background in public policy are looking to fill a vacant seat representing Old Orchard Beach in the Legislature.

Town Councilor and retired firefighter Jay Kelley and Lori Gramlich, a social worker who previously served on the Portland School Committee, will square off in the Democratic primary to fill the House District 13 seat being vacated by six-term Rep. George Hogan. The winner of the June 12 primary will face Republican Sharri MacDonald, a former town councilor, in the November general election.

Kelley, 65, was first elected to the town council five years ago during a contentious recall election. He said he would not have run for a seat in the Legislature against Hogan because he “represented Old Orchard very well,” but felt with Hogan leaving politics there is an opportunity to serve his hometown in a different way. Kelley said his experience working with other councilors to lead the town following a period of upheaval will be valuable in Augusta and allows him to be a strong advocate for Old Orchard Beach.

“I would love to go up there (to Augusta) and work side by side with Republicans to get things done that need to be done. That’s my main goal,” he said. “It’s come to the time now where we need to work together. We can’t be partisan all the time.”

Gramlich, who moved to Old Orchard Beach six years ago and is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern Maine, has worked in public policy since the 1980s, including advocacy and lobbying work in Augusta.

“I’ve always been advocating for less fortunate populations and people who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice,” she said, adding that she wants to be a voice for her community on the state level.

Kelley and Gramlich each say they understand the unique needs of a town that relies heavily on the tourism economy and would look for ways to address concerns of residents, including education funding and taxes.

“Old Orchard Beach only gets 7 percent of school funding from the state, which is pretty darn low,” Gramlich said. “We need to look at the school funding formula to get a better share for our community.”

Kelley, meanwhile, said he would like to explore the idea of a local option tax, which is not currently allowed under state law.

“I would like very much to try again to get a local option tax to relieve the summer burden that comes on us every year,” he said, noting the additional police officers and lifeguards the town must hire each year to deal with the influx of tourists and summer residents. “We bring in a lot of sales tax and don’t get much back.”

Both Gramlich and Kelley believe more needs to be done to address the ongoing opioid epidemic, but differ on their approaches.

“The opioid crisis is out of control. We need to stop the influx of drugs into our state,” Kelley said. “We have to step up the enforcement part of things.”

Gramlich, however, said lawmakers need to look at solution-based results to address the state’s “significant problem” with opioid addiction.

“It’s not simply front-loading it with law enforcement,” she said.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 12 at Old Orchard Beach High School. Residents also will vote on a $14 million education budget.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @grahamgillian

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