WILTON — There’s a lot of interest in the Maine Senate seat held for years by Republican Tom Saviello, who is barred by term limits from running for re-election.

Jan Collins, of Wilton, a retired schoolteacher, is facing off against Gary McGrane, of Jay, a retired millworker and educator, for the Democratic nomination for the 17th District seat.

On the Republican side, Russell Black, who is unopposed in the primary, is eyeing the seat.

“I will be a passionate advocate for all the people of Franklin County,” Collins said in a prepared statement earlier this year. “I believe that everyone has value and that we are stronger as a community, state and nation when we honor the contribution of each person and when we support each other.”

“My legislative priorities will be improving health care access, increasing state funding for education, protection of the environment, property tax relief and criminal justice reform,” Collins said.

Collins retired after 25 years as a public school teacher in high school science and special education, where she served on curriculum committees and mentored student organizations.

She and her husband, Irving Faunce, have owned and operated the Wilton Blueberry Farm for 14 years.

A master Maine naturalist, a lifetime member of the Nature Conservatory and Maine Appalachian Trail Club, and a former board member of the Foothills Land Trust, Collins has been a vernal pool monitor for the Maine Audubon Society and a Bat ME volunteer.

She planned to visit every town in the district.

McGrane calls himself a longtime advocate for Franklin County and promised in a written statement that he will serve as an advocate because “the people of our district need a senator who will fight for them and represent them in Augusta.”

McGrane said, “For too long, lobbyists, special interests, and professional politicians have held sway in Augusta.”

McGrane served as a Franklin County commissioner for seven terms and said that just as he fought for people as a county commissioner, he will do the same for them in Augusta.

“Our people need a state senator who will watch the budget, work for better jobs and job training, and push for better access to broadband and health care,” McGrane said.

He is eager to provide the district with “first-class service and representation.”

McGrane and his wife, Debbie, have lived in Jay for 40 years, where he serves as a selectman.

The 17th District encompasses all of Franklin County and Belgrade, Fayette, Mount Vernon and Vienna in Kennebec County.

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