HALLOWELL — Candidates for City Council, Legislature and Kennebec County positions got a chance to address city residents during a candidates forum on Tuesday night ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

Nine city and state government candidates sat in the front of the room, separated by position they were running for, while Kennebec County candidates sat among the crowd of about 30.

“We are going to be well-represented in Hallowell, no matter who is elected,” said Mayor Mark Walker, who moderated the forum.

Only one race for a City Council seat is contested — that between Ward 5 incumbent Lisa Harvey-McPherson, seeking her fifth term, and newcomer Patrick Wynne.

Wynne, a firefighter and paramedic for Augusta Fire and Rescue who moved to Hallowell four years ago, said he has seen the worst of Hallowell — through responding to drug overdoses in the city — and he looks forward working on issues in town.

“There’s still more than we need to take care, and I’m excited to do that,” Wynne said.

Harvey-McPherson said she hears from her constituents, particularly the younger ones, that they are worried about property taxes becoming unmanageable in the city.

“They’re very concerned that they won’t be able to live here,” she said. “I’m very committed to receiving the right balance of investing in the community and the burden that property taxes have on the community.”

Incumbent Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, said one of her favorite parts of serving in the Legislature is helping her constituents who have problems with arms of the government. Warren, an educator and a social worker, got her start on the Hallowell Planning Board, then moved to the City Council

“I believe we can make a difference when we’ve involved,” she said. “In my blood is helping folks and educating people.”

Her opponent, Earle McCormick, a Republican from West Gardiner, who has served in both the Maine House and Senate, focused on his leadership and drive to build a bipartisan reputation. He said he plans to gather groups of Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature to sit down with the new government to set bi-partisan priorities ahead of the legislative session.

“Just watching the way things are going on at the national and state levels, issues that affect most Mainers are not being … fixed,” he said. “I really think there are people on both sides of the aisle that really want to get things done.”

When an audience member asked them their position on health care, Warren said she supported universal health care and McCormick said an expansion of Medicaid sounds good in theory, but cutting from other programs to fund it would be problematic.

Warren and McCormick are running for the House seat in District 84 — representing Hallowell, Manchester and West Gardiner.

Incumbent Sen. Shenna Bellows also highlighted her bipartisan leadership, citing a some of bipartisan legislation that she sponsored. She said that while going door-to-door visiting constituents, she visits with Republicans to introduce herself.

“I think it’s extraordinarily important,” she said. “Even if you never vote for me, call me. I promise I’ll listen, I promise I’ll call you back. ”

Her opponent Matt Stone, a Republican from West Gardiner, has worked in politics before, but he said his formative experience was his work as a credit union executive. He said he saw a number of people, including those on fixed incomes, who battled with financial struggles.

“I saw a lot of elder poverty (and) young people with student debt,” he said. “I’m deeply sympathetic and I will always be thinking about how I can serve (people facing financial hardship.)”

Incumbent District Attorney Maeghan Maloney was the first speak. In her re-election bid, she is challenged by Gardiner attorney Kevin Sullivan for the Kennebec and Somerset counties position.

Bellows and Stone hope to represent Senate District 14 — representing Chelsea, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hallowell, Manchester, Monmouth, Pittston, Randolph, Readfield, West Gardiner and Winthrop.

Incumbent Kennebec County Registrar of Deeds Beverly Bustin-Hatheway said one of her successes working in the registry was digitizing records.

“The administration wanted us to drag our heels on that,” she said. “I said “uh, uh, uh, it’s digital time.'”

Her opponent, Kristin Clark, was not at the forum.

Longtime incumbent District 2 Kennebec County Commissioner Nancy Rines and her opponent, former president of the Maine Bankers Association Joe Pietroski, also appeared at the event.

Pietroski’s address focused largely on the dilemma caused by the digitization of records and how it affects revenue at the Registry of Deeds.

“The incumbent legislators up here … voted on a piece of legislation that essentially gave (people) free copies,” he said. “You can download what you want… (and) you don’t have to pay for it.

He said that revenue was down over the past two years at the registry, which Bustin-Hatheway denied, saying that revenue was down last year, but up this year.

Kate Dufour, who is running a write-in campaign for Hallowell Ward 1 Councilor, Maureen Aucoin, who is running unopposed for councilor-at-large, and Kara Walker, who is running unopposed for her incumbent Ward 3 Councilor seat, also spoke at the forum.

Resident Mario Moretto asked what the council candidates would do to combat climate change, saying that no municipality is too small to make some effort, especially considering Hallowell’s populated flood zone on Front Street.

Dufour said it was difficult for municipalities to make efforts toward combating climate change.

Wynne said offering more public transportation, like the Kennebec Explorer bus service, and promoting the use of the Kennebec River Rail Trail would help toward addressing climate change.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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