Democrat Betty Austin and Republican Jennifer Poirier are squaring off to compete for the District 107 seat in the Maine House of Representatives in the Nov. 3 election.

The district serves the towns of Skowhegan and part of Madison.

Incumbent Betty Austin, 73, a Democrat, said that her top priorities are to work on lowering homeowners’ taxes, to create better broadband and improve other infrastructure so that her constituents have better access to health care, education and good paying jobs.

“(I will) continue to push for bills that will do that in economical ways,” said Austin, who is a member of the Transportation Committee.

Austin said she was a sponsor of a bill last year that raised the homestead exemption for homeowners to $25,000 — an increase of $5,000.

Austin serves as a selectwoman for the town of Skowhegan and has experience working on the town budget committee and planning board.

As the state works to balance its upcoming budget, Austin said that in the midst of the pandemic, revenues can be increased by creating better broadband and encouraging more people to work, live and play here, and that expenses can by decreased by eliminating duplication and examining ways to combine services.

“I want to be a part of seeing our town and state be its best,” Austin said.

If elected, Austin hopes to continue working to lower homeowners’ taxes, improve infrastructure statewide and provide better access to health care and education.

“Our state will bound forward as we better these things,” Austin said.

Regarding the coronavirus pandemic, Austin points out that the state has one of the lowest rates of infection per capita and that the state CDC and Gov. Janet Mills have done a good job in a difficult situation.

Poirier, 46, a Republican, said that she is running to provide the district with “a representative who will listen to the people and vote on their behalf.”

“I have a long history of advocating for the needs and wants of my community,” Poirier said. “I am ready to take on the tough challenges that are facing our community and our state. I will give the voice back to the people.”

Poirier is serving her fourth three-year term on the School Administrative District 54’s board of directors, where she serves on the Finance Committee, Building Committee and is chairperson of the Support Services Committee.

Her top priorities, if elected, include reducing state spending, expanding trade and vocational education opportunities, supporting small businesses, and protecting vulnerable populations, including veterans, the elderly and the disabled.

“I will support policies that decrease unnecessary government spending and that increase efficiencies in necessary government agencies,” Poirier said. “Increasing taxes is not the answer, nor is expecting a government bailout. Deep cuts in spending are very necessary.”

Additionally, she said that she will support policies that will provide enhanced opportunities for students, which include bringing back to schools home economics classes and providing enhanced financial literacy training.

“Trade and vocational opportunities are a must,” she said. “We need to offer our learners opportunities to learn skills that will provide jobs and comfortable wages. It is the only way to ensure that future generations stay in Maine.”

Poirier recognizes that the pandemic has had negative impacts statewide and hopes to work to safely reopen the state and lessen restrictions.

“The impacts on businesses mean loss of revenues for communities. The mental (health) and health impacts are unmeasurable and can be seen across all age groups,” Poirier said.

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