For the first time since 2012, Maine House of Representatives District 81 will be represented by someone other than Craig Hickman.

Hickman, who is being term-limited out of office, will be replaced by either Democrat Tavis Rock Hasenfus or Republican Joseph Pietroski, both of Winthrop. The district is made up of Readfield, Winthrop and part of Monmouth.

Hasenfus, an attorney, said it was his first run for state elected office. He said he was running to build “a better community and a better Maine” for future generations and to “end the partisan bickering” at the State House.

“I have always cared deeply about this district and this state,” he said. “I know how great it is and I want to help make it even better.”

Pietroski, who is retired, ran as an independent for state Senate in 2016. He has also run for a Kennebec County Commissioner’s seat and serves on the Winthrop School Committee. He said he was running to increase state funding for local schools in hopes of reducing the burden on municipal taxes.

“While Maine voters have endorsed the state paying for at least 55% of local education, this has not occurred,” Pietroski said. “We need to have an advocate for state educational funding representing this district.”

When asked how he would handle the upcoming budget year, which will likely be tight due to the pandemic, Hasenfus said he would look to defer spending on capital expenditures and “any nonessential service.” He said he opposed any cuts to programs that support small businesses, adding that those programs support the middle class.

“We need to find ways to both increase revenue and cut spending,” Hasenfus said. “A recession is not the appropriate time to raise taxes, but neither is it the appropriate time to force layoffs across state agencies.”

Pietroski said the state should freeze expenses and look to broaden efficiencies to help reduce the budget strain in the coming year. He also advocated for starting a “steering committee” to work on cuts.

“The Winthrop School Committee established a Steering Committee made up of a cross section of our community to work on our response to the COVID pandemic,” Pietroski said. “As a School Committee member, I can tell you that we did not care what party you associated with, we cared about hearing from everyone. I do not see that willingness to involve everyone at the state level.”

Hasenfus said the most pressing matter for young Mainers is finding the proper education and job training. He also said young voters will be questioning if what politicians “have left them is the world they want to be inheriting.”

Pietroski also said that job opportunities would be important for young Mainers, but added that access to affordable health care was also an issue younger people have mentioned to him.

Hasenfus said he was the best person for the job because he is a great listener and “a man of integrity.”

“I have a vision for Maine’s future that looks to where we are going, not where we have been,” he said.My integrity means that I will not play dirty politics, sidestep the hard questions or retreat to a curtain of secrecy when the truth is difficult.”

Pietroski said he was the best person for the job because he is more experienced than Hasenfus and will listen to the priorities of his constituents.

“Most of my working life I have spent at the state Legislature, learning the system, successfully working with (Democrats), (Republicans), Independents and Greens,” he said. “My priorities are also influenced by being a parent, being a teacher, being a coach, being a manager of people, participating with people, being on the Winthrop School Committee, and having raised and supported a family of six with my wife to be informed and good citizens.”

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