State Rep. Shelley Rudnicki, R-Fairfield, is being challenged for her District 108 seat in the Maine House of Representatives by Democrat Nathaniel White.

District 108 consists of Fairfield, Mercer and Smithfield.

Rudnicki has held the position since November 2018 when she defeated Aaron Rowden, a Democrat from Fairfield, who also ran for the District 108 seat in 2016.

Rudnicki took over the position from Republican Rep. John Picchiotti, who served three terms from 2012 to 2018.

The biggest legislative priorities for Rudnicki are the budget crisis, economic recovery, student-focused school policies, protecting vulnerable populations and supporting law enforcement.

Rudnicki describes herself as a “lifelong Republican” and said that those values are what represents her approach to the people in her district and her legislative priorities.

“I believe in things like lower taxes and less government interference in our lives,” Rudnicki said in an email Sept. 21. “I believe that the people in my district should keep more of their hard-earned money in their own pockets instead of sending more of it to Augusta politicians to waste …

“These are just examples of the basic principles I believe in and that I campaigned on. These principles represent my approach to the job the people in Fairfield, Smithfield and Mercer elected me to do.” 

Over the course of her term, Rudnicki has served on the education and cultural affairs committees.

Rudnicki has also sponsored bills that aimed to establish a special education circuit breaker reimbursement program, make the state’s learning technology initiative more cost-effective and help small businesses by establishing an alternate minimum wage.

Other issues that Rudnicki is concerned about include state spending.

“We’re now seeing the downside of legislative Democrats’ rush to spend every nickel in the state’s coffers, including draining the state’s rainy day fund in record time,” Rudnicki said. “Now the rainy day has arrived and the answer is not to raise taxes and spend more money we don’t have. The answer is to drastically decrease state spending and get back to living within our means.”

Rudnicki told the Sun Journal that she’s dissatisfied with the state’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What was originally sold to us as ’15 days to flatten the curve’ suddenly turned into a massive and unprecedented invasion of our constitutional rights, which has forced many businesses to close,” Rudnicki said.

Rudnicki discussed this during a Facebook live stream on Sept. 4.

“They keep saying ‘outbreak, outbreak, outbreak,’ but an outbreak in Maine, it’s nothing,” Rudnicki said. “I want to remind people that we were just supposed to flatten the curve, we weren’t supposed to eradicate this disease.”

During a Sept. 28 live stream, Rudnicki discussed her approach to the pandemic.

“Why should we stop living our lives for a few people or the people that are too scared?” Rudnicki said. ” As many of you know, I’ve lived my life ever since this started, okay? I have been to rallies, I’ve been to I think it’s 24 states over the course of the summer … you need to live your life and we need to get these kids back to school full time.”

Rudnicki’s opponent, Nathaniel White, is running for the position because he enjoyed his previous experience on Waterville City Council and wants to rightfully serve the citizens of District 108.

“I want to represent the people in Maine House District 108 and look out for their best interests,” White said in an email Sept. 25. “I believe a lot of politicians these days have forgotten what political service is and who they as elected officials represent …”

White’s biggest priorities are ensuring adequate education and funding for public schools, access to healthcare and not raising taxes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are many families in Maine that are struggling because of COVID-19 and its effects, and raising taxes will only burden them more,” White said. “I am a strong supporter of educators; I want to ensure they have the funding and resources they need to get through the pandemic but also to help them deliver the best education possible to the students …

“I want to help more Mainers get more affordable healthcare, which includes affordable prescription drugs.”

White is also concerned with creating more job opportunities in the state and helping small businesses survive the pandemic.

“It saddens me to see so many small businesses suffering because of this pandemic,” White said. “I want to work with other lawmakers on ensuring that if this were to happen again, small businesses are protected.” 

White said if he’s elected, he will address the concerning “lack of civility” he sees in politics.

“The general lack of civility in politics these days concerns me, at all levels,” White said. “If elected, I pledge to listen thoughtfully, ask questions to increase my understanding, and most importantly treat those with different views with the respect they deserve.”  

White believes that Maine is “not out of the woods yet,” as far as the pandemic goes, and feels it’s necessary to continue addressing the impact the health crisis has had on the state’s economy.

However, White told the Sun Journal that he’s happy with the state’s approach to the pandemic.

“I am satisfied with the state’s response to COVID-19,” White said. “If you compare Maine to other states, you will see that our rate of infection is much lower.”

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