Incumbent state Rep. Donna Doore, left, and challenger William Clardy. Contributed photos

AUGUSTA — Democratic incumbent Rep. Donna Doore says her experience serving in the state Legislature as well as many years on the school board and city council in Augusta give her a good foundation to serve residents of the city.

Her opponent, Republican challenger William Clardy, says he’d be a legislator who wouldn’t just vote the party line and it is time to change.

“I am running for my last term in the House so I can continue to work on issues important to Mainers like good jobs with benefits, improved health care, and protecting our environment and quality of life,” said Doore, a retired state worker. “I believe my previous experience on the school board, city council and three terms in the Legislature has given me a good foundation to understand and serve the residents of Augusta.”

Clardy, a database developer, said Doore is a “very loyal Democrat” who may not see a need to change how she votes.

“We’re in an unprecedented time, and we need to pay attention to the fact we’re being shaken up and do what we need to do to change course,” Clardy said.

Clardy said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is the biggest issue facing both the state and the legislative district. He said the state needs to support businesses to help prevent them from closing down due to the pandemic and restrictions meant to prevent its spread. He said a first step to do that would be accurately assessing the damage done to the economy in Maine, which he said state government has not yet done. He said that information is crucial to determine how to help and look for ways to stimulate the economy and get people back to work.

Clardy thinks the state Legislature should have been called back into session during the pandemic, rather than Gov. Janet Mills issuing executive orders, to make changes needed to deal with the pandemic. Democrats did call for the Legislature return for a special session this past summer to take up hundreds of unfinished bills, but Republican leaders refused, saying they first wanted an agreement on the scope and length of a session.

Doore said Mills has already taken steps such as curtailing spending in both the state’s general fund and highway fund to cut costs in response to revenues plummeting due to the pandemic. She said the state should use first use federal pandemic relief funds and then look for more savings in the state budget. She said she would need more information before saying what services would need to be decreased to overcome the revenue shortfall.

Doore said the state did a great job saving lives and protecting Mainers by reopening slowly and following the guidance of the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

She said health care is the most pressing matter for the next generation of Mainers. Health insurance should be a right, not a privilege, Doore said, and if people have insurance they will use preventative medicine that would save the system money.

“Our next generation needs good jobs to sustain and raise a family in one of the best environments in our country,” Doore said. “We need to continue to provide a great education for our children, continue to work on environmentally safe ways to provide electricity and increase and create good paying jobs.”

Clardy said the incoming state Legislature will have to take a “zero-based” look at the budget and examine every expense and decide what to make the highest priority. He said the state may have to put off some spending, such as delaying maintenance on roads, until the budget recovers.

Clardy said the biggest challenge facing the next generation of Mainers will be dealing with all the mistakes previous generations have made before them. He said one thing they’ll have to overcome and change is the current political climate that favors soundbites and divisive tweets instead of thoughtful and respectful debate.

“If they want to have an effective government, they’re going to have to relearn how to have respectful disagreements,” Clardy said. “We have the tools, the way our government is structured, to work out compromises and figure out the most workable solutions, but it requires people to re-learn how to use those tools to do that.”

Doore also said debate needs to be more respectful and said the Legislature gets a lot more done when its members work together and expressed hope the most contentious debate will pass after the election and the Legislature will work together in 2021.

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