AUGUSTA — Army veteran and volunteer James Orr and Augusta City Councilor and business owner Raegan LaRochelle seek to represent District 86 in the Maine House of Representatives.

They are vying to fill the seat vacated when former Rep. Justin Fecteau, R-Augusta, resigned July 4. The special election is the only House race this fall in Maine.

House District 86 includes most of the section of Augusta west of the Kennebec River.

Orr, 51, is running as a Republican. He volunteers as president of Veteran Mentors of Maine, and is married and has two school-aged children who are being home-schooled and two adult children.

Orr said he is running to serve the community and pledges to never be swayed or influenced by “outsiders that do not have the benefits of Augusta at heart.”

“My nearly 24 years in the United States Army gave me perspective on how fragile liberties and freedoms are,” Orr said. “While I was working to make places like Iraq a better place, it seemed like politicians back home were not working hard enough to improve our own communities. I am a proud member of the working class, and my single goal is to make the lives of the citizens of Augusta better.”


LaRochelle, 43, running as a Democrat, is an at-large city councilor serving her first term on the Augusta council. She is self-employed as an economic development consultant and owner of a property maintenance business. She has a longtime partner and two 13-year-old boys.

LaRochelle is on the Kennebec Valley YMCA board of directors and has served as a commissioner and chairperson of the Augusta Housing Authority. She said she is running because several people asked her to run and she feels she could do a good job and is “committed to making Augusta a better place to live.”

Raegan LaRochelle

“I have community knowledge and history, an understanding of municipal government, children who go to school here, businesses that I run and people who I employ here,” LaRochelle said. “I show my commitment to the community, whether it’s working on systemic issues or coaching youth. The bottom line is I’m all in for Augusta and always have been.”

One key issue on which they differ is the state’s requirement that health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19.

LaRochelle said medical workers should have the highest level of protection for themselves and their patients, and an outbreak among staff members could shut down a critical care medical facility.

She said the mandate, which she supports, is not a political issue. It is a public health crisis that requires “having the highest possible level of protection so we can move into the new normal.”


Orr said while he supports the decisions of the vast majority of health care workers to get vaccinated before the state made it mandatory and he praised them for caring for so many people on the front lines, he does not believe the government should be able to force someone to undergo a medical procedure without their consent.

He said health care workers are the most trained and proficient at using personal protective equipment, and he trusts them to make the decision on vaccination for themselves. Thus, he does not support the mandate.

LaRochelle said she sees an economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, adding the most significant issues facing the state include: A lack of workers for businesses, substance use disorder affecting a generation of people and their families, protection of the environment, adequate mental health resources, providing top-quality educations, improving child protection services and protecting senior citizens.

She said economic recovery and the lack of workers are related and, to address those issues, she would advocate for safe and affordable child care to provide better options for parents who work or want to work.

She said Gov. Janet Mills’ initiatives to help Mainers with substance use disorder have been a strong start, and Maine needs to continue developing in-state options for harm reduction and treatment, noting the Augusta City Council has a goal to make the community “recovery ready,” so when people are ready to get help for substance use disorder, there are resources to help them be successful.

LaRochelle said mental health issues have been exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic and county jails are becoming quasi-mental health facilities, indicating more attention need be paid to the issue. She said it is the state’s responsibility to provide compassionate intervention for those who need it.


Orr said the most significant issues facing the state include: A lack of skilled labor, the rising cost of basic necessities, such as food and fuel, and an alarming number of nursing home closures.

James Orr

He said state legislators need to do everything they can to promote the trades in schools, and vocational education needs to be expanded at high schools to help address the labor shortage.

He said there should be no further debate on increasing the gas tax or home heating fuel because people do not need more taxes on basic goods. He also supports more food products being produced locally and said the state should not overregulate small family farms.

Orr also said he would support legislation to streamline nursing home regulations and avoid unnecessary red tape because decades of layered regulation have made running a nursing home in Maine nearly impossible. He said the state also needs better opportunities for health care workers.

Both candidates said the state must do more for people with substance use disorder.

Orr said he would like to see election reform in Maine, including a requirement that voters have identification to vote. He said the state should issue identification cards to all residents.


Orr said he is not a “typical politician.”

“I cannot be bought or influenced by anyone outside of my district,” he said. “I will serve tirelessly for my constituents, and what I say is what they will get.”

LaRochelle said if elected to the state Legislature, she would fulfill her term on the City Augusta Council, which is up next year because she would like to see her efforts as a councilor put into motion.

“I’m committed to making Augusta a better place to live,” LaRochelle said. “This is my home. I grew up in Augusta’s west side and moved back after graduate school. I see community members who I grew up with daily. As state representative, I will feel the same sense of responsibility for and commitment to them as I feel as a councilor.”

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