Originally published in Castine Patriot, October 11, 2018
Local candidates share views at Blue Hill forum
From left, House 133 candidates Republican Nancy Colwell and Democrat Sarah Pebworth tackle issues at an October 9 forum in Blue Hill.
by Anne Berleant
A forum on October 9 showcased the similarities in issues and often stark differences in solutions between Republican and Democrat candidates in two races: House District 133 and Senate District 7.
House 133 candidates Nancy Colwell (R-Surry) and Sarah Pebworth (D-Blue Hill) and Senate 7 candidates Louie Luchini (D-Ellsworth) and Richard Malaby (R-Hancock) all named health care, the economy and the opiate crisis as top issues.
Democrat Pebworth advocates expanding Medicaid and “negotiating reasonable costs through a single-payer insurance system. … Maine can be a leader.” Luchini proposes a combination of public and private insurance, and expanding Medicaid, as approved in a referendum ballot in 2016: “We shouldn’t ignore the law that people passed.”
Republican Colwell calls for allowing individuals and small companies to form groups to get better insurance rates and to open an interstate market to purchase insurance. Malaby stands against expanding Medicaid until services for the mentally ill are fully funded, noting, “We promised to do that and have not.”
All four candidates hope for a stronger, year-round economy with well paying jobs that keep young Mainers here, noting the shortage of skilled workers, especially in the trades, as a real problem. Jobs training, incentives for businesses, education, promoting entrepreneurship were among the buzz phrases the candidates used.
“I’m fiscally conservative, socially libertarian and I would serve this district quite well,” Malaby said.
All four candidates expressed a willingness to work across the aisle.
“This is about making sure everyone in the district has a voice, not the party,” Colwell said.
The widest gulf between the candidates along party lines centered on energy, with Colwell and Malaby against funding renewable energy above traditional energy sources. Malaby also outlined solar and wind power’s service weaknesses. “Solar power has 14 percent capacity factor, wind [power] 30 percent. That’s not reliable for our grid.”
Luchini discussed the “enormous potential” of community solar farms and wind farms to create jobs and help reduce global warming. “Like any investment portfolio, [energy] should be diversified,” he said.
Audience questions included the issues of gun control, local authority over town waters for aquaculture farms, and the equal rights amendments, where candidate responses were not as divided along party lines.
“When you bring people together it makes a much greater whole.” Pebworth noted in her closing statements.
In his, Luchini said: “I love Maine, I love this community and have gotten good results working across the aisle.”
Co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, the forum was held at the Bagaduce Music Lending Library.