Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, October 11, 2018 and The Weekly Packet, October 11, 2018
Representatives Luchini, Malaby seek open senate seat for District 7
by Anne Berleant
Two current state representatives in their fourth and final terms, Louie Luchini (D-Ellsworth) and Richard Malaby (R-Hancock), seek the open senate seat for District 7, which includes Blue Hill, Brooklin, Deer Isle, Sedgwick, Stonington, Surry and 22 other towns in Hancock County.
Louie Luchini, Democrat
After eight years representing District 132 in the House, Louie Luchini hopes to bring his experience to the Senate.
“In my time in the legislature, I’ve shown I have a strong record working across the aisle to get things done,” he said.
One of his top issues is continuing to build a modern economy that attracts and keeps young Mainers, through a strong economy and job training. The “most significant” legislation he passed was a research and development commercialization bond for $50 million that targeted seven technology sectors. The bill, with bipartisan support, helped bring Jackson Lab to Ellsworth and fund the Maine Venture Fund, an investment firm that only invests in Maine companies.
Luchini also prioritizes health care. “One of the biggest things I’ve heard [from constituents] is health care: reduce costs and expand access,” he said, pointing to geography-based cost differences as one area to effect change.
Luchini would also like to see increased treatment and prevention for opiate addiction, which has “virtually impacted every family and neighborhood,” he said, and for Maine to join a current lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies for “pushing highly addictive drugs without proper disclosure.”
As House Chairman of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, Luchini said he works with both party members “to make the committee function well. It starts at a leadership level. It’s difficult because social media can be misleading or disingenuous [with] representations of your record.”
Luchini “absolutely” believes in compromise and has taken positions against the Democratic party “on a number of issues,” he said, citing his co-sponsor of the bill that reinstated the tip credit after minimum wage legislation erased it. “I talked to hundreds of workers, owners, who were potentially going to be devastated,” he said. “You represent your district and you put them first.”
In campaigning, Luchini said one of the first things people say to him is “they are tired of the toxic political environment and want people who won’t contribute to that. People don’t line up like politicians do. Mainers are independent and don’t want to see partisanship.”
A former Nike professional athlete, Luchini grew up in the district and graduated from Ellsworth High School and Stanford University. He lives in Ellsworth, and coaches the high school’s cross country team.
Richard Malaby, Republican
A four-term state representative for District 136, Richard Malaby seeks to continue in the legislature as a state senator.
“I am well-qualified, educated and experienced, and articulate in this field,” he said.
Malaby has taught graduate school, is in his 39th year as owner of the Crocker House Country Inn in Hancock, served on the school board for 16 years, and on the Maine Coast Memorial Hospital (now Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital) from 2000-2009.
Malaby cites the economy, especially Maine as a low wage, high cost state without a global economy, as a top issue, along with high energy costs and health care. He is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services.
Addressing electricity supply and cost is important because Maine is on the same power grid as Massachusetts, where older power plants are being decommissioned, Malaby said. At the same time, mills, universities, hospitals and the state have converted to natural gas. Therefore, if Maine allows renewable hydro-power from Canada to “go through” Maine to serve Massachusetts, “we should get something in return,” specifically access to a larger pipeline of natural gas into Maine, Malaby said.
In the legislature, Malaby said he tries to “rise above” partisan politics. The “winner takes all attitude,” where the majority party chairs all the committees, “hardens the other side. If there were more power sharing … [it would be] more collaborative.”
He added, “Do I sometimes offend and make mistakes? Sometimes. I’m human. But I’m instrumental in bridging that gap in some areas,” particularly in working to secure funding and services for mental health, the elderly and the disabled.
“My success is not contingent on my being a Republican but on communicating with both parties for the neediest among us,” he said. “I’ve been a staunch advocate for people who are the neediest.”
He continued, “Compromise is not a dirty word. It’s how we move the chain.”
In his district, Malaby said people are concerned about high property taxes and “the direction of the state,” while Republicans specifically “are focusing on continuing the fiscal responsibility that we’ve initiated over the last eight years.”
Malaby is married with three children and lives in Hancock.