On the Ballot: House District 66, Jessica Fay vs. Gregory Foster

House District 66 — Incumbent Jessica Fay (D) against Gregory Foster (R). D66 towns within the BN coverage area include: Casco (part) and Raymond (part).

Jessica Fay

Name: Jessica Fay

Age: 50

Party: Democrat

Family: Married

Education: B.A. Simmons College

Occupation: Florist, business owner

Organizations: Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Raymond Age-Friendly Community, Legislative Bi-Partisan Caucus on Aging, Be The Influence (RSU #14), Raymond Village Library, volunteer and former trustee

Honors: Emerging Leaders Program — State Legislative Leaders Foundation, SLRCC Woman in Business Leadership Award 2017

Website: Facebook – State Representative Jessica Fay (@Fay4ME)

Q.1 — What qualities would you bring to the position? Over the last two years serving as the representative of Casco, Poland and Raymond, I have been committed to working across the aisle to solve issues facing our community. This requires good listening skills, patience, understanding, and, of course, hard work. These are similar qualities that are required to run a successful local floral business, as I have done for the last 18 years.

In both my business and my role as state representative, I have focused on quality and customer service. A florist needs to be able to ask good questions and come up with creative answers, to understand a client’s needs and deliver, so does a representative. I will continue to work in a collaborative way on behalf of constituents.

Q.2 — How do you plan to contact/keep constituents up to date on issues? I will continue to hold regular office hours in Casco, Poland and Raymond, send out informational press releases, editorials, mail, e-mail and social media, as well as continue to attend local events and meetings. Being available and accessible and respectful has been a priority of mine.

Q.3 — How can the state strengthen education? Having stable leadership and consistent policy at the top of the Department of Education will allow local districts to plan for the future. The legislature can continue to work toward the 55% education funding goal and better support teachers and students in the classroom. Maine can continue current public/private partnerships that include communication between the university, community college and technical training organizations and business to educate Maine’s workforce not only for jobs available now, but for the jobs of the future.

Q.4 — What can be done to increase economic development at the state and local level? A statewide economic development plan that analyzes Maine’s strengths and weaknesses and gives some comprehensive ideas for how we can reach our goals would be a great start. Maine does not have such a plan currently. Additionally, investing in Broadband infrastructure and workforce training will allow new business and individual workers to move to the state and guarantee that the workers, who are needed will be available.

Q.5 — There is increasing concern regarding access to healthcare. What is your concern, and what can be done at the state level? There are two healthcare access concerns, one is geographic and one is financial.

As small rural hospitals find it more and more difficult to make ends meet, communities can lose access to important medical treatment locally, causing residents to seek care far away from home. This can place a burden on transportation and time. By increasing high speed Internet access for telemedicine, we can alleviate some access issues. Additionally, the state can better reimburse rural hospitals for the treatment they provide. When people receive costly emergency room care and don’t have a way to pay, privately insured patients bear those costs.

Lack of ability to pay can also be a barrier to accessing healthcare. For older people with lower incomes, we can fully fund the state’s Drugs for the Elderly program. Additionally, access to preventative care is proven to reduce health care costs in the long run.

Q.6 — What is your position on Question 1 regarding the use of tax dollars to provide home care for seniors and the disabled? Question 1 is the beginning of an important conversation, long overdue, about how we will help older people age in place. Unfortunately, because of the language in the referendum and concerns over the funding mechanism, I can’t support it. The legislature will be able to begin to address the issue in the next session. There are some programs already in existence through the federal government that Maine might look to as a model or take better advantage of.

Q.7 — What is your position on Medicaid expansion? I voted to fund the administrative costs of MaineCare expansion, which was passed overwhelmingly by the voters in 2017. Providing access to healthcare for people caught in between subsidized insurance and those who can afford private insurance will help lower the costs for everyone in the long run. We will need to address ongoing funding through the budget process, though currently there is enough revenue to cover the initial cost.

Q.8 — What do you feel are the three main issues facing Maine today and what are your ideas/plans to address these issues if elected? The issues Maine faces are interrelated and complex. When we look at each in isolation, we might miss unintended consequences. The issues that I will continue to work on if re-elected are protecting our natural resources, growing our economy and supporting older adults as we age.

Our economy and our environment are linked. One of Maine’s greatest assets is our quality of place. Our brand is clean water and air and we can leverage that to attract new workers. Those new workers will help us diversify and build our economy. There is great innovation happening in the forest products industry, in technology and in the way we work, including the increasing number of people who work from home. Our Broadband infrastructure is almost last in the country, and improving access to high speed Internet by creating Internet utilities can provide more choice and competition, resulting in better service at lower cost.

  • Improve business climate by creating municipal and regional broadband utilities to upgrade infrastructure.

Our environment and addressing climate change and planning for its impact and costs is a priority. The cost of not upgrading infrastructure to withstand increased extreme weather events could be loss of property and life. Because Maine’s environment and economy are intertwined, if we don’t protect our natural resources the cost to our economy could be huge. Encouraging renewable energy and upgrading our infrastructure will be important to Maine’s future.

  • Better funding for local infrastructure (wastewater, culverts, non-point source pollution mitigation).
  • Improve low-income access to weatherization and renewable energy like solar to decrease dependence on fossil fuel.
  • Improving how people age in Maine will benefit all of us. This issue will require us to address some of the other urgent challenges we face: infrastructure, healthcare, workforce and property taxes. Looking at these issues through the lens of how they impact older people ultimately will benefit the entire state.
  • Return more money back to municipalities resulting in lower property taxes.
  • Encourage private sector employment of older people to help mitigate workforce shortage.
  • Access to preventative healthcare and homecare and services by taking advantage of existing federal programs.

The ability of the next legislature and the new governor to work together will directly impact the quality of the work that is accomplished. A return to respect for dissenting opinion and a willingness to collaborate to move any issue to resolution will be essential to finding solutions. I will continue to be committed to civility and coalition building so that we can more effectively address Maine’s challenges

Q.9 — With the number of deaths caused by drug overdoses continuing to rise in Maine, what do you feel can be done to address the opioid crisis? We can look to what has been successful in other states. Both New Hampshire and Vermont have successful programs that employ the hub and spoke model and leverage federal funds to help save lives. Evidence has shown that when people get appropriate treatment and have proper social support, they can have successful recovery.

Q.10 — Complete the following, “The reasons I am the best candidate for the job is…” being a part of our local community through business and volunteer work has given me perspective on what’s important to people in the district. As a floral business owner in Raymond for almost 20 years, I have played a role in the special events in the lives of so many people in the area and learned what the impact of policy decisions we make at the state level has on real people.

It has been a privilege serving the people of Raymond, Poland and Casco as your state representative. In my first term, I was able to work across the aisle to pass legislation with bipartisan support. I held office hours, attended public meetings, and am available to constituents. When making decisions on specific bills I listened to public testimony, read policy analysis, and checked in with stakeholders to better understand how they might be affected. I will continue this work in the next legislature.

People who live in our district have very diverse views and opinions and can be very divided. By working to understand these views, by listening respectfully when someone takes the time to contact me, I am better able to understand those issues. I have learned a great deal from each person who shared their story with me and I carry those stories with me when I make decisions.

If re-elected, I plan on continuing to work on the issues that impact all of us. I am working on bills to assist older people, to protect our environment, and improve quality of life. The ideas for these bills come directly from people who live in the Lake Region. I will continue to work hard on behalf of the people here in Raymond, Poland and Casco, I would be honored to have your vote.

Gregory Foster

Challenger: Gregory Foster

Name: Gregory Foster

Age: 62

Party: Republican

Family: Divorced, single, a 25-year-old daughter enrolled in medical school in Maine

Education: Bachelor of Science Degree in Forest Management

Occupation: Self-employed consulting forester

Organizations: Current Raymond Planning Board member 13 years; past Raymond Comprehensive Plan Committee member; past Raymond Ordinance Implementation Committee member; past Raymond Conservation Commission member; until this year, a Raymond Ballot Clerk; Immediate past Maine Association of Consulting Foresters chairman; member of the Society of American Forester, past executive board member; member Maine Forest Products Council, past board of directors member; member Maine Woodland Owners; member Maine Tree Farm committee, Tree Farm Inspector, past Tree Farm newsletter editor.

Q.1 — What qualities would you bring to the position? After graduating from the University of Maine School of Forestry in 1979, I became employed by the State of Maine for six years as a State Forester serving as a Forest Technician, a Service Forester and Utilization Forester. These experiences gave me an education of the functioning of our government, particularly when I spent 18 months at the Bureau of Public Lands and learned my way, quite well, around the departments in Augusta. Over the years, I have been involved with many political issues affecting the forest community, including Tree Growth Tax Law, Shoreland Zoning and numerous laws affecting my profession. I have testified to various legislative committees on these matters and been involved with new laws and amending exiting laws.  My experience with town affairs also enhances my qualities.

Q.2 — How do you plan to contact/keep constituents up to date on issues? Electronic communications sent directly to constituents certainly work very well. I will be available by phone, and other texting type of methods. My current representative has made herself available for pre-planned times in each of the towns I would represent. I would continue doing that.

Q.3 — How can the state strengthen education? I am a proponent of charter schools, and also of a voucher system, where a parent can have the ability to send their child to the school of their choice. I believe in the free enterprise system, and that if schools compete for the same students it will lower the cost and increase the quality of education.

Q.4 — What can be done to increase economic development at the state and local levels? I think we need to reduce the burdens imposed by government, both in terms of tax reduction and lowering costly regulations often imposed on business. At one time and possibly still, it cost forest industries in Maine 25% more to operate than in other states. Hence, part of the reason we have lost some of our mills.

Q.5 —  There is increasing concern regarding access to healthcare. What is your concern, and what can be done at the state level?  I believe higher wages are central to improving people’s ability to afford healthcare. Maine remains third from the bottom in average wages. I believe we need to reduce the cost of government.

Q.6 — What is your position on Question 1 regarding the use of tax dollars to provide home care for seniors and the disabled? If passed, this tax increase will probably make Maine the highest taxed state in the nation. It is a terribly constructed law, probably unconstitutional, with no oversight from the legislature. The bill is over 30 pages and everybody should read it and understand what it will do to them.

Q.7 — What is your position on Medicaid expansion? I am opposed to expansion until it is legitimately funded, it does not raise taxes, and it does not limit coverage to the most needy. I did not vote in favor of this referendum.

Q.8 — What do you feel are the three main issues facing Maine today and what are your ideas/plans to address these issues if elected? Low income levels need to be raised, especially in rural areas. There is too much government intervention in business. Our government costs too much. Under Republican leadership, the state has seen more fiscal responsibility. All economic performance measures show great improvements over the last eight years. My desire is to keep Maine on the same path to make these economic measures improve.

Q.9 — With the number of deaths caused by drug overdoses continuing to rise in Maine, what do you feel can be done to address the opioid crisis? We, as a state, need to advocate for a more secure border where most of the illegal drugs are coming from. Drug peddlers need to be prosecuted, and we need to continue rehabilitation centers for addicts, especially those who became addicted because of the initial legitimate need for prescription drugs. We need policies that reward and enhance the ability of parents to stay together and make their priority commitment raising their children. Children raised in this environment are less likely to abuse drugs and other things.

Q.10 — Complete the following, “The reasons I am the best candidate for the job is…” because I believe in the free enterprise capitalist system, where people and businesses compete for the client, product or service.  Competition and the rewards of it brings out the best in everybody.

 

 

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