All the candidates for Sanford’s three state legislative districts appeared at Candidates Night on October 12, 2022, and answered questions from moderators Shawn Sullivan and Tammy Wells.
The candidates for District 142, which represents the downtown area, most of the East Side and part of Springvale (see map below), are Republican Pamela Buck and Democrat Anne-Marie Mastraccio. Each candidate began with an opening statement.
Ms. Buck said she is concerned about our state economy and the future of our residents, workers, business owners and their families. She said the higher cost of living and shortage of workforce housing and safe housing for elders are issues that need to be resolved. She said she would like to retire in Maine but “can’t see this happening with our current leadership.”
Ms. Mastraccio spoke of her previous experience representing Sanford in the state legislature, as well as her service to the City as Mayor, Town Councilor and School Committee member. “I continue to work hard on your behalf,” she said.
Question 1: What is your personal stance on abortion? What would be your guiding principles if called upon to vote on a bill seeking to further restrict access to abortions?
Ms. Buck said “the rights of mothers and the unborn child” need to be protected, and that Maine’s current laws are more balanced than other states and more forward thinking. She added that she will “always stand behind science” but doesn’t believe abortion should be used for birth control.
Ms. Mastraccio said she supports a woman’s right to choose her own reproductive care, and “would absolutely not vote to restrict care in the future should a bill come forward.”
Question 2: If the need for budget cuts arises this winter, what would you cut and why?
Neither candidate gave any examples of expenditures they would cut if times got tough. Ms. Buck said with the cost of living skyrocketing, she would not cut assistance for seniors or people on fixed incomes. She would also not cut substance abuse treatment or economic development. Ms. Mastraccio said this year there would be a state surplus, and it should be used to mitigate the effects of inflation, including putting more in the rainy day fund to get the state through difficult times. She added that her priorities are things that make peoples’ lives easier.
Question 3: What in Maine needs to change, and how would you work to change it as a legislator?
Ms. Buck singled out affordable housing as the area that most needs addressing. “Seniors are being priced out of living here,” she said, and more affordable workforce housing is also needed. She added that more training is also needed to match workers with existing jobs and the careers of the future.
Ms. Mastraccio said Mainers should embrace the fact that the state is changing, welcoming newer residents and asylum seekers rather than resenting them. “We need all of us working together to make this the place it can be,” she concluded.
Question 4: Lobstermen have had a challenging year with the federal government’s attempts to further regulate them, and with a group out west calling for people to boycott buying and eating lobster. Should the legislature be involved in these matters, if so, how? If not, why not?
Both candidates agreed the legislature should get involved to support the lobstering industry.
Question 5: In your opinion, should electric utilities be privately or publicly owned in Maine?
Ms. Mastraccio said Central Maine Power has not solved its problems and she would probably support a public takeover, even though she is “not sure government is the best place to run things.” She is concerned what that would cost the state and how a referendum question should be worded to avoid unintended consequences.
Ms. Buck said she hasn’t seen proof that government can handle other businesses well and believes it should remain in private hands, but said she would “go with the vote of the people.”
Question 6: If elected, you will take office during the winter. What do you see as your responsibility as legislator to those living in tents this winter in cities and towns across the state, and not just the big towns? What can be done short term?
Ms. Buck said in her work at York County Shelter Programs, she has seen that homelessness, drug addiction, mental health and the cost of living are all connected. She said three things that are needed are accessibility to meaningful mental health services, affordable housing and a detox center. She said Sanford has “connected the dots” with other agencies and proved that homelessness is an issue that can be addressed.
Ms. Mastraccio agreed that Sanford is doing a good job at addressing the issues that lead to homelessness, but the issue is what to do with people who will not go to a shelter. She said warming centers and resource centers for these individuals could help get them to a point where they agree to be housed. She would also try to find out what the barriers are to expanding the Alfred shelter, where there are not enough beds.
Question 7: As we all know, there was not a peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 Presidential election. Indeed, Maine was among other states that beefed up security around the Capitol in Augusta, in the days leading up to the Inauguration in January 2021. If elected, you will be in office during and after the 2024 Presidential election, so this question to us feels fair, relevant and necessary. Do you have any issues with the 2020 Presidential election, whether it’s the way in which it was conducted nationally or the results that were certified? How do you vow to carry yourself as a legislator during the upcoming Presidential campaign?
Ms. Buck called the 2020 election “scary and disrespectful” and said she respects everyone who is in office, from President to City Council. She said she supports the idea of Voter ID (which was not part of the question, but was raised by another candidate), but would want to make sure everyone can have an ID before going to “that extreme.”
Ms. Mastraccio said there was “no doubt in my mind that President Biden was elected by popular vote as well as electoral college vote,” and said as a legislator, she would never cast doubt on an election, no matter the results. “I trust the voters, and I trust the way we conduct our elections.”
Question 8: Please tell us about a substantial issue on which you strongly disagree with your political party.
Ms. Buck said she disagreed with those in her party who don’t believe in working together with Democrats. She also doesn’t agree with legislation being passed without funding attached, citing the Property Tax Stabilization Program for senior citizens as an example: “If we don’t have the funds to pay for it…I don’t think that’s correct.”
Ms. Mastraccio said after hearing from constituents that including tipped workers in the minimum wage bill was wrong, she cosponsored a bill with a Republican that would exempt them from it, despite pushback from her own party. “I get a big negative from the Democrats” on that, she said, but “I did the right thing for the constituents that I serve.”
Each candidate was given the opportunity to make a closing statement.
Ms. Buck thanked organizers for the opportunity to share her viewpoints. “I am running because I care and am concerned about our community and our state, Maine’s economy and the protection of our natural and human resources,” she said. She said priorities need to start at the state level, including the revamping of Maine’s tax structure to reduce the tax burdens of property owners and business owners. “The Homestead Exemption does not begin to reduce the cost of home ownership,” she said. State ownership of education and training programs to attract higher paying jobs with competitive benefits, the opioid crisis and economic development are other top priorities. She described her diverse work experience in human resources and community development with nonprofit organizations and municipal governments, and as a board member with the Sanford Housing Authority and Great Bay Services. “I promise to work and protect the rights of all residents,” she said, and concluded with a plea to vote on November 8th: “Your vote really counts.”
Ms. Mastraccio said in her over 30 years in public service, her guiding principle was to make life better for the people she served. “That is what I believe government can and should do,” she said, citing good schools, jobs that pay a living wage, safe affordable housing, quality childcare and access to healthcare. “These are crucial elements for a quality of life we all deserve.” She pledged to work collaboratively with local officials and legislative colleagues, and to be an effective advocate for legislation that improves everyday life in our community. She thanked voters for the trust they have placed in her over the years, and ended by saying, “Please vote, and encourage everyone you know to vote…our democracy depends on the participation of its citizens.”
Election Day is November 8. In-person absentee voting is going on now at City Hall. See this page for more information, or call the Clerk’s office at 207-324-9107.
The full Candidates Night video is available on YouTube here.