With state Rep. Chloe Maxmin running for the District 13 seat in the Maine Senate, her House District 88 seat is up for grabs.
Vying to take the mantle are Republican Michael Lemelin, who lost a race against Maxmin in 2018, and Democrat Christopher Hamilton.
District 88 includes Chelsea, Jefferson, part of Nobleboro and Whitefield.
Accessible jobs for Mainers is one of Hamilton’s main focuses. As a farmer, he said he understands the struggle of having a small business. Hamilton said small businesses are the “heart and soul” of the Maine economy.
Lemelin, also a small-business owner, said one reason he is running for the Maine House of Representatives is he wants small businesses to be able to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. His has been open, but his friends have had to close their businesses for the time being.
“I would change how the state is dealing with COVID, and although it’s serious, it’s being dealt with inappropriately,” Lemelin said. “I would open the Maine businesses and continue what’s working, and what’s working is that people aren’t going to school or work sick.”
When asked about students or workers who might have COVID-19 but are asymptomatic, Lemelin said there “are very few people that are asymptomatic,” and in past years, when there were 10,000 cases of the flu virus, “we didn’t panic then. Why are we panicking now?”
Hamilton, self-described as fiscally conservative, wants businesses to open, too, but safely with coronavirus precautions.
“I believe the pandemic is real and believe that people have to do social distancing in order to be careful,” he said.
When the coronavirus hit, Hamilton’s two adult children returned home to Maine. As his son sat upstairs doing his Detroit-based job from his childhood bedroom and his daughter attended her New Mexico graduate school from her old bedroom, Hamilton saw how important it was for Mainers to have high-speed internet and jobs during the “new normal.”
“My son moved home and his boss didn’t even know he wasn’t in Michigan. He could do it seamlessly,” he said. “My daughter set up her laptop and I was starting this campaign. Having broadband internet in Maine, we were able to work all around the country.”
Lemelin said if most people return to their workplaces or school, revenues within the state will increase. He also said Gov. Janet Mills must stop spending money on her “personal agenda” and “frivolous” items, and, instead, focus on the economy to get Maine businesses up and running.
Along with his focus on small businesses, Lemelin said he wants to work on implementing the trades into high school curriculums, which would provide students options to college and encourage employers to do business in central Maine.
Hamilton said he wants to focus on climate change, reducing the cost of college Maine students and helping eliminate the political divide within the state.
As a lifelong Mainer and farmer, Hamilton said he knows what others in the state want.
“I think young voters are finding the political divide to be confusing and disheartening,” he said.
In order to get through the struggles within the state budget, Hamilton said political parties in Augusta need to work together to consider all options available for Mainers.
“Both parties need to work together so not just one party is doing the work,” he said. “They need to work on a consensus.”