FREEPORT — The state House Distirct 48 election is a rematch of two years ago, pitting incumbent Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, against Republican Paul Benjamin Schulz of Pownal.
The district covers Freeport and part of Pownal.
Gideon, 44, is assistant House majority leader. She would be a candidate for House speaker if she wins the election and Democrats maintain a majority in the House.
Gideon has served two terms in the House. Prior to that, she sat for one three-year term on the Freeport Town Council, one as chairwoman.
Schulz was asked several times, via phone and email, to participate in this story, but did not respond.
Gideon said she has been “very public” regarding the latest controversy involving Gov. Paul LePage. The governor has been criticized for a voice mail he left last month with Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, who had taken issue with LePage’s statements that drug traffickers arrested in the state are mostly black or Hispanic.
Asked if she would support action of any kind by the Legislature against LePage, Gideon said she has clearly stated that the Legislature “needs to make the governor accountable for his conduct and his actions.”
Regarding the state’s opioid crisis, and the expiration in 2018 of emergency funding authorized this year, Gideon said the Legislature’s approach should be more comprehensive and more aggressive.
“The good news is that the effort is bipartisan,” she said. “It includes enforcement, but more importantly, treatment and prevention. The money hasn’t been nearly enough.”
The economy is the No. 1 problem facing the Legislature, Gideon said.
“I think that at the end of the day, everything does tie into our economic well-being,” she said. “Education, health care, climate change, jobs – we must tackle the economy first.”
Gideon said she will vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.
Regarding the most important constituent issue she plans to address in Augusta, Gideon said education funding is at the top of the list.
“It affects property values and taxes,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s about the investment in our future.”
As for the state referendum questions on the Nov. 8 ballot, she said she opposes Question 1, which would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana as an agricultural product.
“I have a real reservation about this legislation of a drug that can impair people’s ability to drive and, most importantly, impair a growing adolescent,” she said. “We shouldn’t be overly punitive (on marijuana use). I really look at this through the lens of a parent right now.”
Question 2 on education would establish a 3 percent tax on household income over $200,000. Gideon will vote in favor of Question 2.
“But we’ve got to make sure money is put into the classroom,” she said.
Gideon favors Question 3, on firearms, which would require specific background checks for gun sales and transfers. Safe and responsible people, she said, have the right to own guns, but background checks “ensure that guns be in the hands of responsible and mentally able people.”
Question 4 would increase the statewide minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020. Gideon favors the increase. “People working 40 hours a week should be able to put food on the table,” she said.
She favors Question 5, which establishes statewide ranked choice voting. “The state often sees multiple candidates. We want to make sure that people are elected with a true majority.”
Gideon said that she “100 percent” supports Question 6, which asks for $100 million in bonds for transportation projects. The money would be used for infrastructure needs that support job creation, she said, and also brings more investment into the economy.