SCARBOROUGH — Two-term incumbent Republican Sen. Amy Volk is being challenged Nov. 6 by former four-term Democratic legislator Dr. Linda Sanborn in Senate District 30.
The district includes Gorham, part of Buxton and part of Scarborough. Sanborn is a retired family physician and Volk is a small business owner.
Volk has served two terms in the House and two terms as senator.
She said she is proud of the reputation she has for working with a variety of organizations, legislators and stakeholder groups. During the last term, she helped secure $1 million in federal funding for mothers in need of treatment for substance use disorder and housing.
Volk has also sponsored bills to address human trafficking, and to establish a victim’s compensation fund, a pardon process for victims who were charged as part of an investigation, and funding for to law enforcement agencies. She said although the state has made strides, there remains work to be done on the issue.
Volk said she hopes to sponsor legislation that would make it easier for people with criminal records to find work. In the last session, a bill did not make it through committee, but Volk said she will to reintroduce it if re-elected in November.
Another bill she sponsored and plans to resubmit was supported by district attorneys in the state and would have in part decriminalized tickets issued by game wardens and made it easier for people to pay fines online. She said the intent is to unburden the system and make it less expensive for the state to pursue certain crimes by imposing civil, rather than criminal violations.
Another issue Volk mentioned as a top priority is what she described as a “workforce, family and small business issue.” According to the senator, home day-care businesses are “henpecked” by state regulations and, as a result, are shutting down.
Volk said she does not support ballot Question 1, which would use tax dollars to provide home care for seniors and those who are disabled, because it puts middle-income families in the highest income tax bracket in the country. She said it would create a largely unaccountable quasi-governmental agency to oversee money raised through taxation, which may be unconstitutional. She also said she has additional concerns about privacy regarding medical records.
Volks said referendum questions in general need to go through a more thorough vetting process before being allowed on the ballot.
Volk gained some notoriety in August, when she called the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization, “a hate group” on Facebook.
Volk was asked to discuss a Facebook comment she made on former White House speechwriter David Sorensen’s page in August that in part said
Volk was responding to a post on the page of former White House speechwritter David Sorensen, who had commented on fellow former White House speechwriter Darren Beattie being fired after what Sorenson called a “hit piece” published by the center.
The SPLC reported Beattie spoke at a conference attended by white nationalists, according to Sorensen’s Aug. 21 post on his Facebook page.
Volk said the Maine Democratic party has used her comment to paint her as racist.
“Anybody who knows me would be able to tell you I have actually been one of biggest advocates for new Americans in the state; my record reflects that,” she said.
She went on to say, however, that some people criticize the SPLC because it targets conservatives and people of religious faith.
She said in the past the center did important work, but is now “a tool” of the Democratic party. Volk also cited a lawsuit settled out of court, where the SPLC made a formal apology to British political activist Maajid Nawaz and will make a $3.4 million payment for his inclusion on a 2016 list of “anti-Muslim extremists,” according to The Atlantic.
Volk’s candidacy is traditionally funded and she has raised $38,000, according to the latest filing data from the state.
Sanborn practiced medicine in Gorham for 25 years. After her retirement, she said, she wasn’t sure what she would pursue next, but didn’t expect to enter politics until she was asked to run for a House seat by the outgoing legislator.
Over the four terms she served, Sanborn said her confidence grew and she appreciated being at the table deciding policy on the Health and Human Services and Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committees.
When she termed out in 2016, Sanborn said she had a difficult time letting go of the work, and was then approached to run for Senate.
“So many people are discouraged, and I’ve heard from people about how frightened they are at what’s happening at the federal level and feeling like we’re going to lose our democracy,” she said, adding, “I couldn’t in good conscience not be willing to step up, so I decided to run.”
Sanborn said her primary issue is working to implement a policy that fosters affordable health care.
There are also several related issues to work on, she said, including that Maine is the oldest state in the nation, with seniors who want to age in place, but are forced out due to rising property taxes. In addition, she said, there’s the high and uncontrolled cost of prescription medications.
Sanborn said at both the state and federal levels, changes need to be made that will allow competition and the Medicare program to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies so they can’t set their own rates.
In line with the issue of aging in place, Sanborn said she is leaning toward supporting Question 1 after reading a report issued by the University of Maine’s Muskie School on the proposal. She said the proposal would cost the state less, and “it’s a good deal for everybody.”
Another area of focus for Sanborn is education.
“When we talk about welfare reform … to me, the big answer to that is education, starting from early childhood on up. Headstart programs, and early child care, it all helps,” she said.
“There is overwhelming evidence these programs pay for themselves so many times over,” Sanborn said. “We’ve got to be willing to make a critical investment.”
She said affordable college and programs to retrain adult workers, as well as investing in career and technical education, is also important to ensure people are able to earn a living.
Sanborn is a Clean Elections candidate and has raised $65,000, according to the latest state data. She has reached the maximum payout from the program for a contested Senate race after collecting $5 contributions from 535 supporters.
Party Affiliation: Republican
Family: Married, four children
Occupation: Small business owner, mother
Education: Bachelor’s degree in human development from the University of Maine
Political/civic experience: Two terms in the Senate and two terms in the House of Representatives
Website/social media: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorAmyVolk/
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Family: Married, three sons, one granddaughter
Occupation: Retired family doctor
Education: Bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Michigan State University, and the University of Illinois Chicago Medical School
Political/civic experience: Four terms as a state representative, board president of Leavitt’s Mill Free Health care Center in Buxton, advisory board of Maine Lung Cancer Association