NORTH YARMOUTH — State Rep. Anne Graham, D-North Yarmouth, must fend off a challenge by Durham Republican Paul Chace on Nov. 4 to win a third term in the Maine House of Representatives.
The candidates are running in House District 46, a redrawn district that includes North Yarmouth, Durham, and half of Pownal. Graham’s former District 109 included parts of North Yarmouth, Gray and Pownal.
Chace, 47, has been a pharmacist for almost 25 years, most of that time at Rite Aid. He previously owned a pharmacy with his wife, who also is a pharmacist. He is a member of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, the Durham Rod and Gun Club and the National Rifle Association, and served eight years on the Maine Board of Pharmacy.
This is his first campaign for elected office.
“A lot of what I’ve been doing (as a pharmacist) would be considered involvement with how we interact with our business partners, insurance companies, relationships with the medical providers and community, so I’ve done a lot of things in pharmacy that most pharmacists aren’t usually involved in,” Chace said.
He got to use his knowledge of pharmacy therapeutics to work in the business side of that world, “trying to make things more practical for our patients, more practical for our physicians,” Chace said, noting that he worked in Augusta for a few years for the processor for the state’s Medicaid program.
Chace called himself “a strong listener,” with a history of listening to people in difficult situations and trying to help them find reasonable solutions.
“The state has a lot of issues going on right now,” he said. “We have an aging population that is tempted to move away,” as well as a younger one tempted to do the same thing, “and it’s very easy for us to become frenetic about how spend our money and where we focus our resources.”
He said the Legislature must narrow its focus, to “the core issues and items that are going to get us on track as a viable state.”
Graham, 55, is married and has three sons. She is a nurse practitioner, on the adjunct faculty at St. Joseph’s College, and served on the North Yarmouth Board of Selectmen from 2007-2010.
Graham also started the North Yarmouth Economic Development and Sustainability Committee, represented North Yarmouth on a school consolidation committee, and headed Foundation 51, the independent educational foundation for Cumberland and North Yarmouth schools. She also has served on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Health Systems Development.
“I really enjoy the work I do,” said Graham, who during her time in Augusta has been House chairwoman of the State and Local Government committee. “I like standing up for the smaller communities that I represent. I feel like I’m a strong voice for health care, and for issues around children.”
Crossing the aisle
Graham said it is important to cross the aisle between the Democratic and Republican parties, and work together in a bipartisan way.
“Unfortunately, over the past two to four years (Gov. Paul LePage) has vetoed 183 bills, which is frustrating for us,” she said, adding that “looking at reform of our property tax system, reform of our welfare system, those are things we can do working together. … And I think that as we move forward, we can get a lot done working together, as opposed to fighting one another.”
In the last two years, the Legislature has tried to have a common ground caucus, which Graham co-chaired. “I would like to see that happen again,” she said.”That we make a concerted effort to find common ground, despite our partisan differences.”
Chace said that in his profession, he works with both sides of the political spectrum.
“When you’re mixing health care with business, you already do have two sides of the aisle talking most of the time,” he explained. “Everyone’s got opinions, everybody’s got ideas. We all pretty much want the same thing; the difference is maybe finding more concise and accurate ways to get there.”
He added that Augusta cannot experiment with taxpayer money, and must be focused on how it spends those funds, and what the true results of those expenditures will be, “and whether where we’re focusing our resources is really going to return a benefit.”
Chace said that when he and his wife owned their small business, it was their goal to employ as many people as they could.
But they “had to contend with the burdensome regulations facing Mainers and companies who are trying to operate a business and to provide employment in our communities,” he said.
In order to thrive, he added, we need sensible policy in Augusta, specifically lower taxes and reasonable regulation.
“Working for such policies will be my priority,” he promised.
Graham said one way to make Maine more business friendly is to encourage young people to move back to, or come to, the state.
“In North Yarmouth alone, I think that at least a half dozen families have moved into our community, and are choosing to live in our community, because it’s a great small town,” she said, “but also because Maine is one of the safest states in the country, and it’s one of the best place … to raise families.”
She said she would like to see Maine marketed to the rest of the country, as a place to bring and grow businesses and families.
Graham said people should vote for her again because she works hard, noting that more than 20 of her bills have been passed during her four years in the Legislature.
She recalled times when constituents have approached her with concerns, and she referred them to the appropriate department within state government; sometimes a bill would come out of those concerns, she said.
“I consistently work hard for my constituents,” Graham said.
Chace said the Legislature’s goal should be to improve citizens’ lives, capitalize on the resources Maine has, and capitalize on the ethic, ability to work hard, and ingenuity of the citizenry.
“I don’t know how to go half way, and I enjoy solving puzzles,” he said. “… There is always an answer; some are easier to see than others.”