CAPE ELIZABETH — A year after a narrow win by a Democrat in House District 121, voters in November will again choose between the same candidates.
Incumbent Rep. Kim Monaghan-Derrig, D-Cape Elizabeth, is seeking her first full, two-year term in the Legislature. Her opponent, Republican Nancy Thompson, narrowly lost to Monaghan-Derrig last year, when Democratic Sen. Cynthia Dill, now a candidate for U.S. Senate, vacated the seat to run for the state Senate.
Monaghan-Derrig won the special election by 176 votes, or a margin of about 7 percent.
District 121 represents most of Cape Elizabeth.
Thompson is an insurance broker for Living Wealth Partners in Portland and is a mental health advocate. She has worked for several community organizations, including spending 21 years with the Junior League, a women’s group that promotes volunteerism. She also taught religious education at St. Bartholomew’s Church and was a board member of the Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation.
Monaghan-Derrig works in marketing and communications for Segway Tours of Portland. She was elected to the Cape Elizabeth School Board in 2010, worked as staff manager for former U.S. Rep. Tom Andrews, D-Maine, and was a staff aide to the Maine Senate Majority Office and the Maine Senate secretary.
The candidates disagree on virtually every issue before the state, including how to encourage economic growth, social welfare programs, alternative energy development and the same-sex marriage referendum.
On business development, Monaghan-Derrig said Maine needs to take a long-term approach and attract a variety business that can draw on the state’s natural resources, such as the timber, energy and fishing industries.
“All of those types of industries and those kinds of companies we really need to attract into coming to Maine,” she said. “Those jobs will likely employ 25, 30, 50 people, not 100, 200, 500. I think we need to get real and really understand that.”
She said some environmental regulations could be relaxed to help encourage economic development, but that the state should be careful about how it does that.
“I don’t think that we should be curbing environmental probating or allowing big corporations to dump toxic chemicals,” she said. “It should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.”
Thompson said lowering taxes and reducing regulation of business in Maine is key to economic development and making the state attractive for new businesses.
“The tax structure is what’s killing us,” she said. “Maine is small business. We need to cut the red tape for them and not overburden them with regulations.”
Monaghan-Derrig said Gov. Paul LePage’s cuts to social welfare programs will prove detrimental and she believes the state needs to restore that funding, especially the Drugs for the Elderly and Headstart programs.
“I think there definitely needs to be some reform,” she said. “We just can’t cut and slash and think that’s the way we should should be cutting Maine’s debt, because you really are doing it on the backs of kids and the elderly.”
Thompson said money should be focused on jobs training and connecting businesses with skilled workers.
In addition to investing in education for jobs, she said mental illness programs need more support not only for victims, but also for families.
“I think we take money and put it elsewhere when there are a lot of people that it could be going to,” Thompson said, although she was cautious about saying how it should be spent. “I’m not privy to the information and wouldn’t want to make any decisions without seeing the research.”
Thompson was reluctant to support the development of alternative energy, such as wind and solar power, and said she would be more in favor of building dams on Maine rivers to generate hydroelectric power.
“I think we’re missing the boat on hydroelectric,” she said, noting Maine should look to Canada’s use of dams as an example. “We should look into their grid and see if we can tap into it and make a big difference.”
On concerns about the environmental impact of dams, Thompson said she would “leave it up to the people who know the programs” to advise her on those decisions.
Thompson would not single out any particular industry for subsidies to develop alternative energy, but said some investments would need to be made.
“We need to be lowering energy costs,” she said. “Research is key to lessening the impact on the state.”
Monaghan-Derrig said she supports a mix of alternative energies and thinks that its development should be subsidized.
“I don’t think it’s any different than the subsidies that have been given to big oil for who knows how many years,” she said.
But with those subsidies should come accountability, she added, and the state should look at them individually.
“You just can’t throw money at things and say, ‘good luck to you in the next five years,'” Monaghan-Derrig said. “We need to make sure that they are being held accountable and that they are doing everything they need to do to follow through on the success of their businesses.”
On Question 1, the same-sex marriage referendum, Monaghan-Derrig said she will vote a “resounding yes.”
“I think everybody deserves the right to marry,” she said. “I think that this is something that in the future, in the next generation, is not going to be an issue.”
Thompson said she does not support marriage for same-sex couples, citing her religion as the determining factor. She favors civil unions.
She also disagreed with Monaghan-Derrig that the issue would be resolved in the near future, but said she would not support efforts to repeal the law if it passed.
“This is going to be a never-ending issue,” she said.”I’m glad it’s in the people’s hands.”