PORTLAND — With Democratic state Rep. Ben Chipman now seeking election in state Senate District 27, the race to replace him pits Democrat Rachel Talbot Ross and Republican Carol Taylor.
Taylor, however, is not actively campaigning and declined to be interviewed about her candidacy.
Green Independent Party candidate Russell Hoskins withdrew from the race after the deadline to be replaced on the general election ballot.
That leaves Talbot Ross, 56, who defeated former state Rep. Herb Adams and newcomer Anna Kellar in the June 14 Democratic primary.
The 39 Washburn Ave. resident is president of the Portland chapter of the NAACP and former director of the city office of Equal Opportunity and Multicultural Affairs.
House District 40 is comprised of the Parkside and Bayside neighborhoods, and extends on either side of Forest Avenue to Back Cove and the University of Southern Maine.
Election Day is Nov. 8.
Talbot Ross said a common topic among voters she visits is Gov. Paul LePage and his comments in Augusta about the racial composition of accused drug traffickers in Maine, as well as the profane voicemail he left Westbrook Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine.
“There is frustration with Augusta and disappointment in the governor, people not wanting to get pulled into any further debate about what he has said and done recently, but stressing the need for elected officials to build more civil relationships,” she said.
Talbot Ross said she will work with LePage and her legislative colleagues if elected, as opposed to seeking censure or impeachment against the governor.
“I don’t currently have a working relationship with the governor, but I hope to develop one with his office,” she said. “It is the best way for me to get work done on behalf of my constituents. I am only going to prepare myself to work hard with my colleagues and each branch of government.”
Talbot Ross supports Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, in the presidential race.
“I’m not actively working to get anyone elected at that level, but people do ask as I knock on doors,” she said.
The expansion of MaineCare with federal funding is a key to fighting opioid use and addiction in Maine, and Talbot Ross said she would approach the problem with a balance of law enforcement, education and treatment.
Talbot Ross said she supports the six referendum questions on the state ballot and is passionate about Question 3 and Question 4.
Question 3 would require background checks for gun sales and transfers made by non-licensed firearms dealers. Question 4 would increase the state minimum wage from $7.50 per hour to $9 next year, and eventually to $12 in 2020.
Talbot Ross said she is “generally favorable” to the other questions: Question 1 would legalize marijuana for people 21 and older, Question 2 proposes to add a 3 percent tax on incomes above $200,000 to fund education, Question 5 would create ranked choice voting for state and congressional elections, and Question 6 proposes borrowing $100 million for infrastructure improvements.
Although she is essentially unopposed, Talbot Ross said she is taking nothing for granted.
“I know I have to work for every vote,” she said. “I am knocking on doors, meeting neighbors and doing what I can to earn the respect and trust of everyone in my district.”