2016-10-28 / Making it at Home

Two candidates compete for Senate District 32

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By ALAN BENNETT
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — The race for Senate District 32 has reached top speed as Republican candidate Matthew Stone takes on Incumbent Democrat Susan Deschambault for her seat in Augusta.

Senate District 32 encompasses Alfred, Arundel, Biddeford, Dayton, Kennebunkport and Lyman.

Deschambault, 68, of Biddeford, is a single mother with an adult son. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, and is a retired social worker for the Maine Department of Corrections, a job she held for 43 years.

She is the current chair of the Biddeford Planning Board, a member of the School Policy Committee, and a former member of the York County Budget Committee. A former two-term city councilor and 12- year police commissioner, she continues to serve on several local and state committees.

Deschambault said she is seeking re-election because she wants to address the needs of all six communities in her district.

“Each area has a unique need for advocacy on the state level, and I will continue to address and promote their individuality,” she said.

Stone, 28, is from Litchfield, and lives in Biddeford. He attended the University of Southern Maine before dropping out to work full-time on Peter Mills’ 2010 gubernatorial campaign. He then went on to work on several successful statewide campaigns, including that of U.S. Sen. Angus King in 2012.

Stone said he was compelled to run for the state Senate because he is passionate about his community and believes it’s becoming harder to raise families here because of stagnant wages, out-of-control health care costs, and a “rising tide of Third World immigration that threatens the historic character and culture of our people.”

“I saw firsthand what the Somalian refugee crisis did to Lewiston, and I never want to see that happen here,” Stone said. “These problems can be attributed to the failures of globalization.”

Deschambault said her top concerns are drug addiction, economic growth and education.

The statewide drug crisis, she said, is of particular concern in York County due to its dense population and proximity to other states. Deschambault said she will foster a collaborative response effort among stakeholders, including those with substance abuse disorders and their families, police, community leaders and treatment centers.

“We must look at the root causes of addiction and improve our response and delivery of services to those who have a dual diagnosis,” she said.

Stone said he is running on a platform of “safety, prosperity and freedom,” and is most concerned with the state’s heroin crisis, small business growth and Second Amendment gun rights.

“We need to take aggressive action against the out-of-state drug profiteers pumping poisonous heroin into our communities,” Stone said. “Law enforcement needs new tools in the fight against heroin.”

Stone said he agrees with Gov. Paul LePage’s statements that a disproportionate number of drug dealers in Maine are blacks and Hispanics from outside the state, and he is calling for criminal profiling to be used to identify suspects before they’re able to deal drugs.

Stone also called for the state to deploy its Army National Guard to the state’s border to prevent criminals from crossing state lines.

“Connecticut and Boston drug profiteers will think twice before coming to Maine when they see soldiers in armored personnel carriers patrolling York County,” he said.

Deschambault said Maine needs to diversify its energy portfolio expanding renewable energy sources and address the “deficiencies” in its schools to create better-paying, attractive jobs.

She also said pre-kindergarten education is important in fostering initiatives to help the next generation of students succeed, and that trade education is crucial in developing skilled labor jobs.

“I strongly support addressing the state’s need to expand career-oriented and training in trades for our high school students,” she said. “This will better prepare them to be ready, willing and able to join the labor market upon graduation.”

She said education in Maine needs to not only prepare people for the workforce, but also be affordable. She noted that many college graduates are “saddled” with debt and feel forced to move out of state to find good-paying jobs.

Stone said people’s Second Amendment rights are under “assault” by Wall Street moguls who want to exploit the state’s Question 3 ballot referendum, which will ask Mainers if they want to require background checks for individuals purchasing guns from those not licensed as firearms dealers.

“For gun owners out there, let me be clear: I will work to end this debate once and for all. The right to bear arms is non-negotiable,” he said.

Stone said his advantages over Deschambault are his “youth and stamina” and – calling his opponent a “rubber stamp for the establishment” – says he “owes no favors” to Biddeford’s current administration.

“There are many hard-working, honorable people in city government, but our leaders don’t have the best interests of our citizens at heart,” he said, citing ongoing Main Street construction taking place in light of the city’s heroin problem.

“The last thing this Senate district needs is another member of that cabal directing state funds towards their pet projects. It’s time for change,” he said.

Deschambault is relying on pure experience as it draws nearer to election day. She said her volunteer work and commitment to family and community ideals makes her the obvious choice to represent Senate District 32.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

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