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House District 15 Race

Maggie O’Neill (Incumbent) v. Marc Chappell (Contender)

With 2020 already turning out to be a chaotic year, it also happened to be an election year. Although the US House, one-third of the US Senate, and the Presidency are significant elections this year, we are also following smaller races throughout the state of Maine.

Currently, all three House Districts are up for grabs in Saco, along with a State Senate District 31. Our first story involves an interview between Democratic incumbent Maggie O’Neill and Republican contender Marc Chappell.

The following paragraphs will summarize their interviews on a wide range of topics: reproductive rights, civil rights, environmental justice, and more.

Marc Chappell

Marc Chappell

What are your ideal goals if you are to win District 15, and how might it affect your constituency?

Marc Chappell, running for State House, answered his questions via written responses. When asked about his ideal goals if he were to win district 15, he focused on prioritizing COVID-19 recovery and economic recovery. He has rated this priority as #1, “If any candidate running for State Representative or State Senate does not state this as there #1 goal, they should not be elected.” He elaborates further on about the toll COVID-19 has had on our economy and our people, and the significance of responding quickly and cautiously. His economic recovery would be, “Invest in more career and technical education programs so that our children have a greater opportunity and more reason to stay and live in Maine.”  He emphasized that the workforce crisis and inaction on attracting graduate students will lead to an economic and societal challenge. He supports wide grants and incentives for students to stay in the state. Moreover, he supports, “Across the board state budget cuts & responsible state spending,” and no more new taxes. One of his last major ideal goals were to lower energy costs and incentivize clean energy.

When the State Legislature reconvenes, what are the responsibilities that the legislature must uphold regarding our COVID-19 response?

When asked about the responsibilities of the State legislature in our COVID-19 response, he replies by ensuring that the 130th Maine State legislature reconvene as soon as possible and invest into a space where elected officials can safely proceed with a normal session. He strongly supports regular testing protocol and Zoom meetings for committee meetings.

How will you represent students in our legislature?

He responds that he must know where the students’ interests are at. He wants to establish a “Voices of Youth for Saco” committee in order to channel the students’ interests effectively.

As Climate change becomes an increasingly important issue amongst Mainers, do you have any plans or intentions to advocate for environmental justice/reform?

Mr. Chappell admits that he does not know a lot about climate change and its environmental impacts. He plans on using his first year in office to know more about climate change and its impact as personal growth in regards to the issue of climate change. He values Saco’s input, saying that “Taking input for Saco constituents is great and I will listen to what is offered by Saco citizens.”

There has been a social movement in our country fighting against racial inequities in our society. Do you have any plans or policies that you might address in the legislature?

Mr Chappell does not have any policies or plans on the matter, and would value input from a committee like, “Voice of Youth for Saco.”

What are your views on reproductive rights?

He personally supports Pro-Life with the exceptions of situations of rape, incest, and risks to the mother’s life. He strongly opposes taxpayer funded abortions. If there was a bill centered around banning abortion, he would support the bill with the exception of situations mentioned before.

How might you overcome the potential revenue reduction to the State budget?

Marc Chappell supports a, “percentage reduction across the board of all state agencies for the next budget year.” He elaborates further on restricting state spending to critical expenditures. He plans to support delaying state funded projects, and eliminate excess state employees that are currently vacant. “So long as we are able to reduce state spending and have a balanced budget, I will propose that we have to use any new tax and/or revenue stream to lower the State debt until it is paid off.”

Why should the voters in District 15 vote for you?

He emphasizes that his 30+ years of fire service career has developed his leadership skills and his cooperation with “different personalities, cultures, family backgrounds, needs and wants.” As a US Air Force veteran, she takes pride with the values of honor, integrity, trust, and pride. He ensures that he will make timely decisions and lead by example.

Maggie O’Neill

What are your ideal goals if you are to win your reelection campaign and how might it affect your constituency?

Representative O’Neill explicitly expresses that her goals are based on the goals of the community. She focuses on making sure that her constituents have accessible communication with her: that might take in forms of phone calls, messages, and even in person. She told me about her constant contact with the governor and the CDC to inform her “concerned constituents”.  She also pointed out that she wants to keep in touch with folks in the community about any issues or concerns they might be facing.

When the State Legislature reconvenes, what are the responsibilities of the legislature in our COVID-19 response?

Ms. O’Neill showed strong interest in healthcare, schools, families, municipalities, and small businesses. She wants to advocate for wide accessibility of healthcare and ensuring that people have the “coverage to be safe.” She takes pride in her efforts in guaranteeing that COVID-19 tests do not have copays, insured or uninsured. Her plans are to focus on coordinated vaccine efforts, “When an approved vaccine comes out, we’ll need to make sure that everyone can access it.” In regards to our schools, she empathizes with Saco students. Currently, she is enrolled in Maine Law and it has been “hard learning from home.” She prioritizes that schools shall be provided with everything they require: PPE, classroom resources, resources for learning and making the most of the year, access to childcare, supporting staff with the resources they need. Furthermore, she will focus on families, making sure that people can, “make rent, pay their mortgage, get the food they need, access childcare and access healthcare if they’ve lost coverage.” She wants to pass relief to municipalities that will be facing revenue shortfalls and to avoid impact on property taxpayers. Plans for small businesses during the pandemic, include advocating for more federal relief for small businesses. “We’ll need help from the federal government to help actual small businesses in our communities instead of larger ones who have swooped in and gotten the relief.”

How will you represent students in the legislature?

She will represent our students to, “make sure that we don’t reduce our state education dollars and support during COVID. She is open to and encouraging student input on how to represent students properly. In regards to college students, she wants to ensure that tuition can stay affordable despite potential cuts to the State budget with damages to the tourism industry. Overall, she wants to directly communicate with the students on what they want to see done, even beyond the education field.

As Climate Change becomes an increasing problem in Maine, what are you policies/intentions on environmental justice/reform?

“It’s important for Maine to address and combat climate change because we are being directly affected: our gulf is warming, harsher weather, drought, coastal erosion, losing our shimp and our lobster industry.” Representative O’Neill has been known to be a strong environmental justice advocate and ran her 1st and 2nd campaigns with goals around preservation and conservation of public lands. In her current campaign, she is proposing legislation that will protect water and access to water, enact strong pollution controls, advocate for underrepresented groups that are negatively affected, and support the Maine Climate Council’s recommendations coming out in December of this year. She is drafting proposals about reducing our carbon footprint in the transportation sector by building infrastructure adapted to renewable energy.

There has been a social movement against racial inequity. Do you have any plans/policies that you might address to combat racial inequities?

“As I have been learning from law school, racism has been built into the fabric of our legal system and society. This is from our tax code, to our property laws, and to our criminal justice system. I have enrolled myself in a class that informs me about racial injustices and what we can do to address it.” O’Neill strongly believes that investing in our education system for all family structures and criminal justice reform will be her base for her term. She also talked about a commission that formulated recommendations for potential bills like tribal sovereignty and investing in poorer communities.

What are your views on reproductive rights?

Maggie O’Neill supports abortion accessiblity and would like to see tax payer funded programs that can not only provide abortion, but provide other necessities that might be required. “Reproductive healthcare is healthcare.”

How might you overcome a fiscal problem in the state, given that there might be a revenue shortfall?

“We are obviously in the middle of a recession right now. The major question we must ask ourselves, is how do we make sure that we support businesses and communities, but not roll back important gains. This includes education funding and property tax relief that we accomplished over the past two years.” She expressed that we have to have more of what we need, not less. O’Neill elaborated by saying that we shouldn’t do across the board budget cuts because of the major consequences. On another note, she details that she will use her experience with tax law and look to close loopholes in order for the wealthy and the corporations to pay their fair share. She ends her response by saying that she has looked at creative solutions before in difficult fiscal situations such as her opioid bill. “People need support right now, not added pressure.”

Why should the voters in District 15 vote for you?

 “I’m here to make the best decisions possible for our community. I make my priorities based on what I hear from all of you. I’m also motivated to work for a better future here in Maine and create a state government that works better for all of us. It’s been my goal to: be accessible, elevate your ideas, explain my thought process, and prioritize our community’s needs.”

Cole Cochrane
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