WINDHAM — An incumbent Republican is looking to win reelection to the District 25 seat covering part of Windham, and his Democratic opponent, a former high school math teacher, is hoping her second run for the seat adds up to a victory at the polls in November.
Republican Patrick Corey, a self-employed creative director, was first elected in District 25, which covers the western and southern parts of Windham, in 2014.
“I still have a lot of work to accomplish,” Corey said. “I just spent the last four years learning the ropes there, how to usher a bill through the process, and I’ve been pretty successful in doing that. I’ve learned how to do committee work – I’d really like to go back and do those things.”
Corey, who said he is “just as satisfied working on constituent issues as I am any other issues,” would like to revisit his previous work on reforms to the citizen initiative process and his bill to allow Medicaid funds to be used to pay family members or legal guardians to provide home care to their relatives, which passed both chambers but didn’t get funded.
Democrat Jennie Butler, a longtime former math teacher at Windham High School, lost to Corey in the 2014 election. She looks to bring her perspective as a former high school teacher and current part-time instructor at the University of Southern Maine to the Legislature as a “voice for educators, for students.”
“I grew up in a family where public service was the norm – the expectation – and I have spent my whole life serving,” Butler said, noting that she attended Emerge Maine, a training program for Democratic women, after she lost the 2014 election to Corey.
She had her eye more towards the Town Council or school board, she said, but decided to run again for the Legislature after being encouraged by several people and realizing that Corey did not have an opponent.
“In part, as an educator, I don’t think that the voices of educators are typically heard or respected in Augusta, which is very sad,” she said.
Butler said her other priorities include “seniors being able to age in place,” citing her experience caring for her mother – particularly after her mother had a stroke.
Corey said he’s against Question 1 on the statewide November ballot, which asks voters if they want to create a new Universal Home Care Program for seniors and people with disabilities through a 3.8 percent tax on individuals and families making more than $128,400.
“I’m concerned that it’s a tax on small businesses, that it will give us one of the highest top marginal tax rates in the country,” Corey said, noting that the $128,400 threshold is for households and not individuals.
“And I imagine that in Windham, there are plenty of households that have – maybe a teacher and a police officer living together, and there’s a good chance they could hit that,” he said.
Butler said she hasn’t decided how she’ll vote on the home care question, but acknowledges “concerns about how the numbers are working out”
“I think the purpose is great, I don’t know if this is the right mechanism to be able to do that.
She expressed support for the idea of allowing Medicaid funds to be used to employ family members for home care services, a proposal put forth in the Legislature by her opponent.
Asked about Maine’s struggle in dealing with opioid addiction, Butler stressed expanding treatment options.
“I certainly think we need to do more to help people with addiction – opioids and others,” Butler said. “I’m certainly open to listening, and what the professionals are saying is that we need to do more to help for treatment. And it needs to be local.”
Corey called the opioid epidemic an “evolving” issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. He highlighted work in the Legislature on both the enforcement and health fronts.
“I’ve always been a big proponent of having more charity beds” for people with substance abuse disorders, he said. “I know that right now, there are programs that are sending people out of state in order to get the care they need and everything. It would be nice if we had more capacity in the state for those people.”
Corey, who supports medication-assisted therapy for people in recovery, also supported instituting stronger penalties for trafficking of the opioid fentanyl.
Maine voters approved Medicaid expansion by referendum last November, but Gov. Paul LePage’s administration has been slow to implement it. The governor has vetoed expansion funding with the backing of many House Republicans, but Corey voted to overturn the governor’s most recent veto.
“We’ve defeated it as Republicans several times, but the voters approved it, and it’s now the law,” Corey said.
“I believe it needs to be funded in a responsible way,” he added.
Butler “absolutely” supports Medicaid expansion, calling it “in part, the will of the voters.”
Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.
Party affiliation: Republican
Occupation: Creative director
Education: Bachelor’s degree in fine arts, University of Southern Maine
Political/civic experience: Maine House of Representatives (two terms), Windham Comprehensive Plan Review Team, Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors Board of Directors. Windham Land Trust Board of Directors, Task Force to Help Shape the Next Generation of Maine Land Conservation, successfully led effort against sewering North Windham in 2012, and led efforts surrounding preserving the character of Windham and protect property taxpayers
Party affiliation: Democrat
Family: Husband, two adult sons
Occupation: Retired high school math teacher (27 years at Windham High School), part-time math faculty member at University of Southern Maine
Education: Master’s degree in education, USM, 1992; bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics, University of Maine, 1983; Emerge Maine 2018
Political/civic experience: Democratic replacement candidate for House District 25 in 2014, Windham Recreation Department Advisory Committee member since 2015. Various volunteer positions, including founder and volunteer assistant coach of Windham ski teams, Windham Athletic Boosters, Boy Scouts