FORT KENT, Maine — The need for change in Augusta was the primary focus of Republican candidates who spoke at a grand opening of the Fort Kent party headquarters on Friday, Sept. 23.
Republican candidates Rep. Sue Bernard, Austin Theriault, Roger Albert and Mark Babin attended the event. All four are seeking to fill seats currently held by Democrats.
“Any solid foundation for a house is built from the ground up,” Theriault said. “Sometimes you have to remodel and start over again.”
The district includes Allagash, Fort Kent, New Canada, Saint Francis, St. John Plantation, Eagle Lake, Winterville Plantation, Wallagrass, Portage Lake, Ashland, Masardis, Garfield Plantation, Nashville Plantation and Clayton Lake township.
House District 2 candidate Roger Albert said that as a former contractor he appreciates Theriault’s analogy.
“We need to change the siding, the roofing, the plumbing, the keyword here is change, and in my district that is what I am trying to put across,” Albert said. “I’m not a politician but dog-gone-it I will go to Augusta and look to make changes.”
Albert is running against Democratic candidate Bernard Paradis for the seat currently held by Rep. Roland “Danny” Martin, D-Sinclair, who has also reached term limits. The district represents Frenchville, Grand Isle, Madawaska, St. Agatha, Van Buren, Cross Lake Township, Madawaska Lake Township, Sinclair Township and Square Lake.
Bernard, R-Caribou, who serves District 149 — Caribou, New Sweden and Westmanland — is running against Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, for Maine’s Senate District 1.
Bernard, the lead House Republican on the Legislature’s Economic Development Committee, cited the rising cost of energy as one of the most important issues facing voters in her district.
“It’s not partisan to say I’m worried about energy. I’m very worried about the cost of living, that seems to be the common theme,” she said.
Bernard said energy expenses are also driving the cost of food on grocery store shelves, to which Albert agreed.
“We are going to see people eat or heat,” Albert said. “Some people are going to freeze this winter.”
Bernard also expressed concern for the rise in crime and drug use in northern Maine.
“We have to make sure to have tough penalties on drug dealers and help for those who have become victims of it,” Bernard said.
Republican candidate Mark Babin, running against incumbent David McCrea, D- Fort Fairfield, for Maine House District 3 — Fort Fairfield, Easton, Limestone, Stockholm, New Sweden, Cyr Plantation, Hamlin, Caswell, Westmanland, Woodland and Connor Township — also attended the event.
Babin said there is one word that keeps repeating regarding current representation in Augusta and that is “change, change, change.”
“There are some issues not being addressed properly and other issues that need to be addressed,” Babin said.
Theriault said now is the time to address those issues and the Republican candidates are ready to lead that change.
“If someone has been in office for 20 or 30 years and hasn’t been able to achieve what you want to achieve, it’s probably time for someone else to have a stab at it,” Theriault said.
The Republicans’ Fort Kent headquarters is located at 143 West Main St.