Lydia Crafts, the Democratic candidate for House District 90, shares her views on special education, restorative justice, and Maine’s “brain drain” in a forum set to air on Lincoln County Television at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 7.
Crafts, D-Newcastle, and Merle Parise, R-Newcastle, are running to represent Bremen, Bristol, Damariscotta, Monhegan, Newcastle, part of Nobleboro, and part of South Bristol. Parise declined to participate in the forum.
The forum will be the eighth of nine to air. The Lincoln County News is hosting the forums in partnership with LCTV. J.W. Oliver, editor of the LCN, is moderating the forums.
Crafts, a social worker at Bristol Consolidated School, said she supports the movement toward restorative justice in Lincoln County under District Attorney Natasha Irving.
“I think it could be part of a framework that would look at shifting the focus on punitive measures, imprisonment, and really looking at nonviolent offenders having access to rebuilding and repairing. Because I think that that helps all of us prosper, individuals and for their neighborhoods and community,” Crafts said.
In regard to special education, she said she sees special educators as “highly committed and dedicated staff” who not only have a responsibility to educate, but also have to deal with state and federal bureaucracy in their work.
“Free and appropriate education designated by the federal government needs to be our goal. And it shouldn’t vary depending on the wealth or the property values of your school district,” Crafts said.
Of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on daily life, Crafts said, “It’s challenging because we don’t have an end date.”
She said it is important for people to remain vigilant in protecting against the coronavirus by wearing face coverings, social distancing, and practicing proper hygiene.
In regards to combating the “brain drain” of young people going to college in Maine and then leaving to pursue a career, Crafts pointed to broadband expansion and affordable housing as two potential solutions.
“You see in the face of this pandemic, both the medical care and the education and the economic implications of small businesses trying to move toward an online platform,” Crafts said.
“In order to have a strong workforce, you need places for folks to live. I know across the state, there’s a strong effort to preserve subsidized housing that faces a potential turnover into private rental properties in the next 10 years. We’re set to lose more and more affordable housing if we don’t make that a priority as a state,” Crafts said.
The forum will air on LCTV — Channel 7 — and at lctv.org.