The first in a series of nine candidates forums to air on Lincoln County Television will feature the candidates for Maine Senate District 13 — Dresden and Sagadahoc County.
The forum between Holly Kopp, R-Topsham, and Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, will air at 8 p.m., Monday, Sept. 28. The Lincoln County News and LCTV are partnering to bring the forums to viewers. LCN Editor J.W. Oliver is moderating the forums.
Vitelli is the assistant majority leader in the Maine Senate, also known as the majority whip. Kopp is the vice chair of the Maine School Administrative District 75 Board of Directors. The forum was filmed at the LCTV studio on Sept. 4.
The candidates addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, including its impact on state revenues and on them personally.
Vitelli spoke in support of Gov. Janet Mills’ efforts to reexamine budgets to prepare for a revenue shortfall.
“I want to applaud the governor for taking the issue head-on. All the state’s departments prepared a 10% curtailment,” Vitelli said.
In addition, she said, “We need to look at how we can reduce expenditures, what can we expect to fund.”
Kopp advocated a collaborative approach to tackling the expected revenue shortfall.
“I’m concerned about the deficit. It is not something that is going to be resolved with a unilateral approach. It is going to take complex solutions to defeat,” Kopp said.
Kopp proposed using the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund to avoid harm to taxpayers. “We need to minimize the impact on hardworking people,” she said.
Vitelli said she appreciates how the state and its residents have responded to the public health crisis. “I’m very pleased so many people in the community have taken this seriously,” she said.
Vitelli said she recognizes the impact the pandemic has had on small businesses and the lives of families throughout the state.
“A lot has changed. My husband loves to play basketball at the Y and we put a hoop in the driveway and I shoot hoops with him,” Vitelli said. “The hardest part is not being with friends and family.”
Both candidates agreed that members of both parties need to find common ground.
“I’m the type of person who will do that. I am prepared to do that. You can’t make offers and know they aren’t going to be accepted,” Kopp said.
Vitelli said she appreciates the willingness of elected officials in both parties to work together in Augusta. “Maine is not Washington. We know how to work together,” she said.
Kopp wants to make Maine a state young people want to return to as they embark on their careers. “I want our state to be a state where our sons and daughters can come back and get a job,” she said.
Vitelli said she has a track record of listening to and representing her constituents, referencing her work in the last legislative session on bills that established a Student Bill of Rights and addressed affordability and transparency around prescription drugs.
To watch the forum, tune into Channel 7 or go to lctv.org at 8 p.m., Monday, Sept. 28.