To our readers,

The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century type story, ... Click here to continue

House District 94

Doudera works for affordable health care, clean energy, property tax relief

By Susan Mustapich | Oct 07, 2020

Even though Vicki Doudera is running unopposed for her seat in the Maine House of Representatives, she is still knocking on doors.

She does this because she wants to represent everyone in her district, not just Democrats, she said. She wants to know what people think and have conversations where they tell her the ideas or issues they have.

Doudera was elected in 2018 to her first term representing District 94, which encompasses the towns of Camden, Rockport and Islesboro.

She moved to Maine when she was in her early 20s, with her then-boyfriend, now her husband. They bought an old Victorian that they turned into an inn and ran it for 12 years.

Being a business owner at a young age and trying to be successful in Maine’s tourism economy made a big impression on her, she said. "I got a real sense of what many of our small business owners go through in Maine, and certainly feel for them and what they are going through in this pandemic."

Doudera ran for election to the Maine House two years ago, because she felt she could make a difference and would be a good communicator for the district. She wanted to work on issues she "felt were not being resolved, namely health care, affordable housing, property taxes. I thought I could bring something to the table with my life experience," she said.

Two years later, having served one term in office, she still believes she can make a difference and that she has made a difference. "Now knowing the ropes, I can be even more effective," she said. "In the last term, we accomplished a lot and I feel I was a good voice for my district."

In a recent video interview, Doudera responded to questions on the COVID-19 pandemic, property taxes, policing, climate change and investment in broadband internet.

The pandemic needs to be brought to an end, she said. Maine needs continued testing, and is going to need help as it faces a $850 million dollar shortfall, she said.

She is glad Maine has opened up the borders to Massachusetts residents and released them from the two-week quarantine. The tourism dollars they bring are very important to the Midcoast, she said.

"We’re still waiting for another federal aid package," she said. "We’re seeing businesses here who are in need of more aid. But also as a state, we’re going to have to look at how we make up the shortfall."

Doudera does not want this to be done at the expense of people who are already suffering. She does not want to cut services to vulnerable people, including those who live in her district. She does not want education to suffer, "when we have worked so hard the last couple of years to help schools get the relief they need and help teachers get the pay they need."

Knowing we have a funding shortfall, we will have to be even more creative, she said.

Property tax is one of the big issues Doudera hears about when she is knocking on doors. People in her district are paying high property taxes, the majority of which goes to pay for education.

Efforts to help during the last legislative session, include an increase in education funding and in the Homestead Exemption, which lowers the amount of property tax people pay she said. She supports the state fully funding education at 55%, which is the law.

Local options sales taxes have also been discussed. Doudera will have a hard time supporting any new local taxes taxes that would hit the lodging industry, she said. "Especially now, we have a lot of small mom and pop B&B’s and small motels that have been hard hit."

When asked about policing issues, she talked about a small solidarity march she organized in Camden after the murder of George Floyd. “It was really heartening that our chief of police here in Camden and Rockport, Chief Gagne, came and spoke. We’ve continued that dialog," she said. "We are lucky in this area to have community policing in place."

She does not believe in eliminating police or defunding police, but said it makes sense to look at municipal budgets and see where money is going. She knows police deal with a lot more than law enforcement and crime, including situations with people who have mental health needs or are homeless. She sees where police could use the aid of counselors, as well as a the problem that Maine does not have enough mental health providers. She supports state plans put in place before the pandemic that will help Maine "continue to attract people to the state, and providers who will help us with these issues," she said.

Doudera sees how climate change is affecting the whole state, and the three coastal communities she represents.

Due to sea-level rise, access to the ferry is almost cut off on Islesboro during storm surges, she said. People with properties near the water are dealing with issues with flood zone maps and whether they will be able to sell their properties. At the Snow Bowl there are issues with how much snow the area is going to have as well as funding the facility. The issues go on, she said, and include the rise in ticks and tick-borne illnesses.

The use of clean energy is needed to deal with Maine's fossil fuel emissions, primarily coming from home heating and vehicles, she said. She also supports exploring options such developing our own utilities and our own electrical grid, she said.

Doudera supports government efforts to expand broadband internet access in Maine. She feels fortunate to live in an area with pretty good internet, but is surprised that there are pockets all over the state that are either underserved or not served, and that there is no competition.

Doudera works as a real estate agent and recently showed a Northport property via Facetime to a couple in Colorado. They loved the property, but when they asked about internet and were told this part of Northport is not served by high speed internet, they said they love the house, "but absolutely have to have fast internet."

The need for broadband ties in not only with people who are living here, for remote schooling or telehealth, but also to attract new people to the state, she said.

"We definitely need to continue on the road to more broadband. We have to approach this just like they approached electricity in the 1930s and make sure the whole state is covered."

Doudera wants to continue to work on health care affordability and increase providers in Maine.

"We need more providers, and while here Pen Bay has done a great job of recruiting more doctors, the rest of the state needs more health care professionals."

She feels lucky that for the first time in all the years she has lived in Maine she has a health care plan through the state.

Before that, she was self-insured for 35 years. Her plan didn’t pay for anything and cost and arm and a leg, she said.

Even if people have health insurance, it has to be affordable, she said. She sees this as a right.

Doudera is thankful for the number of people who tell her they are grateful for the job she is doing, which includes “folks who are not Democrats. That makes me feel really good because I want to represent everybody, not just the people who are in my party."

When the pandemic emerged she found it gratifying to be able help people. It made her feel a little less powerless that she was helping people with their unemployment, or helping their brother get off a cruise ship in Florida or helping them get health care for their child, she said.

"It’s been a crazy 2020, and we’re getting through it. We’re doing a good job. The people in this community have been wonderful about reaching out and helping people," she said.

Election 2020 - Vicki Doudera - Candidate: Maine House District #94
If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at knox.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at knox.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.