FORT KENT, Maine — By all accounts the race between Senate President Troy Jackson of Allagash and Rep. Sue Bernard of Caribou to represent Maine’s Senate District 1 is a close one.
With the election just about a week away, Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times provided both candidates with an additional opportunity to share some profile information about themselves with voters.
The district includes towns in northern, northwestern and central Aroostook, including Caribou, Fort Fairfield, Ashland, Masardis, New Sweden, Allagash and Fort Kent
Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times posed identical questions to both candidates. Below are their replies, in alphabetical order of the candidate’s last name.
Name: Sue Bernard
Why are you running for this office? I’m running for this office because we need a change in direction. I was encouraged to run by colleagues inside and others outside the legislature who know me well. I’m looking forward to finding fair, common sense, practical solutions that benefit all of us…this is possible when we communicate across the aisle. Most of our challenges have nothing to do with party. We all share the issues of a rural northern tier state.
Education: Graduate of Fort Fairfield High School and Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism.
Employment: I started my career while still in college as a reporter at WAGM TV Presque Isle and later accepted a position at radio station WITS Boston in their newsroom as an anchor and reporter. I returned to Maine to work for WCSH radio news before accepting the News Director/Anchor position back at WAGM TV–full circle! After 20 years, I was offered a job at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland where I spent 10 years as their Communication Director for the state.
When my mother was in failing health, I came home and accepted the job as Dean of Development and College Relations at Northern Maine Community College. Before retiring this summer, I served as the Executive Assistant to the President.
Family: I‘m married to my husband Karl “Chuck” Kornchuk and we have a daughter, Krista.
What are our region’s top three priorities? Our region’s top priorities are energy, growing the labor force and encouraging others who enjoy all our region has to offer to join our economy.
The first step in getting control of energy costs (whether home heating fuel, gasoline, diesel or electricity) is to take another look at the state’s energy plan which is minimizing the use of hydropower while encouraging solar power…the most expensive power we have. The cost of electric vehicles are also out of reach for most Maine families. And they are certainly not efficient or effective for farmers and truckers especially in winter. We are simply not ready to take traditional energy sources off the table. Energy prices impact all our costs.
Who hasn’t seen help wanted signs everywhere you go or was disappointed when a favorite business permanently closed its doors? Our workforce has to participate again as it did before the pandemic. We need to incentivise able-bodied workers to work, rather than stay home. And we have to help businesses get back on their feet so they can employ more people.
And finally, we have so much to offer in Northern Maine and the entire state. Low crime rate, welcoming communities, comparatively low real estate prices and a great outdoor heritage. We need to market these qualities around the country to those who want to participate in our growth and success.
Name: Troy Jackson
Why are you running for this office? I am running to continue to give Aroostook a voice and to push for the prosperity we deserve here. I also believe strongly that small business, working men and women, and seniors need an advocate for them in Augusta.
Education: I graduated from the University of Maine at Fort Kent with an Associates degree in Business.
Employment: Not answered.
Family: My partner is Lana Pelletier and we have two grown sons Chace and Camden Jackson. We have a home in Allagash and reside there.
What are our region’s top three priorities?
Create and protect good-paying jobs in Aroostook County. I’ll continue to stand up to out-of-state special interests and southern Maine politicians to protect, defend and create good-paying jobs right here in Aroostook County. Nothing compares to the work ethic here. People don’t want a handout — just a chance to work hard and build a good life. That’s why I sponsored laws to protect good-paying jobs at Twin Rivers and create a hundred new jobs by bringing the potato processing plant to Washburn. More than that, the potato processing plant is required to use a higher percentage of Maine-grown potatoes — supporting our farmers and food producers. I’ve already begun conversations with other business leaders interested in doing the same.
I have sponsored the bill to create the northern Maine transmission line and last week the PUC gave its initial approval of the construction. This is the biggest investment in Aroostook County since Loring with over a billion dollars being invested. This can change our County with the jobs it will create in the construction, but also with the cheap power it will create. This has been talked about my entire life and I got it passed knowing that the power we could generate here could transform us even before we ended up in the energy crisis we are in now. This will give us low cost reliable power created right here in Aroostook and allow the forest products industry to invest in biomass that is crucial to the industry.
Lastly, keeping the veterans home open was about following through on our promise to our veterans but it also meant saving jobs. I am still blown away by the staff who spoke up about the closure because they loved their jobs.