2018-05-24 / Front Page

Two vie for district that covers downtown


John Eder John Eder On June 12, 2018 Maine will hold a primary vote for candidates who will represent their respective Democratic or Republican parties in the fall election. One of local contested races will be between John Eder and Victoria Foley for the District 12 (Biddeford) State Representative Democratic bid. The current District 12 State Representative is Marty Grohman-D, who is vacating his seat to run for congress. Their candidate surveys appear below, in alphabetical order.

Name: John Eder

Age: 49

Address: 69 Sullivan St., Biddeford

Phone: 205-8939

Occupation: Grassroots organizer

Family: partner, Lauren Besanko; daughter, Stella Besanko


Victoria Foley Victoria Foley Education completed: high school; currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science

Organizations and activities (including past political experience): Served two terms in the Maine House of Representatives (from 2002 to 2006), chaired numerous committees, and served on numerous committees and boards. Elected to the Portland Board of Education, Cumberland County Charter Commission.

Top three issues:

Our trades are dying, and at the same time, many young people are saddled with college debt and unable to find decent-paying jobs that will allow them to purchase a home or start a family. Building from my experience in serving on a board of education, I will work to expand vocational education and job-training programs so that young people will have the opportunity to learn a trade that will pay decent wages without incurring debt. I will also work toward debt-free state college and university education in exchange for students performing public service in Maine.

Health care is a human right, not a privilege. Since I last served, the problem of uninsured Mainers has not improved. In my previous legislative career, I introduced legislation to gain health care for all, a plan that an unbiased study funded by the legislature showed we could implement in Maine at a savings over how we administer health care now. I will honor the will of the voters and work to expand MaineCare.

Wages have remained stagnant while the cost of living has skyrocketed. Many young people can’t afford their own apartment, let alone afford to buy a home and raise a family. I will work hard to increase the minimum wage and fight for livable wages.

Why are you seeking elected office?

I want to steer the Democratic Party back to its core values of fighting for working families and preserving the middle class. Today’s generation is doing worse than their parents. Many young people are saddled with crushing college debt, they can’t find jobs that pay a decent wage, they can’t afford health care, and they can’t afford an apartment or to buy a home so that they can start their own families. We’re moving backward.

Experience is important. For the past twenty years, I have built good relationships with many town officials, progressive activists, and legislative leaders from across the state. Many of the legislators I’ve worked with are still there. I know the legislative process well, and will hit the ground running. I will focus on the legislature and my constituents to offer top-notch service, and will put my experience to work to make sure our future generations have a good opportunity to thrive. Name: Victoria Foley Age: 34 Address: 26 Mason St., Biddeford Phone: 409-5115 Occupation: Director of marketing, New England Cancer Specialists

Family: My partner, Kevin, is a Navy veteran who works at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. I come from a tight-knit family and was born and raised in Maine. My parents were small business owners while I was growing up, and have now moved into the house across the street from me.

Education completed: Bachelor of Journalism (Honors) from the University of King’s College

Organizations and activities (including past political experience): City Councilor for Ward 5 in Biddeford (appointed June 2017, elected November 2017)

Downtown Development Commissioner, Biddeford (fall of 2016 - present); board member of Heart of Biddeford ; board member of Shuttlebus-ZOOM; board president, Greater Portland Health; six-year volunteer, Girls on the Run.

Top three issues:

I am passionate about increasing access to affordable, high-quality health care for all Maine people. This includes implementing Medicaid expansion, as approved by voters. I work and volunteer in health care, and I have seen the difference it can make to be able to get care when it is needed. Health care access is also critical to combating the opioid crisis and helping those with substance use disorder across the state. As board president of a Federally Qualified Health Center, and through my day job, I’ve seen the devastating impact of the opioid crisis on Mainers, as well as the value of treatment programs. We as a state must do what we can to help support the programs and services that will help those with substance use disorder move forward with their lives and return to being productive members our communities.

Economic development is key for Maine. As our population has aged, it has become increasingly important to attract and retain young people in our state. And how do we do that? We need to make sure we’re listening to the needs of small businesses, and entrepreneurs who want to come to Maine. Our aging population means we must recruit younger people, and that means supporting policies that create opportunities and good-paying jobs to encourage them to make their homes here. Last summer, I suggested the City of Biddeford look at offering non-contiguous service for downtown restaurants so they could have seasonal patios as many other cities do - and Senator Deschambault took that idea to Augusta and helped it become a real possibility by changing the law on non-contiguous service.

We need to act to make sure our communities are ready to support the needs of our older population. Aging in place is a big part of that. There need to be policies that support caregivers, adult children and others who assist elders so they can remain in their homes as long as they wish. We need reliable and accessible health care in our communities. There should be robust transit connections so people can get to the grocery store, or to church, or to the library, when they need to, even if they don’t drive or have access to a car. Of course those policies don’t just benefit elders - they’re good people of all ages.

Why are you seeking elected office?

Biddeford is a unique city that honors its rich history while looking toward the future. Through my service on the City Council, I have worked with my fellow councilors to give residents a voice and help guide the City forward. As we work to encourage more young people to come to Maine to ease the tax burdens on our aging population, it’s important to have perspective on what both groups need and want to see in their communities: things like health care access, fair taxes, and great education through our public schools. It’s also important to recognize that we can achieve so much more by coming together than by staying divided. I am excited to bring a collaborative, positive spirit to representing Biddeford’s interests in Augusta so we can help the hardworking families in our community, and our state, continue to thrive.

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