Residents of Harpswell and east Brunswick will elect a new member of the Maine House of Representatives on Nov. 8.

After four consecutive terms, state Rep. Joyce “Jay” McCreight, D-Harpswell, cannot run for reelection because of term limits. For the last eight years, McCreight has represented Maine House District 51 — Harpswell, northeast Brunswick and West Bath.

The Maine Legislature redrew district boundaries last year as part of a once-a-decade process that ensures roughly equal populations in all 151 districts, as required by the Maine Constitution. Harpswell is no longer in the same district as West Bath, but joins a larger slice of Brunswick in Maine House District 99.

District 99 voters will choose between two candidates: Cundy’s Harbor Republican Stephen “Bubba” Davis and Harpswell Neck Democrat Cheryl Golek.

Both candidates sat down with the Anchor in October to talk about their priorities and answer questions about current issues, such as inflation, abortion rights, the housing market, the future of the lobster fishery, and Maine’s labor shortage.

Cheryl Golek

Harpswell Neck business owner and activist Cheryl Golek wants to find solutions to the state’s shortages of housing and workers.

“If we’re going to rebuild our workforce, we have to look at our workforce shortage and our housing shortage as a crisis in our state — together. They feed one another,” Golek said.

Housing was a priority for Golek before her campaign. But on the campaign trail, she hears more about housing than any other issue.

“Everybody’s talking about it,” she said. “Everybody has a child or a neighbor or somebody in the community (for whom) either rent is insane or they’re struggling or they’re living with their family.”

She has knocked on the doors of modest homes with six to eight adult residents who live together “because they either can’t find housing or can’t afford housing on their own,” she said.

Golek cited a statistic from the Maine State Housing Authority that in Cumberland County, 66% of households cannot afford the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment.

The lack of housing affects issues like health care and the economy, according to Golek. In Harpswell, for example, the housing crunch contributes to a shortage of labor.

For years, Golek said, she has watched fishermen move out of Harpswell “because they couldn’t afford to live here.”

Golek feels the effect on labor herself as co-owner of The Vicarage by the Sea, a home for people with dementia. The Vicarage has “lost really good employees simply because they couldn’t afford to live close enough to where they work,” she said.

Golek supports abortion rights and Maine’s current law, which allows abortion “before viability” and, when necessary to preserve the health of the mother, after viability.

“If that could be made stronger by being a right put in our constitution, I would fully support it,” Golek said.

“It really shouldn’t be a decision up to me or anybody else, and it sure shouldn’t be part of the political conversation,” Golek said. “It should just remain a right.”

As a legislator, Golek would seek to include the lobster fishery in deliberations about laws or regulations that affect lobstermen’s livelihoods. She said she will always stand behind the fishing community.

“Sadly, most of the regulations that are affecting the lobster fishery currently are federal regulations,” Golek said, like those from NOAA Fisheries that seek to reduce the number of buoy lines to protect right whales — despite regulators’ admission that they have never linked a right whale’s death to entanglement in Maine lobster gear.

State government is opposing those regulations in court, and Golek said that she will “always fully support the state” in its opposition to federal regulations that harm the fishery.

Regarding inflation, Golek wants to look into whether the state can restrict “price-gouging” on necessities like gas and rent.

“How do we put a limit on how much at a time that can be increased? Is it possible at a state level? I think we can affect that,” she said.

Golek has near-total hearing loss and communicates through a combination of hearing aids, lip-reading, and captioning devices. She wants to help the State House make proceedings more accessible to people with disabilities, not just those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

As the Legislature returns to pre-pandemic protocols, she wants to continue allowing testimony through technology like Zoom, which makes hearings accessible to people with disabilities and workers who could not otherwise attend a weekday hearing in Augusta.

Golek said that she has knocked on more than 3,000 doors in the district and has spoken to thousands of people, including Republicans and independents.

“I view being a representative of a district as being an advocate for the district, so it’s important to me to make sure I’m listening to the people who live in the district,” she said.

Golek grew up in poverty in the Cook’s Corner area of Brunswick. Today, she uses her firsthand experience with poverty and social services to advocate on poverty-related issues.

As a member of the Equal Justice Partners Circle, she has testified before legislative committees. She recently served on the Legislature’s Commission to Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Zoning and Land Use Restrictions.

“I’ve been an advocate on these issues for years, way before I decided to run for office,” Golek said. “I’m willing to do the hard work. I show up.”

She moved to Harpswell for the first time in 1986 and settled there permanently around 1995. She and her partner, Johanna Wigg, founded The Vicarage by the Sea in 1998, and live on the property. Golek has two adult sons and two young daughters.

“It sounds corny, but I’m running for state representative to give back to a community that has just given me so much my entire life,” she said.

Stephen ‘Bubba’ Davis

Lifelong Cundy’s Harbor resident and retired Bath Iron Works engineer Stephen “Bubba” Davis wants to serve as a voice for the fishing industry in Augusta.

Davis counts fisheries as one of four priorities, along with the elderly, veterans, and vocational education.

Davis fishes commercially in semi-retirement and works a part-time job on the wharf at Watson’s General Store in Cundy’s Harbor. If he wins the election, he has a goal to visit every wharf in the district at least once a week to hear fishermen’s questions and concerns.

He wants to protect Maine’s fishing heritage. “The heritage of the families in Harpswell and Brunswick and the state of Maine is huge, and being able to hand a heritage down to your children, I think, is a great thing,” he said.

Challenges for Maine’s lobster fishery include federal regulations that seek to reduce the number of buoy lines in the Gulf of Maine to protect right whales from entanglement.

Davis questions the science behind those regulations. The federal government acknowledges that it has never linked a right whale’s death to entanglement in Maine lobster gear.

Davis believes the regulations have a connection to the federal government’s support for efforts to develop wind power in the Gulf of Maine. “I’m dead against windmills in our ocean,” he said.

Davis does not object to wind power on land, but has concerns about the environmental impact of offshore wind and the logistics of turbine maintenance at sea.

His other three priorities are the elderly, veterans and vocational education. He wants to encourage students to learn a trade so they can help fill the demand for carpenters, electricians, mechanics and plumbers. He wants to learn what he can do to prevent veteran homelessness, calling it “unacceptable.” And he wants to ensure the elderly enjoy a “peaceful” lifestyle.

With Maine employers struggling to find workers, Davis would like to reexamine the state’s approach to unemployment as it emerges from the pandemic. “I don’t think that the state should be paying people to stay home,” he said. Maine’s unemployment rate was 3.1% in August.

“I think we have to encourage people that they need to go back to work, and they’re going to better their lives,” he said. He would like to see the state connect homeless people with jobs.

Housing is a problem statewide, Davis said. He has heard from fellow Harpswell natives that their children cannot afford to stay in town. He said he would ask his constituents how he and fellow legislators can help.

With U.S. inflation at 8.2%, Davis said he would listen to what district residents want from the Legislature and consider what he can do to improve quality of life for Mainers. “Gas prices are ridiculous right now,” he said. “That affects everybody.”

As some states restrict access to abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, Davis said that it is important to maintain access to abortion in cases of rape and incest, or when the health of the mother is at risk.

Maine’s law allows abortion until the point of viability, and after viability when necessary to protect the mother’s health. Davis said he does not support changes to the law, but would listen to his constituents on the issue.

“Who am I to decide what a woman can do with her body?” Davis said. “But I do not want to see it used as birth control.”

Davis urges everyone to vote, whether they vote for him or not. “Don’t let others make choices for you. Don’t let others make choices for your heritage. Don’t let other people make choices for your livelihood,” he said.

Davis encourages voters to support “the right person for the job,” regardless of party, and said that he has voted for Democrats when he considered them the best option. In Brunswick, one voter has Davis’ sign between two signs for Democratic candidates. “I love seeing it,” he said.

Davis calls himself “a proud native son” of Harpswell. He retired from Bath Iron Works after 37 years, 31 as an engineer and supervisor. He has worked as a fisherman before, during and after his career at BIW. He has long coached youth sports in the area.

After retirement, he ran for office “to give back to the community,” he said. He first ran for the House two years ago, collecting 41.82% of the vote in a challenge to three-term incumbent McCreight.

This year, he won a contested primary to secure the Republican nomination. He took 77.4% of the vote to defeat Michael Lawler, of Brunswick, according to official results from the Maine Department of the Secretary of State.

Residents of District 99 “should vote for me because I’m just an average guy working for the average person,” Davis said.