Lucas St. Clair helped win national monument designation for the land now known as Katahdin Woods and Waters, and he’d like to win the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in Maine’s 2nd District.
St. Clair is executive director of Elliotsville Plantation Inc., a land conservation organization. He also serves on the board of the Quimby Family Foundation, formed by his mother, Roxanne Quimby, in 2004. The Quimby family donated 87,500 acres of Maine wilderness that became the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in 2016, an effort St. Clair spearheaded.
St. Clair graduated from Gould Academy.
Maine Public’s Mal Leary talked with St. Clair about what sets him apart from his two Democratic primary opponents:
Leary: There are three Democrats seeking the nomination in the 2nd Congressional District, and on many issues, you all sound pretty much alike. What specific proposal or proposals sets you apart from the others?
St. Clair: I think the most specific is the support that I have for ranked-choice voting and the fact that I signed onto the lawsuit for the implementation of ranked-choice voting this primary election. None of the other candidates signed on to that lawsuit. But I felt like it was incredibly important to make sure that the will of the Maine people are represented at the election.
Leary: The polls are continuing to show that jobs is the biggest concern for voters in the 2nd District, as well as the whole state. What would you do, as a member of Congress, to help grow Maine’s economy?
St. Clair: I think there’s a real importance in investment in infrastructure. I think without high speed Internet — in most places in Maine we have the slowest Internet speeds in the country. We need to make sure that we invest in that infrastructure — our roads, our bridges. An investment in rail would also be really important, to make sure that we are able to move goods and have a system of public transportation that could quickly and efficiently move people around the state.
Leary: What could you do in Congress to make that happen?
St. Clair: I think the work, specifically, in Congress would be sitting on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and making sure that we are looking for funding to be invested, and when transportation bills come through that we’re advocating to spend money on broadband, and we’re advocating to spend money on rail, specifically.
Leary: What do you see as the most pressing issue that’s before the country. And what would you do to address it?
St. Clair: Health care. Without a doubt, the most pressing issue around the country and around the state of Maine is the cost of health care, and the volatility of the health care market. It’s hard for providers, it’s hard for rural hospitals, it’s hard for the elderly population in Maine. We need to make sure that people have access to affordable health care — when they are sick and need to see their doctor, they don’t put it off because they don’t think they can afford it.
Leary: But how do you address it?
St. Clair: I think an expansion of Medicare, and put together a universal healthcare system. And my feeling is the best way to do that is expanding Medicare so everyone is eligible. And it’s a system that we all pay into, we make investments in, and we should be able to have a return on that investment for the long term.
Leary: How would that work?
St. Clair: It would be continued the way it’s happening now, where employees and employers pay a percentage of their salary and a percentage of earnings into the Medicare pot, and that money — I think that rate could go up slightly and over time a pool would be created that would that would pay for people’s health care when they needed it. And there are some tweaks that we would have to make to the Medicare system — being able to negotiate pharmaceutical prices, for example. Can’t be done right now. I think that needs to be changed. But if we have a bigger system with more people in it, more constituents in it, and younger people in it, it creates a more balanced system.
Leary: Voters participating in the June primary will be using ranked-choice voting for the first time. Assuming you plan to vote for yourself in as the top choice, who would be your second and third choice?
St. Clair: It’s not clear to me who would be my second and third choice at this point. This is really about beating Bruce Poliquin in November. And I think I’m the best person to do that.
This interview has been edited for clarity. For a longer version of this interview, aired as part of a Public Affairs special program, click here. For more on St. Clair’s stances on the issues, and other Democrats in Maine’s 2nd District race, click here. Visit our Your Vote 2018 page for more elections resources and information.