Terry Hayes, who is running as an independent for governor, is a Maine native and a graduate of Bowdoin College. She has been a school teacher and managed adult education programs, and has served on the school board in Buckfield, where she lives.
Hayes was elected to the state Legislature for 8 years as a Democrat, served in Democratic House leadership and was elected state treasurer twice as an independent. She spoke with Maine Public’s Mal Leary:
Leary: There are three other candidates for governor and many of them are promoting ideas that sound similar to some that you’re promoting. What specific proposal or proposals makes you different than your opponents?
Hayes: I’m not sure I’ll know the answer because I haven’t been listening that much to them — I’ve been kind of busy so I’m not entirely sure what they’re saying. I can tell you what I’m saying about what I want to do for Maine, and what my vision is. At the top of the list is making Maine the best state in the country to work in. We have a challenge: We have thousands of unfilled positions, skilled positions across our economy, and we need to attract people to fill those positions if we’re going to be able to maintain and grow our economy. And I think the way to do that is to make Maine the best state in the country to work in. And that’s a collaborative effort between the policymakers and the private sector. And there are a number of pieces that may go into that — there may be some public investment, but some private investment as well. I’m not sure how others are talking about the workforce challenge, but that’s the way I’m framing it. And, again, not because I know all of the ingredients that need to go into that, but I’ve got some ideas and I’ve got some that I think other folks are going to want us to consider as well.
So is that what you consider to be the biggest challenge facing the state — workforce development?
From a policy perspective, there are three that I think are very close, and workforce is at the top of the list because, at the end of the day, if we don’t do better with meeting that challenge we can’t afford to do anything else. That’s that’s the goose that lays the golden egg in terms of our economy. If we’re adding value and producing goods and services that are bringing money into the state, we’re able to collect revenue, state revenue, off of that economic activity. And then we can do things that address the health care challenge, because health care is very close to the top of the list. And, you know, we need to expand Medicaid and we need to do it in a fiscally responsible way that addresses the fact that the costs of health care are higher than they ought to be, and our reimbursement rate within that program is lower, so there’s a gap. We need to address that gap as we’re expanding Medicaid.
What can you do as governor to improve the economy? Because if you talk to economists, as I’m sure you have, a lot of those factors are out of the control of politicians?
Well they are. But then there are some, what I call the soft ones, that aren’t. What’s the face of Maine? If we’re going to be the best place in the country to work, who’s going to tell that story? And how we’re going to tell it? I look at it and say we’re going to lead with our assets. What do we have that other people want? We take for granted in our everyday lives things that other people are thirsty for. We need to tell that story better and that’s the governor’s job, to be the face of Maine, not just across the country but around the globe, and to lead with our assets. And that’s that’s how we set the private sector up for success, in my opinion.
This interview has been edited for clarity. Visit our Your Vote 2018 page for more elections resources and information.