Originally published in Castine Patriot, September 27, 2018
Incumbent faces challenge in Senate District 8
District 8 race
by Anne Berleant
Voters in Castine and Penobscot will choose between Republican incumbent Kimberley Rosen and Democratic challenger Beverly Uhlenhake on Election Day, November 6, to represent District 8 in the state senate. District 8 also includes Orland, Verona Island, Bucksport and 16 other towns in Hancock and Penobscot counties. Both candidates ran unopposed in their party’s primary race in June.
Kimberley Rosen, Bucksport
Rosen is seeking a third two-year term in the state senate after previously serving four terms in the Maine House of Representatives. She currently chairs the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, and has served on the Natural Resources and Transportation committees.
“I have friends on both sides of the aisle,” Rosen said. “I can’t think of a time when [an issue] has been cut and dried. And I don’t like to be pinned to one side or the other.
“My constituents come first,” she continued. “The main reason I ran a Clean Election campaign is so there was no way I could take big money from corporations. I don’t have that pressure, I can vote my conscience.”
Rosen said she is open to compromise on issues. As she has knocked on doors this campaign season, she said people’s top concern is healthcare. She favors and voted in favor of Medicaid expansion in Maine, vetoed by Governor LePage in July.
“We have our budget balanced, most people are working,” she said. “We just have to be careful these next few years not to overspend. I just want everyone to have affordable health care.”
Rosen is also concerned about the opioid crisis, advocating for more Drug Enforcement Agents and help for people struggling with addiction after they are released from jail, especially women. Rosen noted the number of incarcerated women has dramatically increased in recent years.
“I just feel we’re putting little Band-Aids on [the problem],” she said. “I feel we have to get tougher on it. Too many people are dying.”
Rosen said serving in Augusta is her only job. “I care deeply about the people of the state of Maine. There’s such a diversity of people. I can talk to anyone about any subject.”
A retired cosmetologist and small business owner, Rosen is married and lives in Bucksport.
Beverly Uhlenhake, Brewer
A past mayor and deputy mayor of Brewer and a current member of the Brewer City Council, Uhlenhake said she knows navigating the current political landscape in Augusta may not be easy.
“The inability of our legislature in Augusta to get things done is the reason I’m running,” she said.
Uhlenhake “absolutely” believes in compromise, despite feeling it “has somehow, in our highly partisan world, become a curse word.”
As a real estate broker, Uhlenhake “negotiates deals all day,” she said. “How can we meet in the middle to get things done? Be a listener, be tough.”
“It’s what we need to do. It’s what we do with families, friends, business. It doesn’t mean we don’t stand by our values.”
Uhlenhake said constituents always come first.
“I’ve knocked on thousands of doors with Democratic party members from Southern Maine. They don’t understand the people who live here or their struggles.”
Like Rosen, Uhlenhake said healthcare is the top issue for people in this district, and it is not “party specific.”
She also said that, with three former mill towns in the district, “the issue of jobs has come up. The unemployment rate is low across the state but people are still struggling.”
Uhlenhake believes economic development could make a different.
“How do we create incentives for new businesses?” she asked. “We know economic development in Maine is primarily small businesses. If we create a spirit of entrepreneurship to encourage that, [it’s] better than enticing someone from far away by handing out money. When the handout stops, the business goes away. We need to do it differently.”
Education funding, including reviewing policies that cost schools a lot of money, is another concern of Uhlenhake.
“The bickering about the budget in 2017 pushed me to realize I just couldn’t sit there,” she said.
A broker with Epstein Commercial Real Estate, Uhlenhake is a past executive director of the Bangor Humane Society and a current member of the Rotary Club of Bangor, serving as president in 2017-18. She is married, and lives in Brewer.