Political Profile: Sue Bernard

Published: Nov. 5, 2022 at 9:50 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -Kelly O’Mara, NewsSource 8: What are your top three priorities if elected, in the coming legislative session?

Sue Bernard, Republican Candidate State Senate District 1: My first three priorities, I guess, would be what people are telling me and that is that they are very concerned about the cost of energy, whether it be gas or oil, home heating oil, electricity or even diesel, which brings our goods to market. So, I think that we need to re-examine our state energy plan which has in it, mandates, for, for example, when we have to have electric cars on the road and no longer use fossil fuels. We can’t afford to take any kind of energy off the table like fossils fuels right now. We need to have all of those options there and then some. Which brings me to my idea for increasing the use of hydro power. Hydro power has a great base load that’s there all the time. It doesn’t require to have the sun shining or the wind blowing. So, we have to raise that cap. Right now, we have a cap on there. I think, no other energy source has a cap. And so, we have to re-look at that. The next one is about work force or the lack there of, I guess, of work force. People are talking about why on earth we had a work force prior to covid, these people didn’t just get up and leave the state, so where are they now? There’s help wanted signs everywhere. We need to be able to get good workers. We’re all about helping people who are in need, but giving money to people who are able bodied, when they can work, is a problem. Many employers are offering to train good workers, so they’re doing their part, the employers are. We need to incentivize and reward the behavior that we are looking for, which is to go back to work. Not to stay home. We could redirect some of the money that’s being use to have people stay home and incentivize them to get back to work. Or to pay those people who have stayed at work the entire time. And the other part is about education. We have a very difficult time, it was hard for the teachers, it was hard for the students, it was hard for the parents. That never can happen again. So, I support the people that made education continue. I also support school choice. We also need to look at supporting more post high school level certificate programs. A great certificate program for example would be the professional logging contractors and the community colleges where you can just go out to the woods and learn that profession in a few short weeks and get out there and earn a very good living.

Jason Parent, Aroostook Partnership: Alright Sue, we have about 2 minutes left with you and the next question is what are your thoughts on population growth, or perhaps other strategies, to address our qualified employee shortages, that you just mentioned, here in the region?

Sue Bernard, Republican Candidate State Senate District 1: I’m in support of any and all initiatives that would bring eager and willing workers to our area to support employers who have openings and most of them do. I was part of a committee that was connected with the Aroostook Partnership that lead now to a connection with Boots to Roots. Boots to Roots is an organization that helps veterans that are leaving the military, either retiring or just transitioning out of the military to get a civilian job and we would really like to offer them here in Maine, because we feel we have an awful lot to offer here in Maine with fishing, hunting, just a wonderful way of life to bring up your children and I think that that’s going to bring in people who are from the military who may want to come back.

Kelly O’Mara, NewsSource 8: And you have about a minute left for this last question, which is Aroostook County’s workforce participation rate continues to decline and is currently at 54% for residents 16 and older. What do you feel the barriers are to increasing this important metric and what are your ideas to reverse this trend?

Sue Bernard, Republican Candidate State Senate District 1: I think I’ll have to reiterate what I said before and that is to possibly look at redirecting some of the money that is being given to people who are staying home at this time. We want to be able to incentivize them to go back or to stay where they are. Employers need our help. If we don’t, we’re going to be crushing down on our entire economic way, we won’t have an economy, we won’t have places to go, we won’t have stores to buy from, so we need to be able to help those employers by getting employees back into the workplace. I would like to see money redirected toward that.>