On Nov. 8, West Boothbay Harbor resident Wendy Wolf is challenging incumbent Stephanie Hawke to represent District 89 in the Maine Legislature. Wolf is running as an Independent, a choice designed to give her the freedom and flexibility to represent her constituents effectively.
“While I think we have a wonderful state, right now we are lacking leadership,” said Wolf. “I’ve got experience in health policy and consensus building. The legislature needs a different focus based on ideas that make Maine move forward. I want to take good ideas no matter where they come from.”
Through her experience as a pediatric cardiologist, Wolf gained valuable insight into the health care system from the front lines. She entered the world of health policy after earning her master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health and served for 15 years as the founding (first) president and CEO of the Maine Access Foundation beginning in 2000. She recently stepped down from the organization and has turned her attention to the people of Maine. Her passion is rooted in a belief that everyone in the country should have health care.
“I’ve always voted for the person, not the party,” she said. “I think that should be the criteria.”
Wolf is supporting the proposed roundabout in Boothbay and looks at the issue as a traffic problem, not a referendum on developer Paul Coulombe. “I don’t want to cloud the discussion with thoughts on the golf course,” she said. “We have a traffic problem at the Common. The problem is longstanding and only getting worse with the popularity of the botanical gardens.”
Wolf also serves as the chairman for the Joint Economic Development Committee, a Boothbay Harbor-Boothbay partnership designed to spur year round, economic growth in the region.
“We have to come together as a peninsula and get an idea of our special assets,” she said. “For the existing businesses, we need to find a way to grow jobs.”
Wolf identified broadband internet access as essential to tap into the growing world of telecommuting in rural, remote areas.
“We have a lovely place where people want to wake up every morning in an amazing spot,” she said. “We need to have those conversations on both a local and state level.”
Wolf is especially eager to develop renewable energy sources such as solar power and wind power to ease the high cost of heating homes in the region. “It’s a huge chunk of change out of people’s daily income in the winter,” she said. “Cheaper energy results in more disposable income. We could also generate excess capacity energy to export to the rest of New England.”
The state needs to create products which people outside Maine want to buy, she added.
On the ballot questions, Wolf is not in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, citing a lack of existing research on the long-term effects of the drug and the potential impact on children.
“We have a good example with cigarettes,” she said. “They were supposed to be just for adults. The rush to have widespread legalization of marijuana is premature.”
With the Boothbay region fighting a growing opioid epidemic, addiction treatment is on the mind of many voters. Wolf believes public education is the key to stemming the problem and favors incarceration for those who sell the drugs.
In regards to rank choice voting, Wolf is unsure if ballot question four solves the problem the initiative seeks to address.
“Despite the complex mathematical models, you’re not really perturbating the two-choice system,” she said.
Ballot question three seeks to require a background check for virtually all gun transfers in Maine, with some exceptions. “I fully support the 2nd Amendment but every right we are given through the Constitution comes with responsibility,” said Wolf. “Part of responsibility is safety and I believe background checks are part of responsible use.”
Wolf, who has two adult children with her partner of 30 years, Mary Neal, feels the contentiousness currently on display in Augusta can be cured by common sense and communication. “I have the experience on a state and federal level to bring people together and begin a dialogue on what matters most to Mainers,” she said.