Erin Herbig’s roots in Waldo County go back five generations, and her family history played a large role in guiding her to the path that she hopes will lead her to Augusta.

Herbig is running for the House District 43 seat against Belfast City Councilor Lewis Baker. District 43 includes Belfast, Belmont and Northport.

Erin Herbig

• Town of residence: Belfast

• Party affiliation: Democrat

• Occupation: Maine Farmland Trust outreach coordinator

• Previous elective or appointive office: Town of Searsmont Democratic Committee Chairwoman, delegate to the state Democratic convention.

• Clean elections candidate: Yes

Herbig, who attended Boston College, returned to Maine because she wanted to build her life here. Many of Herbig’s peers have left in search of better jobs and affordable health insurance, she said, including her own brother.

“I grew up with my great-grandparents, grandparents, my parents and all of my aunts and uncles,” she said. “It’s sad for me to see a member of my family leaving.”

Herbig was laid off from her job at Moss Inc. a couple of years ago. The uncertainty that comes with job loss, she said, showed her what many families are now facing. She wanted to work for positive change, and she took that desire into her work as a volunteer during the 2008 election season. From there, Herbig was selected to participate in several programs designed for Maine’s next generation of policy makers and economic leaders. Herbig also worked on a research project examining the barriers that keep Mainers from higher education.

All of those experiences showed Herbig ways that Maine could improve, she said.

“I’m not seeing the energy, or the passion at the Statehouse,” she said. “You need the energy, the tenacity, to work well with others.”

Herbig said the most important issue facing the legislature was balancing the budget.

“It dovetails into sustainable economic growth,” she said, adding that the way to stimulate the economy was by encouraging the creation of good jobs.

On how the state should ensure that its pension obligations are met, Herbig said the state must find a way to pay back the fund.

“It’s a responsibility that the Legislature must uphold,” she said. “Those people [retired state employees and teachers] worked for it, and they were made a promise.”

Herbig said in the long term, the state must work toward improving its own economy, as it would have a positive impact on state revenues. To that end, Herbig said, the state should also re-examine how things are taxed, and what things are tax-exempt, to find ways for the state to boost its revenues while also looking out for working Mainers.

For Herbig, helping Maine grow existing businesses and attract new employers is key to addressing many of Maine’s problems.

“I want to provide more stability for working families,” she said. “It’s at the center of the budget shortfall, it influences Maine’s revenue.”

Diversifying Maine’s energy portfolio would help, said Herbig, and the Legislature should develop an energy policy that looks ahead 30 or 40 years. That planning could eventually create jobs in manufacturing, consulting and engineering. It all comes back to working with the business community and Maine’s universities to get workers the skills they need to fill jthe obs of tomorrow, Herbig said.

Expanding broadband Internet service, Herbig said, would help Maine residents either find more employment opportunities, or create them for themselves.

Addressing Maine’s budget shortfall will not be an easy task, said Herbig, especially if increased taxes or fees are thought to be the solution. Looking at state programs such as social services is a start.

“We need to ask, ‘Are the programs modern? And do they really serve Mainers and what they need right now?’” she said.

When it comes to alternative energy, Herbig said the state should diversify the way it produced energy, and that there was no one solution.

“Everything needs to be on the table,” she said.

As part of creating a long-term energy plan, Herbig said, the Legislature should consider Maine’s geography to determine what types of power generation would work best in which areas.

For towns that could be considered for such projects, Herbig said, communication is key.

“If people feel that they’re being listened to and that they’re part of the process, that’s very powerful,” Herbig said.

The way Maine distributes funding for education, Herbig said, should change for the benefit of Maine residents.

“The thing that makes me sad is that there is such a serious tie between property taxes and education funding, and I hate that,” she said.

Herbig said she would like to see Maine fund education from the top down, and that the state should be the final step in the funding process, rather than the local communities.

“We can’t keep having this conversation about education funding versus property taxes,” she said.

Regarding what Maine has done to make medical care affordable to Mainers, Herbig said the state has not done enough.

“There need to be better options out there for small businesses and the self-employed,” she said.

Herbig suggested examining how the incoming national reform might work to help Maine in the form of grants, and allowing Maine residents to buy from out-of-state insurance companies. Exploring a single-payer system for Maine could be beneficial, too, she said.

Herbig said Dirigo Health should be scrapped.

“Dirigo had great intentions, but unfortunately it didn’t have the funding behind it,” she said.

On Maine’s social services, Herbig said all programs should be looked at to find potential savings in administrative costs, and the state should tighten up eligibility standards.

MaineCare is one problematic area, Herbig said, since people can apply for MaineCare while still residing in another state. Based on what Herbig said she had learned from speaking with local doctors, the problem gets worse from there.

“It’s pretty bad when doctors in other states tell their patients with chronic conditions to move to Maine for MaineCare,” she said.