Democrat Erin Herbig is looking to win a third term as a state representative as she looks to focus on issues such as keeping Maine's economy competitive through job training and education.

Herbig's family reaches back five generations in Waldo County. She is a graduate of Belfast Area High School. Herbig earned a scholarship to Boston College, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Science.

She serves as the chairwoman of the committee on the Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee. She serves on the board of Maine Farmland Trust’s Maine Fare. Herbig is also a volunteer coach for Belfast Area High School’s Cross Country team.

Herbig lives in Belfast and is a member of the Belfast Curling Club.

Why are you running for office?

As someone who grew up in Waldo County, I have seen far too many of our young people and families leave for better opportunities elsewhere. I want to make sure we create jobs so our young people can stay here and enjoy the quality of life that all Mainers deserve.

What is the greatest challenge facing the state of Maine?

Maine’s greatest challenge is continuing economic growth to remain competitive in the future economy. Economic growth is the only way to provide needed services without raising taxes on Mainers. Sustainable economic growth produces stable state revenue and the best opportunity for prosperity for all Maine families and businesses.

In an online poll, our readers repeatedly raised concerns that lawmakers spend too much time fighting along political party lines and cannot seem to cooperate across party lines to get the business of the state done. Can you describe an issue in which you disagree with your political party? Can you describe a situation or an issue in which you would be willing to compromise or work with members of the other party?

My record shows that I do not vote by party affiliation. As legislators we have an obligation to vote based upon the issues presented, not which party sponsors the bill. I will continue to vote for what is best for my constituents.

For the most part, both parties at the State House are able to work across the aisle to get the business of the State done. The state budget is our best example of bipartisan work. In the four years I have been in office, we have passed budgets that required a two-thirds majority to override the governor’s veto. This has required a lot of compromise and hard work from both parties.

Many argue that cuts in state aid to education, roads, revenue sharing for towns and other areas have shifted more tax burden onto local property tax payers. What do you see as the reason for increases in local property taxes? What would you do as a candidate to address the property tax burden?

The increase in local property taxes is a result of the Governor shifting responsibility for funding local services from one section of the government to another. The Governor “cut taxes” from his budget by putting them on your property tax bill.

Shifting the burden to property owners is not responsible governing. I have been fighting policies like this since I have been in office. We must continue to look for ways to raise state revenue rather than simply shifting the responsibility.

How can we afford quality education for Maine's children and balance that need with the burden faced by taxpayers?

Viewing these issues as competing balances is the wrong way to think about the problem. A well-educated, well-trained workforce is the key to economic prosperity, which, in turn, will ease the economic burden on taxpayers.

Too frequently people take a short-term view of how we spend our money. It’s like the old adage; you can pay a little now, or you can pay a lot later. Money spent early on education is one of the best investments we can make and will save the State money in the future.

What is your position on expanding health care for the uninsured? How should that be addressed?

We have to close the gap in our system where working people are uninsured.  If they are insured, they will be better able to get the preventative care they need to stay healthy rather than using emergency rooms to treat their illnesses once they become sick. Hospitals and Mainers have covered the costs of this charity care for years. Obtaining coverage for the uninsured will ultimately be a cost savings to all of us.

What, if anything, would you change about welfare programs in the state of Maine?

Cut the fraud, not the services. The people of Maine have always taken care of their neighbors that are going through a difficult period. What we have to do, however, is be more efficient in the services we provide. Importantly, we must keep in mind that the most responsible decisions are long term. If we focus our efforts on programs that help our children, such as Head Start, the better off we will be in the long term.

Would you favor raising the minimum wage?

I support raising the minimum wage to a sensible level connected to increases in the cost of living.

What policies would you favor to encourage business and job growth? How do we balance the needs of the business community with the need for labor and environmental protections and taxes to fund public services?

Job growth is dependent upon a well-trained workforce. In Belfast we have already seen this with the growth of our heritage industries such as farming, food production, and boat building. Enhancing opportunities for all Mainer’s through good education and training specific to these industries needs to be our top priority.

Maine small businesses also need adequate rural road systems, expanded broadband access, and improved markets for locally produced products.

I do not believe that policies promoting job growth need to conflict with policies relating to labor, environmental protections or taxes. To think of these issues as being mutually exclusive to each other is misguided. The best business policy recognizes that good labor, environmental and tax policies help, rather than hinder, business growth.