Mary Mayhew, former commissioner for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under the LePage administration, announced her candidacy for governor of the state of Maine last year. A former lobbyist and vice president of the Maine Hospital Association, Mayhew discussed everything from her stance on key policy issues to the degree of polarization in Maine politics with the Maine Campus last Friday.

The gubernatorial candidate visited the University of Maine amid the controversy surrounding Gov. LePage’s decision to close the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport. “In terms of efficiency and effectiveness, the governor should absolutely be identifying and acting on information to promote the most efficient and effective use of tax dollars. I had to do that as commisioner of the Department of Health and Human Services,” Mayhew said.

“I don’t have the benefit of the legal research that the governor has had to determine his options. If serving inmates is more efficient in a different facility, I think the question is ‘what is the mechanism through which you can implement that?’ and ‘does it require statutory changes?’”

When asked what she thinks the biggest challenge for the next governor will be, Mayhew said, “The challenge is going to be to stay the course, to grow our economy with good-paying jobs and not to fall backwards and [be] pro-government … [Maine is] at a crossroads. Maine is well-positioned to continue our efforts to have people who are working hard and to have businesses not only stay in Maine but reinvest in Maine and certainly attract other businesses to Maine.”

“The biggest policy is really focused on tax policy,” Mayhew said. “We’ve got to reduce our taxes, we’ve got to identify unnecessary regulations so that businesses can succeed and families and individuals can thrive. To me, that affects a host of other issues and challenges.”

As the former commissioner for the DHHS, Mayhew took what many considered an aggressive approach to welfare reform by aligning with the belief that “no one should be forced to be dependent on government and live in poverty. Everything we do should be geared toward helping a person live an independent and self-sufficient life and to fulfill their potential … and to provide the necessary resources so they can accomplish that.”

Mayhew is running as the process of ranked-choice voting is tried for the first time in the state’s gubernatorial race. An adamant opponent of ranked-choice voting, Mayhew said, “I certainly don’t support it. I think it’s undermining the integrity of the voting process.”

A native of Pittsfield, Maine and a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in political science, Mayhew would become the first female governor if she wins in November. “I’m running for governor because I believe I’m the best person for the job. It’s exciting to be a part of history in this state, but at the end of the day, I just want to make sure that we move our state in the right direction in the best interest of families, kids, individuals and businesses. And I hope to be that next governor.”