By Connor Wagner, Staff Writer

The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) recently hosted a debate between local house candidates, Ed David and Andy Buckland. The issues discussed during the debate ranged from education spending to bear baiting.

Buckland started the debate and set the tone for the evening. He took the platform as someone who is honored to be running for office to give back to the community because he claims that he, “Wants to learn more about current issues, solve them, and help his community to do better.” David also discussed his professional history, saying that he has served as a lawyer specializing in family law for 39 years. He believes that his credentials as a lawyer will make him a qualified candidate and someone who can do well in office.

The debate began with a question about education spending. Both candidates support raising public education spending to the state’s promise level of fifty-five percent. Education spending includes public universities such as UMF. “UMF has a budget of 30 million dollars annually approved by the state, and that money is disappearing because revenue is disappearing,” said Buckland. He proposed the idea of, “Centers of Excellence,” which he defines as each university in the UMaine system specializing in one or two main areas; UMF would specialize in education, while UMO would specialize in Engineering and sciences because it has, “A world renowned engineering program,” said Buckland.

As college students at UMF, we feel the effects of the mismanagement of school funding from Augusta. As revenue decreases as a result of revenue sharing from Augusta, tuition goes up and Alumni cannot afford to pay back student debts or go to graduate school to further their education.  The inability to pay back student loans or the fear of the rising price of higher education can lead to what is called brain drain, which is the loss of skilled labor. Brain drain is a growing concern in Maine. Buckland argued that in order to prevent brain drain we need to, fix infrastructure, and revamp our economy, we need to fix education. He continued to stress his idea of “Centers of Excellence” in the university.