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Meet Sam Hunkler: independent candidate for governor

Mainers will choose between Janet Mills, Paul LePage, and Sam Hunkler when they take to the polls in November.

PORTLAND, Maine — It's been 40 years since Maine had a race for governor that included only two candidates. Every other time, there have been three people on the ballot, and in 2006, there were four.

In just a few months, Mainers will again be voting for who they want to be our governor for the next four years. Two of them, Janet Mills and Paul LePage, you pretty much know. But there will be another name on the ballot — one you've likely never heard of.

Sam Hunkler was born in Ohio and has made different areas of Maine his home at many points during his adulthood, including Lewiston, Ellsworth, and Blue Hill.

"My first time to Maine, I hitchhiked to Maine with a friend after my junior year of high school. My brother was at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone," he said.

He went back to Ohio, finished high school, and went to college before joining the Peace Corps.

"In the Peace Corps in Kenya, I met my future wife, Kelly, from South Portland," he said.

RELATED: Fact-checking Maine's candidates for governor

He then went to medical school and took jobs that brought him to other states, but eventually, he and his family came back to Maine for good. The couple has four grown kids.

"One was born in Cleveland, two were born in Lewiston, and the fourth was born in Alaska," he said.

Three of them live in Maine, the fourth, in Washington, D.C., and Hunckler and his wife live in Beals.

Hunckler was a family doctor for 38 years and just retired last year. Instead of sitting back and enjoying their home in downeast Maine, he's throwing his hat in the ring for the Blaine House.

He says he's not running for governor but "standing" for governor; he explains the difference.

"[It's] more about the people coming together to choose somebody rather than someone being picked by a party to run," he said.

He adds that he has never aligned with either Republican or Democrat political parties, but considers himself more Libertarian. He knows he wants to have a different type of campaign than the other two candidates.

RELATED: Nearly two dozen bills are now Maine law

"Let's find common ground, using common sense, for the common good — and that's what I'm about. I'm taking no donations," he said echoing his campaign slogan.

But where does he stand on the issues?

On both abortion and vaccine mandates, he tells NEWS CENTER Maine he believes the government doesn't have the right to tell a person what to do with their bodies.

As far as taxes, he says he doesn't want to raise or lower them, but instead look at supporting people through homestead exemptions.

But when it comes down to it, he says what he really wants to see is more Mainers getting involved to better our state.

RELATED: Mills, LePage pick up major endorsements

"Everybody wants to know where I stand on everything and what my positions are, and I can give you my ideas but I'm one of 1.3 million people," he said. "And my idea is to bring people together to solve problems together. I don't have all the answers but I think we do."

Hunkler says that the most important thing to him is to better support Maine's children with schooling, healthy meals, and a future where climate change is manageable.

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