The soul-destroying clash of presidential politics this election year is enough to put anyone off. There is some solace in turning to local elections, where there is still decency and common sense to be found.
There are eight House districts that include at least one Hancock County town. In three the incumbents were term-limited, leaving the field to newcomers. In District 130, voters (Bucksport and Orrington) are looking at Republican Kathy Downes, Bucksport’s town clerk for decades and a current town councilor, against Democrat Nicolas Delli Paoli. He arrived in Maine just a few years ago, and his focus is on the environment, sustainability and outdoor recreation.
In House District 137 (eastern Hancock County), Republican Meldon “Micky” Carmichael of Greenbush is running against Democrat Maxwell Coolidge of Franklin. Coolidge is an attorney in Ellsworth. Carmichael is self-employed.
The third race with no incumbent is House District 135 (Bar Harbor, Lamoine, Mount Desert). The race features Democrat Lynne Williams, Republican Timothy Oh and independent Ben Meiklejohn. The district is strongly Democratic, but all three candidates show an affiliation for causes associated with the left.
Williams is a Bar Harbor attorney with a decidedly liberal bent. She is a former chairwoman of the Maine Green Independent Party and a one-time candidate for governor for the Greens. She made a previous run for the Maine Senate. She has been active in issues surrounding the legalization of cannabis in Maine.
Oh, the Republican, has the bona fides to run in this left-leaning district. Oh is a dentist who has devoted significant time to underserved populations. A former president of the Maine Dental Association, he is director of the Caring Hands of Maine Dental Center, which brings dental care to MaineCare and Medicaid populations.
Meiklejohn, the independent, has also been chairman of the Maine Green Independent Party and staffed the Greens in the Legislature. Meiklejohn has (relative) youth on his side. All three of these candidates could appeal to district voters and it will be one of the more interesting matches to watch.
The other independent running in Hancock County is Teresa Montague, a candidate in Senate District 8. She is matched for the second time against incumbent Kimberley Rosen, who squeaked through a primary, and second-time Democratic challenger Bev Uhlenhake of Brewer. Uhlenhake has years of service on the Brewer City Council and her first run against Rosen gave her wider name-recognition. Rosen, who has never lost a race, rebuffed both in the 2018 election.
Two Hancock County incumbents are running unopposed. Sarah Pebworth, a Blue Hill Democrat, has had a clear path from the get-go. Genevieve McDonald, a Stonington Democrat, had a primary opponent but is unopposed in the general election.
That leaves three incumbents vying with challengers for a second term. Novice status is particularly challenging this year when retail politics are mostly off the table. Incumbents have the edge in any race unless they have completely bombed in their first outing. That is not the case with any of this crop of last year’s freshmen; there have been few rumblings of discontent in their districts.
Sherm Hutchins, a Republican from Penobscot with deep roots in his community, faces Democrat Veronica Magnan who served in the 124th Legislature. Hutchins won his previous race with 53 percent of the vote.
In House District 132 (Ellsworth, Trenton), incumbent Democrat Nichole Grohoski is up against Republican Michelle Kaplan. Grohoski has earned a large and happy following for diligent legislative work and careful attention to her constituents. Kaplan is well known as an Ellsworth city councilor and a physician’s assistant.
In House District 136, incumbent Republican Billy Bob Faulkingham is up against former Hancock County Commissioner Antonio Blasi, a Democrat. Blasi has done little to endear himself to those on the other side of the aisle, the side where most voters in that district live. Faulkingham is an amiable local lobsterman and former Gouldsboro selectman. The tea leaves look good for Billy Bob.
The race with different dynamics is Senate District 7, where the incumbent, Democratic Sen. Louie Luchini, who served four terms in the House before shifting to the Senate in 2018, is being challenged by former four-term Republican senator Brian Langley, who also served one term in the House.
Both are well known in their home community of Ellsworth and throughout the district. Luchini is a cross-country runner and coach, while Langley and his wife, Jane, own a popular Ellsworth restaurant, this year’s recipient of the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce Top Drawer Award. Langley also created the “Ellsworthy” campaign to honor local businesses and more recently to raise money for COVID-19 business adaptations.
All these citizens are doing their part for Hancock County. Now it’s time for you to do yours, a much easier task but no less important. Vote.