The president of the Biddeford City Council and the head of a public health coalition are competing for the Democratic nomination in House District 136, which represents part of Biddeford.

Bobby Mills, the city councilor, and Megan Rochelo, director of the Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition, are seeking to replace the Democratic incumbent, Stephen Beaudette, who is leaving due to term limits. The winner of the primary will face W. Sturgis Whalen, who is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

Mills, 44, is a second-term city councilor who is pursuing a master’s degree in management and working as a sales route driver for a bakery. Mills, who would serve out the remainder of his council term, said he will be able to hit the ground running as a strong advocate for the city at the State House.

“I want to be a strong voice for Biddeford and continue what I have done in the city and carry it forward in Augusta,” Mills said.

Mills criticized the state’s revenue-sharing system for failing to provide Biddeford with enough funds. He said the impact is seen in social services, education and other services. He also said Biddeford could get more state money for school building projects with stronger representation from the city. Another goal is to demonstrate that Biddeford has the infrastructure to be a strong tourist attraction.

Mills is confident that as a legislator he can find ways to save costs, as he said he did in Biddeford by pushing for the city to take over management of a wastewater treatment facility. A private business had long had the work contract, but Mills said it was not doing a good job and that city workers could do it better for less money.

Mills said he is passionate about environmental concerns and pointed to his support of stricter shoreland zoning rules in Biddeford as an example. He wants to work on stronger ordinances to regulate not only the trash-to-energy incinerator in the city but also landfills and businesses that are a source of emissions in Maine.

Rochelo, 33, said her work has made her familiar with how government works and affects communities. She has provided program support to overseas offices for an AIDS-prevention program run by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and has also been business manager for a University of Florida pharmaceutical research center. She is involved in policy dialogue now at Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition, part of a statewide public health network.

Rochelo said she wants to be an advocate for revitalization in Biddeford. She said it is important for the city and other communities to take advantage of their downtowns. She wants to encourage the creative economy by using a holistic approach where different sectors, like arts and health, work together.

“Especially in times when the state budget is so tight, if we can find projects that are collaborative and each group is able to chip in a little bit, we can leverage our resources,” she said.

Her other priorities include ensuring access to affordable quality health care and physical activities, environmental protection, recruiting businesses with potential for growth in areas like renewable energy and ensuring students have the education to get those jobs.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]