Democrats in Cumberland and York counties are competing in three primary races to replace state senators who are termed out or running for higher office.

Seats are open in Senate districts 5, 6 and 7, which cover northern York County and communities in Greater Portland.

In York County, state Reps. Don Pilon and Linda Valentino, both of Saco, are running for the District 5 nomination to replace Sen. Barry Hobbins, who must leave after four terms in office. District 5 covers Buxton, Dayton, Old Orchard Beach, Saco and part of Biddeford.

Sen. Phil Bartlett also is termed out of the Senate, leaving the nomination open for a contest between House District 126 Rep. Timothy Driscoll and Gorham businessman James Boyle. District 6 encompasses Gorham and parts of Scarborough and Westbrook.

Sen. Cynthia Dill, who now represents District 7, is running for U.S. Senate. Bryan Kaenrath, a three-term representative for House District 124 in South Portland, and former Cape Elizabeth School Board member Rebecca Millett are competing for the nomination. The district covers Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and part of Scarborough.

In Saco, Democrats will choose between two legislators who have served four terms in Augusta.

Pilon said he decided to seek a Senate seat to continue to serve and be a resource for the community. He said he is concerned about LePage administration budget cuts.

“We need to make sure that this administration doesn’t continue to cut social services and education,” he said. “This administration has gone after Maine’s most vulnerable population. If you continue to cut social services and you go after that vulnerable population, where’s the safety net?”

Pilon said he has a record of helping to fix constituents’ problems. He cited a program that he helped General Dynamics of Saco and Central Maine Community College develop. The program allows General Dynamics to properly train employees at the community college.

Valentino, who like Pilon is termed out of the House, sees moving to the Senate as a “natural transition” that would let her keep working to address economic development and veterans’ issues and streamline regulations to make Maine more business-friendly.

“There’s no magic wand, there’s no one bill that will change everything,” she said. “It’s a multitude of little problems that are hurting business, and that’s what we’re trying to tackle.”

Valentino, a Saco native, said she has strong ties to the city and is known for “doing my homework, reading all the bills and being engaged.”

In District 6, political newcomer Boyle is running against Driscoll, who is termed out of his seat in the House. Boyle owns Boyle Associates Environmental Consultants and Avant Dance & Event Center in Westbrook.

“I hear a lot of people’s concerns and frustrations about the disrespect and the partisan bickering that comes from Augusta,” he said. “I thought, instead of complaining, I should do something about it.”

Boyle said his business background has taught him to collaborate with people to solve problems. In Augusta, he said, he would work to balance the budget, control spending and focus on environmental issues.

“People want to protect the environment in Maine because of the quality of life it provides to all of us,” he said.

Driscoll, an emergency room nurse from Westbrook, said he wants to return to Augusta to continue his work on education, health care and labor issues. He supports indexing Maine’s minimum wage to the consumer price index and adequately funding education to ensure that Maine students are prepared for life after school.

Driscoll submitted legislation to enact pool safety rules in day-care facilities after a child drowned at a facility in Westbrook.

“Serving people has been part of my life my whole life. Serving in the Legislature, I feel, is an extension of what I do as a nurse,” he said. “It’s about helping people and developing a mutual respect for the people you are dealing with.”

Kaenrath said he decided to run for the District 7 seat because “I feel the direction that Augusta has been taking in the past two years is definitely the wrong direction.” Serving in the Senate would let him be more active in changing that direction, he said.

Kaenrath said major issues to be addressed include cuts to social services, support for higher education and either implementing a single-payer health care system or controlling costs.

“I’m very proud of my record of standing up to Gov. LePage and the Republican-controlled Legislature,” he said.

Millett is a longtime Democratic activist who feels “that leadership in Augusta is taking Maine and its citizens down the wrong path.”

Issues she would focus on as a senator include getting the economy back on track, utilizing the state’s renewable and natural resources, and ensuring that there are jobs that pay livable wages.

Millett said she also would like to see more women in the Senate.

“I’m acutely aware that 80 percent of the Senate is men,” she said. “I think women have an important voice to offer in the discussion.”

Staff Writer Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: [email protected]

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