A Wells selectman and the president of the local Rotary club are running for the Republican nomination for the House District 7 seat, which four-term Rep. Kathleen Chase is vacating because of term limits.
Robert “Bob” Foley, a longtime selectman who has served on state committees, and Peter Leon, a volunteer firefighter and president of the Wells Rotary Club, are both active in the community.
The winner will face Democrat Joachim Howard in the general election in November. House District 7 encompasses part of Wells.
Foley, 61, was elected to the Board of Selectmen in 2009, after serving from 1992-98 and 2000-03. He previously served on multiple state committees, including one on which he helped write the state’s beach management policy and sand dunes rules.
Foley said his broad experience at the state and local levels, coupled with his experience in local government, make him a strong candidate to represent Wells in Augusta. He said he wants to “facilitate a process that is respectful and open to everyone’s thoughts.”
“As a selectman, it’s not a partisan position,” Foley said. “We work together to solve problems, and that’s what we need to do in Augusta.”
Foley said constituents often tell him that they are concerned about the economy and jobs, issues that are foremost in his mind.
“We need to get people back to work across the state. Part of the key to that is helping to reduce high energy costs and to connect rural areas to high-speed broadband Internet,” he said. “It’s vitally important we find ways to connect those people who don’t have jobs to companies looking to hire people.”
If he is elected to serve in Augusta, Foley said, he will complete his term as selectman, which is due to end in June 2015, so the town won’t have to pay for a special election.
Leon, who is involved in ministry and is a tennis instructor, has been active in the community since moving to Wells 11 years ago. A Waterboro native, Leon volunteers with the fire department and supports community causes through his work with Rotary.
Leon said he decided to run for the Legislature because he believes the community needs to be represented by someone who can energize others to be involved and engaged.
“I think it’s good to have a government that’s for the people and by the people,” he said.
As he campaigns, Leon, 61, said he often hears from people who are frustrated that things don’t seem to get done in Augusta as quickly as they should.
“There always seems to be a stalemate. I’m about action,” he said. “I would like to develop a productive team that can create positive consensus between the parties to accomplish the best for the Wells taxpayers.”
Leon said he feels strongly that Maine must make sure it is known as a state that is business-friendly, so companies will come here and create jobs.
“(Maine is) known as a wonderful place to come for tourists, but New Hampshire seems to win out because of its low taxes,” he said, adding that the state needs to emphasize Mainers’ strong work ethic and skills.
In addition to growing the economy, Leon said he is concerned about keeping taxes low and making sure there is accountability in spending taxpayers’ money. He said he would work with state transportation officials to secure funding for repairs to roads and bridges in Wells.
In 2002, Leon was acquitted of a witness-tampering charge after a trial in Washington County. He was charged because of his involvement with a case in which two teenagers, including one whom Leon was tutoring, were arrested in a vandalism spree at Calais High School. Leon said the charge was “bogus” and “the truth prevailed.”
Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: