With the deadline for major party candidates passing Thursday, March 15, the races for Maine House and Senate seats are finalized.

In Windham, longtime Democrat representatives Bill Diamond and Mark Bryant are term-limited and aren’t running for another office, while Republican Gary Plummer is seeking Diamond’s Senate seat. Plummer will face off in the Senate District 12 race against unenrolled candidate Martin Shuer and Democrat Reid Scher, both of Windham.

In Windham’s two House races, Democrat Jane Pringle will face off against Republican Toby Pennels for the House District 111 seat, while Republican Tom Tyler will run against Democrat Ralph Johnston for the District 110 seat, which comprises part of Gray, as well.

In Raymond, voters will see a rematch of 2010’s race in which Republican incumbent Mike McClellan defeated Democrat Jim Stephenson. Dana Desjardins, also of Raymond, may run as an unenrolled candidate. He has yet to submit paperwork, but as a non-party candidate he has until June to do so.

In Standish, another 2010 electoral rematch will see two-term incumbent Democrat Mike Shaw facing off against Republican Todd Delaney.

In Naples and Casco, Republican Rich Cebra is term-limited for the House seat representing District 101. Vying for the open seat is Republican Laurie Mondville and Democrat Kelley Simpson.

Cebra is seeking higher office and faces a primary battle in the Senate District 13 race against Oxford resident James Hamper. Also vying for that seat is Democrat Dennise Whitley.

Senate District 12

The Senate District 12 seat, held for the last eight years by Diamond, is up for grabs this year. The district comprises Windham, Raymond, Standish, Hollis, Frye Island and Casco. Three candidates have submitted the required 200 signatures to the Maine Secretary of State’s office: Martin Shuer, Reid Scher and Gary Plummer, all of Windham.

Democrat Scher, 58, of Fern Avenue, is a social worker and serves as chairman of the Cumberland County Democratic Committee. He’s married to Judith Scher and has lived in Windham for 17 years.

“We really need people in Augusta focused on the issue of working Mainers, getting Mainers back to work,” Scher said when asked what’s motivating him to run. “The last couple of years, there’s just been a huge number of distractions by the LePage administration and I just don’t see a focus on job creation or moving the state forward on the kinds of bread-and-butter issues that people are facing. So I just see myself representing average people trying to pay their bills, with two or three jobs making ends meet. It seems like we’ve gotten off track the last couple years. The last election was about jobs and the economy but I’ve seen almost nothing coming out of Augusta trying to address working people’s issues. So I want to get us back to that.”

Shuer, 57, an unenrolled candidate, owns his own photography business and is a 26-year resident of Windham. He lives on Colby Drive and is married and has two children attending Windham Middle School. Shuer has been politically active in recent years as a member of the River Road public advisory committee. He is also an assistant Scoutmaster of Windham Boy Scout Troop 805.

“I’m running for the District 12 Senate seat to become more involved in the process and I just feel it’s a sense of purpose or citizen responsibility to have a better voice in developing policy and advocating for things as a member of the community that can be better accomplished as an elected official,” Shuer said. “My M.A.I.N.E. platform, which is Maine Alliance in Need of Ethical government, is an important part of what’s motivating me. It has to do with the interest of getting more transparency and more accountability in the way our state is being governed just so we can do things more effectively.”

Plummer, 65, of Gray Road, served in the Maine House for the last four terms and is now term-limited. Prior to his House run, the retired Windham schoolteacher served on the Windham Town Council for 7 1/2 years and Cumberland County Board of Commissioners for 22 years.

“It seems like a natural progression for me having served in the House of Representatives and hopefully having mastered the learning curve up here so I’m ready to step into the Senate seat from Day 1,” Plummer said. “Also, I think it’s really important to have the continuity. And with both Bill (Diamond) and Mark (Bryant, District 110) leaving the Legislature, I think it will be invaluable to have that institutional memory to know where things have been regarding River Road and the transportation committee. So from my perspective it is valuable for me to get back there to make sure everything that has happened regarding the town of Windham continues.”

House District 110

In District 110, which represents northern and eastern parts of Windham and western Gray, Windham Democrat Ralph Johnston is running against Tom Tyler, a Republican from Windham.

Tyler, 64, of Buckfield Drive, is a lifelong North Windham resident along with wife, Sandra. They have two children. Tyler is a former Democrat who served in the Maine House in 1995 and 1996. He used to be national sales manager for Bushmaster Firearms until the firm moved out of state. Since then, Tyler has founded Hidden Brook Associates and is a manufacturer’s representative for several manufacturers in southern Maine.

Tyler said he switched parties “basically due to the support structure. I’m very much a moderate, conservative fiscally, but very much a moderate in the way I think in regards to how life should be. And I just think it’s time we need some conservative action, more than we’re getting in Augusta. Stuff’s got to be paid for. Part of Maine’s Constitution says we can’t run in the red. We’re not Uncle Sam. We can’t have deficit financing. We’ve got to get our house in order.”

Johnston, 91, lives on Cottage Road along Highland Lake in Windham. He served on the Windham School Committee for six years in the late 1960s and early ’70s. He serves in official roles for the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in Windham and is a longtime volunteer lake monitor.

Johnston said he is in good health and, if elected, plans to stay in Augusta during the weekly sessions to avoid excessive driving. And, like Tyler, Johnston has switched parties in the recent past.

“The Republicans have gone way too far to the right. The conservatives and Tea Party have taken them over. I left the Republicans six years ago when they nominated a real conservative candidate and I went to the Democrats and have been very happy since because the Republicans have gone even further right since then,” Johnston said.

Asked why he wanted to run, Johnston said, “Mark Bryant is termed out, and I went to the Democrat caucus a couple Sundays ago and they encouraged me to do that and I was excited about it.”

House District 111

District 111, which represents much of Windham and has been filled by Plummer for the last eight years, will be contested by Republican Toby Pennels and Democrat Jane Pringle.

Pringle, 66, of Windham Center Road, has lived in Windham since 1979, is married to husband James, and is a semi-retired general internist physician at Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital. Her run for District 111 is her first foray into politics.

“I’m very disturbed by the current conversation in politics,” Pringle said. “I’ve always thought we could always come together no matter what side of a question and focus on shared outcomes and find solutions. And I really feel frustrated with the level of civics knowledge and our values in the United States, and I feel strongly that we need to understand what we were founded on and how we look for our common needs and how we come together and help make them happen. I’m concerned the conversation is dividing us. And I hear derogatory comments about people who work or don’t work, or who leeches on the system. I work with a lot of working people who work really hard to make it in their life. And we don’t give them a very fair shake with the systems we have here.”

Pennels, who will be listed on the ballot by his given name, Stuart Pennels, retired last spring from the U.S. Army as a colonel and lives in the home he grew up in on Ward Road. He has three children with wife Brenda. Pennels has served on the Windham School Board since 2003 and is also a member of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club. The Iraq War veteran is a stockbroker and owns Penn Investment Services.

“It’s always been something I considered doing but I was not interested in doing it until my military career finished up,” said Pennels on his motivations for running. “One of the things I’m near and dear and close to are schools, and the money issues are obviously a big part of the schools and I’m incredibly intimate with that part of the budget process. It’s been frustrating at the local level and I think that’s something I’d like to engage in at the state level, which could come back and help Windham for sure. I’m all about reducing budgets, and my issue is that the state keeps decreasing its funding to us but at the same time I haven’t noticed any decrease in the amount of taxes they’re taking from the Windham constituents.”

(Coming next week: The rest of the local races.)


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