HARPSWELL — Joyce “Jay” McCreight on Monday accepted the Democratic nomination to represent District 51 in the Maine House of Representatives.

McCreight replaces Rep. Jeremy Saxton, D-Harpswell, who announced after running unopposed in last month’s primary that he would not seek re-election in November. McCreight was nominated at a party caucus of about 40 people at the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust on Harpswell Neck Road.

District 51 includes Harpswell, West Bath and part of Brunswick. 

A career social worker, McCreight has worked in Maine for more than 30 years. She specialized in counseling and advocacy for children before retiring in 2013.

She spent much of her career working in South Portland schools, and lived in Cape Elizabeth and Portland before moving to Harpswell six years ago, she said. 

McCreight said she has been an advocate for women’s reproductive rights and Medicaid expansion in Maine. She has served as chairwoman of the Harpswell Democratic Committee and as treasurer for Saxton’s 2012 House campaign.

Her candidacy is “a continuation of the same kind of work, but in a different forum,” McCreight said.

This is her first campaign for elected office. She has a son and grandson who live in Brunswick, and a daughter and three grandchildren who live in Massachusetts. 

If elected, McCreight said she would aim to expand Medicaid and access to family planning services, and would prefer to serve on the Marine Resources, Education or Health and Human Services committees.

Republican candidate Byron Watson, of Brunswick, said in a written statement Tuesday he was surprised Democrats chose a candidate with “extreme views and only tangential connections to our communities.”

He said he plans to make education and driving economic growth in the Brunswick area the focus of his campaign, and is “the only candidate who will reach across the aisle to make economic prosperity a reality.”

Both Watson and McCreight are Maine Clean Elections-qualified candidates.

McCreight said she expects a challenging campaign, especially since she had to wait until Monday’s caucus to announce her candidacy.

“I expect to work very hard,” she said. “I want to knock on as many doors as I possibly can. I want to personally do everything I can do to hear what people have to say and develop a plan around what their needs are.”

Peter L. McGuire can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @mcguiremidcoast.

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