SETH BERRY

SETH BERRY

BOWDOINHAM

Former House Majority Leader Democrat Seth Berry of Bowdoinham has announced he is running for House District 55.

Incumbent Republican Brian Hobart of Bowdoinham will run against Berry in his bid for a second consecutive term in the House representing Bowdoin, Bowdoinham and most of Richmond.

Berry, 47, was first elected to represent the district in 2006 and served four consecutive terms until 2014 when he was ineligible to run due to term limits that prevent legislators from serving more than four consecutive terms.

Berry grew up in Bowdoinham and taught in public schools for nearly 20 years in East Harlem, New York and then locally in School Administrative District 75. He has worked at Kennebec River Biosciences in Richmond as Vice President since 2011.

“I didn’t necessarily expect to be running again so soon, but it was really a combination of things: Both people calling and asking and encouraging me to run and also a real sense that I need to do it,” Berry said Wednesday. “I’m concerned about the direction of our state. I’m concerned about having someone working in Augusta who will represent the folks that can’t afford lobbyists up there — whether it’s small children, small businesses or the middle class, lower income senior citizens — and the list goes on. I think there’s a lot of great people in Augusta but the Legislature is very closely split right now and we really need more voices in Augusta who will stand up for the underdog.”

“Our safety nets and ladders of opportunity have been weakened,” Berry stated in his candidacy announcement last week. “Wages are low. Augusta keeps giving big income tax breaks to the big guys, and paying for it by stiffing schools and towns. This jacks up property taxes, which are regressive, so people who have less pay more. This hurts young families, struggling seniors, and small businesses. Maine has huge potential. With a level playing field we will have stronger competition and a stronger economy.”

In addition to his tenure as Majority Leader, he has served as Majority Whip of the Maine House. Berry has served on or chaired legislative committees ranging from taxation to workforce to energy and technology issues. Given his experience and broad background knowledge, he wants to be involved in taxation, appropriations and budget, education and energy, utilities and technology committees.

Berry said he is focused on clean energy, supporting small businesses and education. He continues to be very invested in early childhood development and the need for Maine to look out for young children. There are only about 32 children born a day in Maine, which is facing a drain of young people.

“Every one of those kids is really, really valuable and by supporting young families when they’re just starting out, we can make a real difference for them and for all of us down the road. It’s an incredible return on investment, both human and economic, so that’s a big one for me,” he said.

The Legislature is very closely divided, Berry said, particularly in the House. The governor’s agenda has been very different from the course he’d like to see the state chart for itself. He wants law makers listening to Maine voters regarding Land for Maine’s Future, renewable energy and general spending priorities, income tax benefits for the wealthy and largely out of state corporations rather than supporting our schools and reducing property taxes.

“These are areas where in the next two years, depending on who is sitting in those seats and voting — pressing the green button or the red button in the House or Senate — we could see our state go in a much more radical direction, where the governor would like to take us,” he said. “Or we could see more of a balance and … try to work together across the aisle and find areas where we can agree to keep the state moving forward.”

“I love the three towns that I’ve had the privilege of serving for eight years,” Berry said. “I’m just really looking forward to getting out, talking to folks, catching up with my neighbors and hearing what’s on their minds.”

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