A two-term Democratic state representative is running against a local firefighter and paramedic to represent the Saco region in the Maine Senate.

District 31 includes Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Limington and part of Buxton. The seat is being vacated by longtime Democratic Sen. Linda Valentino.

Rep. Justin Chenette defeated former legislator Barry Hobbins in a competitive Democratic primary race in June. He is running against Timothy Sevigny, a Republican who is emphasizing his status as an outsider.

Chenette, 25, was first elected to the Maine House at age 21, making him the youngest member of the House at the time. He pushed for the Opportunity Maine tax credit to reduce student loan debt and sponsored legislation that added community service to the list of high school graduation standards. He was co-sponsor of bills to raise the minimum wage, create a cold case unit, put out a bond for affordable senior housing and make it easier for children of veterans to obtain college tuition waivers.

He said in responses to a Portland Press Herald survey that he wants to reform state government and reduce the influence of lobbyists and political contributors.

“Sadly, the reality is the special interest group and lobbyist with the largest checkbook has the most direct influence over public policy decision making,” he said.


Chenette said he supports expanded background checks for gun purchases to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and protect victims of domestic violence, but he has concerns about the wording of the referendum proposal on the state ballot and wants to come up with a better proposal.

Chenette supports the increase in Maine’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, saying corporations making record profits need to raise wages so workers can afford basic needs.

He also supports marijuana legalization to better regulate drug use and sales. “Bring it out of the shadows and use the tax revenue to benefit educational and drug prevention programs,” he said.

Chenette said he worked on legislative responses to the heroin addiction epidemic and wants to do more to get addicts into treatment and to focus on prevention efforts in schools, among other things.

Sevigny, 43, is a Republican who works as a firefighter and owns two small businesses. He said in responses to a Portland Press Herald survey that he is running because “people are tired of politicians and it’s time to break the cycle.”

Sevigny, who is a union president, said he wants to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars, attract new jobs and industry and keep taxes down. He also said he would work to reduce energy costs and to address the heroin epidemic.


Sevigny did not say whether he supports or opposes expanded background checks for private gun purchases, but said “the systems in place are working.”

He said he does not support the referendum proposal to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020 because of the potential economic impacts.

“It will create more unemployment, companies and business will reduce staff and do the same work with less employees,” he said. The proposed minimum wage increase also would cause businesses to increase the cost of consumer goods, adding to inflation, he said.

He said he supports the idea of legalizing marijuana use, but does not support the proposal on the referendum ballot this month. He said creating an open market should not be allowed to affect medical marijuana caregivers.

Sevigny said he has seen the effects of heroin and opiate addiction as a paramedic who responds to medical calls.

“When you hear from users and addicts that it’s hard to get help in this state, that’s sad,” he said. “We need more recovery/support centers, more public education and law enforcement. It’s going to take all three phases, not just one of them. We have done a real good job at the enforcement piece but feel we need to work harder on the recovery/support and public education pieces.”

Chenette and Sevigny are running as a publicly funded candidates under the Clean Election Act. Chenette raised $42,361 as of Oct. 25, according to his latest campaign finance report. Sevigny raised $25,400 as of Oct. 25, according to his last filing.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.