Retired US Navy Captain Kenneth Sener is running in the House District 52 special election as a Republican. (Nathan Strout / The Times Record)

BATH — A Republican has entered the race to represent House District 52 in the Maine House of Representatives.

Retired US Navy Capt. Kenneth Sener announced he would be running in the April 2 special election to replace former Rep. Jennifer DeChant, D-Bath, who resigned abruptly early this month after winning a fourth term in November. Two Democrats have announced that they are running for the seat — City Councilors Mari Eosco and Sean Paulhus.

Sener, who spent 10 years active in the Navy and another 18 years in reserves, has never run for office before.

Sener was born and raised in the Panama Canal Zone, where he says he spent much of his childhood diving and fishing. His father was a civilian working for the Department of Defense there. In 1979, Sener’s father retired, and the family moved to the United States. He attended the Florida Institute of Technology and graduated with a degree in environmental technology specializing in aquaculture.

In 1982, he moved to Houston and worked as a chemist at Houston Lighting and Power before moving to Dallas after a year to return to school. Before graduating, Sener was convinced by a recruiter to join the Navy as a naval flight officer in 1984.

In August of 1986, Sener was assigned to Patrol Squadron 26 at the Brunswick Naval Air Station. During his time in Brunswick, which lasted until 1990, he was deployed three times. It was while working at the Brunswick Naval Air Station that Sener met and married his wife, Tina.

Sener was assigned to other locations after 1990, and was officially taken off of active duty in 1994.

He later received his master’s in business from the University of Texas and went into business consulting for a few years before moving back to Bath in 2000. Sener worked at Bath Iron Works as a senior project manager for about four years before taking a position as a managing consultant for IBM.

In 2012, Sener officially retired and became a stay at home dad for the final three years of his daughter’s time at Morse High School. Since then he’s filled his time renovating and repairing his 19th century home on High Street, taking care of the dog and managing his retirement funds.

“The last thing I ever wanted to do was enter public office,” said Sener, who noted that he was comfortable in retirement in Bath.

Sener said that what lead him to consider going into politics was the choice his daughters faced when they graduated: to stay in Maine or to leave the state in pursuit of more economic opportunity. They both opted to leave the state.

That’s not an uncommon choice for many young Mainers, said Sener.

“Both of my kids had to leave Maine to find opportunities to prosper,” said Sener. “It doesn’t have to be that way. There are a lot of positive things about the state of Maine and there’s a lot of great people here. And there should be a lot of great opportunities. I’d like to make sure that the chance of that continues.”

Sener said that his business background would help him pursue legislation to increase economic opportunity in Maine that will attract young people to the state and prevent young people from Maine from leaving.

“As an MBA and a fairly senior level business consultant, I see a lot of things that happen in Augusta that make people feel good but destroy opportunity,” he said.

Bath Republicans will hold their caucus to officially nominate a candidate for the special election on Monday, Feb. 18, at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion. Democrats will hold their caucus on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bath City Hall Auditorium. Indivisible Sagadahoc will be hosting a “get to know the candidates” event the day before, Monday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m. at Bath City Hall

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