Democrat Joe Rafferty of Kennebunk has announced he is in the running for Maine Senate District 34. Courtesy Photo

KENNEBUNK – Joseph “Joe” Rafferty is a name pretty much everyone in Kennebunk and the surrounding area knows. Recently retired from teaching physical education at Kennebunk High School, he remains the KHS Rams football coach. He’s just finished up his 41st season and is looking forward to his 42nd.

He’s doing a little bus driving, and a little substitute teaching – and a week ago he announced he is running for the Maine Senate.

Democrat Rafferty is looking to represent District 34 in the Senate, which includes Kennebunk, Wells, Acton, Lebanon, North Berwick, and part of Berwick.

His first task this campaign season is to get out into the towns that make up the far-flung district – to meet people and hear what is on their minds, he said in a recent interview.

“The most important thing for me is to get into those communities and find out what their major issues and concerns are,” he said. “I like to believe my strength is in talking to people, listening and developing my best strategies to work for them.”

Senate District 34 is an open seat. The current senator who represents the district, Republican Robert Foley, is not seeking re-election. Republican Michael Pardue, who is also Kennebunk’s Town Manager, announced his candidacy in January.

Rafferty, 64, grew up with five siblings. His website lists his father’s work in a tannery and later for the U.S. Postal Service, and his mother was a homemaker before taking a job in a school cafeteria.

He was the first in his family to graduate from college. A Massachusetts native, Rafferty came to Kennebunk in 1978 to teach and to coach – and stayed. Married to Norma Nordone, also a teacher, the couple has three grown daughters, all who live outside Maine.

“I’ve spent my entire career working to help others in various capacities, the obvious being in my roles as a teacher and coach,” said Rafferty. ” But beyond those positions, my goal has always been to develop my students and players into the “whole person.” This was a lesson I learned from my parents growing up and was one instilled throughout my education at Springfield College. As a result, I’ve tried to serve as a mentor for the young people in our community. I’ve also worked in the state and local teacher associations as an advocate for teachers and education because I believe our schools are important pillars for our districts.”

He said health care needs to be more affordable for all Maine families. He said he wants to create jobs that offer Maine people and families the opportunity to earn a living wage and pointed out that means working to provide equal rights and opportunity for everyone.

“These goals emphasize the need for us to work together in our towns and state to develop new pathways to success, especially for young people to stay in Maine to live and work,” he said.

Rafferty said his passion has always been in education and improving the community. He said he’s aware of the impact of education on taxpayers and families – he said, and his wife have been through the student loan process with their children.

Rafferty plans to run as a Clean Elections candidate.

“Getting elected will be very challenging,” said Rafferty. ” Serving the people and communities of District 34 will be very rewarding.”

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