Sen. Susan Deschambault of Biddeford is facing a challenge from former state Rep. Robert Daigle of Arundel as she seeks to serve a final term representing District 32.

The district, which includes Biddeford, Alfred, Arundel, Dayton, Kennebunkport and Lyman, has been represented by a Biddeford Democrat for 58 of the last 60 years.

Deschambault, 72, was first elected to the Senate in 2016 after the resignation of Sen. David Dutremble. Her swearing in ceremony was delayed by then-Gov. Paul LePage, who was upset with Democrats about a party-line committee vote.

Susan Deschambault

During her three terms in the Senate, Deschambault said, she has focused on collaborating with other lawmakers to build consensus and to come to the right decisions. She said she would like to continue to introduce bills that are responsive to her constituents, including legislation to support victims of sexual assault. She also believes it is important to support small businesses.

Deschambault said her background in municipal government gives her a better understanding of how cities and towns rely on funding from the state. Her experience in the Senate and working for the Department of Corrections also will be beneficial as lawmakers examine racial justice issues, she said.

“I’m positioned to return as chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. In light of what has happened nationally and in the state with law enforcement and corrections, I bring my experience and knowledge to that issue,” she said.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Deschambault has been fielding hours of phone calls and emails a day from people about the problems they are facing, including with unemployment compensation. She said it has been gratifying to be one of the many people connected to state government assisting people during the pandemic.

“Right now, what I’m hearing is people are tired and scared. I hear about the anxiety and stress on families,” she said. “I know how to handle those calls and help people make connections to the right people.”

Daigle, a 67-year-old military veteran, served four terms in the House from 1998 to 2006 before leaving to focus on his business, which provides consulting services on safety and environmental compliance. He said he always wanted to come back to politics and is ready to take on the challenge of covering a larger district.

“I think a Republican from Arundel can represent Biddeford well and provide insight and understanding of what it’s like in the five surrounding communities,” he said.

Robert Daigle

The most important thing happening in the Legislature will be guiding the economy back to full strength following the pandemic, Daigle said.

“The economy has to be the most important thing we address. The most urgent things are people have to get back to work, they need income and the benefits that come with a good job. Then we can start working on the other issues,” he said. “This is where my business background offers a big advantage.”

Daigle said his top three priorities are “the economy, the economy, the economy.” But he is also focused on healthcare, the environment and making Maine attractive to young people so they don’t leave.

Daigle also believes he will be able to provided needed balance among Republican lawmakers to bring them “back to the center more.” During his time as a state representative, he was part of the minority party but said he was able to build consensus.

“I found that I could influence the outcome even though I wasn’t in the majority,” he said.

Daigle decided to run for office again before the pandemic hit and he said the impact of the coronavirus in Maine has changed how he is connecting with people in the district. Mindful to maintain social distance and wear a mask, Daigle travels around the district on his scooter to talk to voters. In the past three weeks, he knocked on 1,000 doors and has met “some of the most amazing people.”


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