A two-term state representative and a well-known former chamber of commerce director are seeking to replace Sen. Justin Chenette, who is leaving office after eight years in the Maine Legislature.

Democrat Donna Bailey, who has represented Saco in the House of Representatives for the past four years, was nominated by the York County Democratic Committee in August to run for the Senate District 31 seat. Her opponent, Republican Craig Pendleton of Old Orchard Beach, is a former fisherman and chamber director who now works in public transportation.

Chenette, of Saco, withdrew from the race in August to focus on the launch of a civics education organization called the Maine Democracy Project. The Democrat had served four consecutive terms and eight years in the Maine Legislature, with two terms in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate.

Senate District 31 includes Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Limington and part of Buxton.

Donna Bailey

Bailey, who serves as House Chair of the Judiciary Committee, said her experience in Augusta makes her “uniquely qualified” to be a state senator. As a lawyer and small business owner, she also brings business and legal expertise to the table, she said.

Bailey, 59, the first in her family to attend college, said she focuses on giving a voice to seniors, students, veterans and people experiencing poverty, food insecurity and domestic violence.

“I want to help others help themselves and improve the lives of all Mainers,” she said. “I want to continue to give a voice to those who may not have a voice in Augusta.”

As she looks to return to the Legislature, Bailey said she is thinking about the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on people and the economy. It will be important to support the recovering economy and small businesses, she said, and she’d support rental assistance for small businesses that rent their space and equipment.

“I’m a big supporter of programs that infuse money into the local economy while at the same time helping people,” Bailey said, noting the need to address the growing number of Mainers experiencing food insecurity.

Craig Pendleton

Pendleton, 60, has long been interested in running for public office, but didn’t feel the time was right until this year. A former longtime Saco resident who now lives in Old Orchard Beach, he has experience in commercial fishing and has served as the executive director for the Biddeford-Saco Chamber of Commerce. He now works in public transportation.

Pendleton, who enrolled in the Republican Party to run for the Senate seat, said he has been an advocate for the fishing in industry and for businesses.

“Advocacy is in my blood,” he said. “I see us in a place where we have some major decisions to be made. I’ve always been a vision guy and I’ve always enjoyed looking ahead.”

Pendleton said he is ready to go to Augusta to work on budget struggles and focus on the impacts of the pandemic on the business world. He would also like to work on strengthening programs to get young people into the trades and encouraging people to stay in Maine or move to the state for good jobs.

“I really believe we have to give some serious consideration on how to grow the workforce,” he said.


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