Drew Gattine has represented Westbrook in Augusta for the past eight years. He plans to focus now on his horses and house. Chance Viles / American Journal

WESTBROOK — After eight years representing House District 34, Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, has termed out, but he hasn’t ruled out another another legislative run in the future. Any possible campaign, though, would come after he spends some time working on his old house and riding his horses.

First elected in 2012, Gattine said his major accomplishments were stopping budget cuts proposed by then-Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, as well as increasing revenue going to schools.

Looking at his horses, outgoing Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, looks forward to some downtime on his farm. Chance Viles / American Journal

During his tenure, he led the House Health and Human Services Committee and most recently has been chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, putting him at odds with other lawmakers and politicians looking to reduce services to save money.

“My accomplishments really weren’t in a specific policy, rather stopping cuts that I thought would seriously harm not only Maine but Westbrook, too,” Gattine said. “Some of that work still isn’t done, but I am proud of what we have done.”

Gattine is happy he was among the state lawmakers over the past eight years that raised state funding of schools to cover about 50% of costs. Maine law requires the state to cover 55%.

“It was brutal at the time. We were working towards that 55% but had to stop LePage from actually cutting it down. We were really put at odds with proposed cuts to education and housing,” he said.

Gattine and his peers were successful in fighting the cuts, but not without some stinging disputes and drama. At one point he was the bullseye of LePage’s anger. The then-governor left an expletive-filled voicemail for Gattine, describing his desire to duel and shoot the legislator.

“It was an interesting time, but overall the House is very congenial. People think it is just people yelling at each other around a table, but we really worked together,” he said.

The atmosphere at the state Capitol has changed since Democratic Gov. Janet Mills took office, he said, because it “felt more like she was working with us.”

Gattine has some regrets about his time, too. He wishes he could have worked more on strengthening funding for services for the elderly and increasing mental health resources statewide, but with the pandemic impacting state spending, the focus now must be on making sure people are financially secure, he said,

“Maine’s economy is directly tied to how people are doing. Our major revenues are sales and income tax,” Gattine said.

His work as a Westbrook city councilor from 2004 to 2010 inspired him to run for state office, he said.

Democrat Morgan Rielly, son of former City Councilor Brendan Rielly, ran unopposed in the Nov. 3 election for the District 34 seat and will take the reins when Gattine’s term ends Dec. 2. He said he has “some shoes to fill.”

“He is a figure not only in Westbrook politics but in Maine and progressive politics,” Rielly said. “He is a champion for people not only in Westbrook but in the state when it comes to health care and work in Augusta.”

“I think he’s done great,” resident Brian Plourde said this week. “I remember what people thought of Westbrook years ago. It was bad, it was ugly, but I think people really pay attention and in part because he was representing us strong.”

Resident Ezra Davison wants to see the work Gattine has done for the city continue.

“I only hope our next representatives keeps us on track,” he said.

Gattine said he doesn’t plan on running for any local office, but can see himself running for the House seat again in the future.

In the meantime, he will continue in his full-time job at the National Academy for State Health Policy while working on his home.

“For now I am going to do some more farming. I got my horses, I want to ride those more. We have chickens and goats. I live in an old house. I am not handy, but I want to work on it. There will always be something for me to do” he said.

 

 

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