Jean-Marie Caterina of Scarborough and Drew Gattine of Westbrook are vying in a June 14 primary for the Democratic slot in the House District 126 race in November.

The winner will face Republican Leslie Smith of Saco in the Nov. 8 election. House District 126 encompasses the northern part of Saco, north and west sections of Scarborough and part of Westbrook.

The candidates spoke with the American Journal/Forecaster about their priorities, including addressing the shortage of affordable housing in the area.



Caterina, 66, would like to see more affordable housing in her town, and said she has championed that as a member of the Scarborough Town Council.

“I’ve been pushing for the last year developing workforce housing in the area, particularly in Scarborough,” said Caterina, who is the owner and president of the Caterina MacLean Group. “As a broker, I specialize with first-time homebuyers and I can’t get them into anything in this market right now.”


Younger residents are particularly impacted by the lack of affordable housing, she said.

Young folks in particular who are my daughter’s age, my daughter is 31, they are right now living in substandard apartments that they don’t need to be in but are paying a fortune for,” she said. 

The shortage also causes problems for employers, she added.

Caterina was Maine’s assistant labor commissioner for legislative affairs in the 1980s. With a degree in social work, she started out working in human resources, then taught at public and private schools and was a child protective social worker for Maine Department of Health and Human Services. She also has previously run for elected office at the state level.

Those experiences and her work now in real estate makes her a strong candidate for the Legislature, where she would work to increase housing stock for working-class Mainers, Caterina said. She would advocate at not only the state level for more housing, but would also push for federal funding to address housing and homelessness. Scarborough, for example, is looking into using federal funds to help relieve strains on hotels that temporarily house homeless people, she said.

“There is a federal and state obligation to be funding programming … because right now it is falling on the local municipalities,” she said. “We do need help, more help from the state and the federal government. Mental health services are lacking, severely, and substance abuse services are the same.”


Her connections in Augusta will help her work across party lines, Caterina said.

“I have relationships with a lot of the players and members in Augusta already; that’s so important,” she said. “You have to look beyond their ideology and their blustering in some cases, to be frank, and you accomplish more when you try to work across the table.”



Gattine, 59, served in the state House of Representatives for eight years until he was termed out in 2020. He wants to return, he said, in part to ensure that the state budget continues to fully fund schools at 55% as it is legally obligated to do.

Last year was the first time in over 20 years that the state met its legal obligation, Gattine said, and he helped push the previous budgets in that direction.

As a representative, Gattine was chairperson of the Budget and Appropriations Committee.


“My priority was to make sure people had the services they needed,” Gattine said in an interview. “I always had a strong focus on health care, making sure people had access to medicine and older people and people with disabilities had what they needed to stay in their homes.”

Gattine said he would continue to focus on making sure seniors and schools are taken care of in the budget and would also work to keep property taxes low.

“Historically, Augusta was not meeting those obligations, so when negotiating these budgets I focused on that and those budgets received more than they had before,” he said.

Gattine said one of the major concerns he hears about when campaigning is affordable housing, and he supports tax incentives for developers of affordable housing.

“The role of state government is to work with local communities to put policies in place to encourage affordable housing,” Gattine said. “In the Legislature, I championed pushing over the senior housing bond, and to create a fund of tax credits for affordable housing.

The state “needs to do more,” he said, and “a lot of that is going to be based on some of the things you saw happening this year, like making sure we are encouraging local zoning policies that increase inventory of affordable housing.”


Gattine is currently the chairperson of the Maine Democratic Party. He served on the Westbrook City Council from 2004-2010, and got his start in public service as an assistant state attorney general in 1992.

His experience will help him get things done at the state level, he said.

“I also want to focus on the other things I mentioned, too, like making sure property taxes stay low, or to make sure working people have money to pay utilities. These are part of the big picture in terms of housing,” Gattine said.

Primary voting will be held June 14.

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