Drew Gattine, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, and Jean-Marie Caterina, a Scarborough town councilor, are competing for the Democratic nomination for the House District 126 seat, representing parts of Westbrook, Scarborough and Saco.

Gattine, who was not eligible to run for re-election to the House in 2020 because of term limits, said that his experience will allow him to hit the ground running, saying it can take years to learn how to influence the legislative process. He’s also working to re-elect Gov. Janet Mills and protect Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

“I am incredibly hardworking as a candidate and a public servant and I have great experience,” said Gattine, of Westbrook. “I have delivered results for these communities already and I hope people will realize that when they’re deciding who to vote for.”

Caterina, who is serving her third term on the town council, said that experience, as well as her professional experience as a real estate broker, former assistant labor commissioner and member of the Maine Municipal Association’s Policy Committee, gives her unique insight into the issues of her community and the relationships to work with representatives from both parties.

“I have built a lot of relationships on both sides of the isle,” said Caterina, of Scarborough. “I feel I understand the needs of Scarborough and north Saco folks. Frankly, that’s why someone should vote for me because I know what the issues are. I live them.”

The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 14, but absentee voting is already underway.


The winner will face Leslie Smith Jr., of Saco, in November. Smith is unopposed in the Republican primary.


Gattine is looking to return to the Legislature, after being terming out of the House in 2020 following eight years of service. He previously served as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee and the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, which negotiates the budget and decides which bills get funding.

Drew Gattine

During that time, Gattine, 59, said he helped secure more funding for public education and expand Medicaid in the state, while ensuring municipalities receive fair state funding through revenue sharing, which returns a portion of sales and income taxes back to communities.

“I feel real passion for the work,” he said. “People have mixed feeling about term limits. It takes awhile for you to learn how to be effective in Augusta and then you term out.”

Health care and budget issues continue to motivate his desire to serve, he said, as well as tackling climate change and protecting democracy, which he said has been under attack primarily by Donald Trump and his supporters, who falsely claim the 2020 presidential election was stolen and plagued with widespread voter fraud, though there is not evidence supporting those claims.


He would like to ensure the state is following through on its Maine Won’t Wait climate action plan, especially efforts to conserve energy use and conserve land.

“We have set some very ambitious goals and I’m grateful the governor has made this a focus,” he said. “To meet those goals we need to be in a position to move those forward.”

Democrats made progress on addressing the housing crisis by passing a bill sponsored by House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, that loosened zoning restrictions throughout the state and freed up resources to help communities create more housing-friendly policies. That came after the state finally issued voter-approved bonds for senior housing that were held up by former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who is challenging Mills this fall.

Gattine, a lawyer, health policy consultant and a former assistant attorney general, said the state needs to continue moving forward on these issues, especially affordable housing.

“As an individual legislator you go up there no matter what the circumstances are and do the best you can,” he said. “I don’t want to go back to those (LePage) days and I’m going to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.”



Although she’s a Democrat, Caterina, 66, said in a news release announcing her candidacy that she has “a fiercely independent streak.” In an interview, she said she is a straightforward person, but she’s not a “my way or the highway” kind of person, or one to use fighting rhetoric. Instead, she focuses on collaboration.

Jean-Marie Caterina

“Everyone needs to be working together,” she said. “We need to be working across the table and across differences, even if it’s within your own party, to find out what are the best solutions for the people you serve.”

Caterina is serving her third term on the Scarborough Town Council. Prior to starting her own real estate business, she had worked as an assistant labor commissioner of legislative affairs from 1985-88, a human resource professional, taught in both public and private school settings, and worked as a child protective social worker for the state. She ran unsuccessfully for the House in 2012 and for the Senate in 2016.

She said her experience as a real estate broker will allow her to work on practical solutions to the housing shortage. She has worked with the Scarborough Town Council to begin addressing the lack of middle-income housing for those who make too much money to qualify for subsidized housing but too little to afford market-rate housing.

However, the MMA Policy Committee, on which she has served since 2013, opposed Fecteau’s housing bill, which included all of the recommendations from a special study committee, including a statewide appeals board that could overturn local project denials and eliminate growth caps, like those in Scarborough.

“It’s a great bill,” she said. “I absolutely get it. You shoot for the moon and see what you can get. From a municipal point of view, it was a bit too broad.”

She’d like to continue discussions about some of the original proposals in Fecteau’s bill. And she would like to see the state provide more financial incentives for developers working on middle-income housing to help offset high construction costs.

“Let’s keep the conversation going,” she said.

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