Thursday, December 12, 2013
An incumbent Republican state senator representing parts of Kennebec and Somerset counties faces opposition in November from a Democrat who has been active in both local and state politics.
Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans Colleen Lachowicz, Democratic candidate a seat in the Maine State senate, center, speaks with Douglas Archibald, right, and Debra Campbell,left, at 43 Burleigh St in Waterville Thursday. Lachowicz is running for the seat in a Senate district encompassing part of Waterville, Winslow, Albion, Benton, Clinton, Detroit, Pittsfield and Unity Township.
Senate District 25: Albion, Benton, Clinton, Unity Township, Waterville, and Winslow, in Kennebec County; and Detroit and Pittsfield, in Somerset County
Colleen M. Lachowicz
Family: Husband, Ed; stepson
Political party: Democrat
Employment: Social worker and clinical supervisor, Kennebec Behavioral Health
Education: Master's degree in social work, Boston College; bachelor's degree in sociology, William Paterson College; graduate, Southern Regional High School, Manahawkin, N.J.
Political experience: Vice chairman, Kennebec County Democrats, 2009; city chairman, Waterville Democratic City Committee, 2008
Publicly financed candidate: Yes
Thomas H. Martin
Family: Single; two children
Political party: Republican
Employment: co-owner with brother, Scott, of Nitram Excavation & General Contractors Inc., Benton
Education: degree in machine tool technology, Central Maine Technical College, 1986; graduate, Lawrence High School, Fairfield, 1983.
Political experience: Senator since 2010; chairman of the Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Committee; member, Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee; member of both Benton Planning Board and Benton Budget Committee; past president of Maine Better Transportation Association; past president of American Public Works Association
Publicly financed candidate: Yes
Sen. Thomas H. Martin, 47, of Benton, and Colleen M. Lachowicz, 48, of Waterville, are vying for the Senate District 25 seat Martin has held two years.
The race drew national attention twice in a week when the state Republican Party created a website and mailed out flyers criticizing Lachowicz for engaging in a fantasy online gaming and making "crude, vicious and violent online comments," and when the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee called the race one of the key battlegrounds in legislative races across the country.
Lachowicz said she thinks Mainers see the "political stunt" as bullying and that is why there has been such an outpouring of support for her campaign since the attack.
"I've received hundreds of supportive messages," she said. "It's provided additional motivation for me and my wonderful team of volunteers to get out there and keep talking with voters about the issues that matter to them, like good jobs and education."
David Sorensen, spokesman for the Maine Republican Party, has said the attack on Lachowicz is not simply about her gaming, but about online comments she made about how she was losing productivity and being lazy at her job, which is partially funded by taxes, because she was engaging in gaming.
Martin said he had nothing to do with the flyers, did not learn until after the fact that they were being distributed and has made it clear he does not support negative advertising attacks against opponents.
"I emailed her and assured her that this attack did not come from me, and I learned in my first race you get thick skin real fast because we're a free country -- anybody can say anything they want," Martin said.
But, like Sorensen, he thinks Republicans are attacking her more for negative comments she wrote online about Gov. Paul LePage and others.
Martin does not think the attacks against Lachowicz will cause people to not vote for him, he said.
"I don't think it's going to change anybody that was going to vote for me before," he said. "I am surprised that people see me on the street and say, 'How did you come up with that information?' I say, 'I didn't. It comes from outside money.'"
Lachowicz, a social worker and clinical supervisor for Kennebec Behavioral Health, said she thinks jobs and the economy are the biggest single issue facing the state.
"I hear that, both in my work and when I knock on doors," said Lachowicz, former chairman of the Waterville City Democratic Committee and former vice chairman of Kennebec County Democratic Committee. "The people of Maine are underemployed and haven't been able to find jobs, and families are suffering because of it. I work with a lot of young people -- teens transitioning into adulthood -- and they need more opportunities. I am a big supporter of education that will prepare people for jobs, and in investing in things that will bring jobs here."
Martin, co-owner of Nitram Excavation & General Contractors Inc., said the economy and jobs are the biggest issue facing Maine and he wants to continue the work he started in the senate to help better the state.
"I think we have to keep after reforming the (business) regulations and we have to work in the education system to offer our students better opportunities when they get out of high school or college," he said. "We see it time and time again; someone goes to a four-year college and ends up taking a job that doesn't fit the criteria because there are slim pickings. I think having those opportunities and making sure education is affordable is important."
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