Wednesday, April 23, 2014
HALLOWELL -- Kennebec County Democrats chose former Winthrop Town Councilor Patrice Putman as their nominee for the Senate District 21 seat Tuesday, setting the stage for a crucial battle with incumbent Sen. Earle McCormick, R-West Gardiner.
Local Democrats will meet again at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Waterville High School to choose a nominee for the Senate District 25 seat, which includes the towns of Albion, Benton, Clinton, Unity Township, Waterville, Winslow, Detroit and Pittsfield.
"This seat is absolutely critical," said Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, D-Vassalboro. "It is critical you keep the majority in the Maine Senate."
Mitchell, who is running for governor, told about 60 Democrats gathered at Hall-Dale Elementary School that it wasn't so long ago that Democrats held a slim, 18-17 majority.
They now have a 20-15 edge -- a margin Mitchell said is important to achieve Democratic goals.
Putman, 55, replaces Rep. Nancy Smith, D-Monmouth, who dropped out of the race when she got a new job as executive director of the nonpartisan and nonprofit GrowSmart Maine.
The Senate district covers Chelsea, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hallowell, Litchfield, Manchester, Monmouth, Pittston, Randolph, West Gardiner and Winthrop. McCormick has held the seat for four years and is running for another two-year term.
Putman, who ran unopposed at the caucus and was unanimously selected as the nominee, is a nurse, lawyer and educator. She worked nine years at the state Department of Transportation and 10 years at MaineGeneral Health, and served seven years on the Winthrop Town Council. She's also been on the town's Planning Board and on its comprehensive planning committee.
She said she knows how to get things done, such as bringing a skate park to town, making the post office handicapped-accessible and working with students.
"I know how state decisions impact town budgets," she said.
She outlined three goals: good jobs, lower taxes and personal responsibility.
"I believe we need a strong safety net for those who lose their jobs," she said. "But if you can work, work."
The only question from the caucus was about her stance on gay marriage.
"I am strongly in favor of it," she said. "It is time."
Susan Cover -- 620-7015