It’s not every day that a candidate for elected office admits that he previously voted for his opponent.

But that’s the case in the race for state Senate District 19, in which incumbent Democrat Seth Goodall, of Richmond, faces a challenge from Republican Jeff Pierce, of Dresden.

Goodall, 34, has served two straight terms as the senator for District 19, which includes Richmond, Dresden, Arrowsic, Bath, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Topsham, West Bath, Woolwich and the unorganized township of Perkins.

Pierce, 50, said he voted for Goodall when he first ran for the Senate seat. Pierce said he decided to run this year because he thinks he could do a better job representing the district’s people.

“I like Seth. It’s nothing personal; he’s a nice guy. I’m a nice guy, too,” said Pierce, chairman of the Dresden Planning Board. “I’m running because I felt we weren’t being represented. I feel I bring a lot more of the concerns of the average person in this district than my opponent. He doesn’t work in this community. He votes the straight party line. I work in the communities I want to serve. If it’s a good idea, I don’t think it matters which party came up with it.”

Goodall, who before being elected to the Legislature served on the Richmond Board of Selectmen, including one year as chairman, said he has worked closely with members of both parties and struck compromises on major issues including regulatory reform and the state budget.

“My efforts to lead Democrats on issues such as L.D. 1 regulatory reform and working toward compromise and supporting budgets when Republicans have been in control shows I don’t just vote the party line,” said Goodall, who was on the Environment and Natural Resources, and Regulatory Fairness and Reform committees. “Clearly I have a record and reputation of working across the aisle to find common ground.”

Goodall, an attorney and former owner of a landscaping business, said he has a track record of helping the people of the district and bringing people together to solve problems, to move Maine forward.

“I believe my experience of growing up in the district, starting a successful small business, and representing my hometown of Richmond and as a state senator the last two terms puts me in a strong position to be an advocate for the people of Sagadahoc County and Dresden,” Goodall said. “I think a critical difference is I have a proven track record, as both a selectman and state senator, of working to improve our district. That experience is something that differentiates the two of us, and that’s important.”

Pierce, a graduate of Cony High School in Augusta, said he’s gained experience in his small business, Jeffrey Pierce Restorations and Renovations. In addition, as executive director of the Alewife Harvesters of Maine, he has fought federal regulations he said would have closed fishing for alewives in Maine.

“I’ve managed to stay in business in Maine all these years. I must be doing something right,” he said. “My business has done well. It’s time for me to give back to the community. There are some common sense things we can do to get Maine back on track.”

He said businesses are stifled by Maine’s high electricity costs, heating costs, and workers’ compensation costs — issues he said must be addressed for the state to attract good businesses and jobs.

Pierce said the state should bring workers’ compensation regulations in line with other states where costs are much cheaper, remove a 100-megawatt cap on the amount of hydroelectric power which can be produced by a dam to lower electricity costs and change regulations to encourage natural gas providers to bring the fuel to more of Maine to reduce heating costs.

“Those are issues that need to be addressed if we’re going to do anything to bring businesses to Maine,” Pierce said. “The sign at the border that says ‘Maine, the Way Life Should Be’ is a lie. We’re at the high end in costs, and the low end at the other end of the spectrum. We’re 48th in education. That’s not how life should be. We need to refine what we’ve got and encourage people to come here.”

Goodall, who graduated from Richmond High School and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Connecticut and a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law, said the biggest issue facing the state is growing the economy so people have greater economic security and better opportunities for good paying jobs. He said one way to help do that is to focus the educational system in the state so people can get the skills they need to be successful.

“We need to really focus on workforce training in our educational system, to make sure we have a top-notch system that gives individuals the skills they need for the jobs of today, and tomorrow,” Goodall said. “And we also need to make sure we’re working with the small businesses and downtowns in our communities to see these businesses grow. Because small business is what has led the country and Maine out of downturns in the past, and will lead Maine to a stronger future.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]