Tavis Hasenfus does not have a grand political plan. There’s no notebook filled with outlines that plot a path from the Maine State House to the Blaine House across the street in Augusta. Right now, Hasenfus has no greater aspirations than to serve State House District 81 — which includes Readfield, Winthrop, and part of Monmouth — to the best of his ability in the next legislative session.

This week, Hasenfus, a Democrat, earned 3,201 votes to challenger Joseph Pietroksi’s 2,465 to win State House District 81. This is Hasenfus’ first dive into political office.

“I’ve always taken things one step at a time as they come. I don’t know where this will lead,” Hasenfus, who will turn 33 in January, said. “I wouldn’t be so vain as to think I could do that. Control the role you’re in now.”

If you followed high school sports in central Maine over the last 20 years, you might remember Hasenfus as a three-sport standout at Winthrop High School, leading the Ramblers in football, ice hockey, and baseball. After graduating high school in 2006, he guided his American Legion baseball team to the state title in 2007, and played baseball at the University of Maine for two years.

After graduating from UMaine in 2010 with a degree in philosophy, with minors in ethics, anthropology, and religion, Hasenfus went on to the University of Maine Law School, graduating in 2013. Since 2014, he’s been an attorney with the Winthrop firm Levey, Wagley, Putman, and Eccher.

Hall-Dale High School’s Ben Rowe makes the tag on Winthrop’s Tavis Hasenfus at home during a 2004 game in Farmingdale. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file photo

“If you ask any of my high school teachers, they’d tell you ‘I knew once he applied himself, he’d be successful,'” Hasenfus joked. “I wouldn’t say I was a slacker. It had to be the right subject. If I was interested, I would do as well as anybody.”

What has always held Hasenfus’ interest is his hometown of Winthrop and the surrounding area. That’s always been the right subject.

With Craig Hickman’s time in the State House ending due to term limits, Patrice Putman, a friend and partner at his firm, approached Hasenfus about running for the seat. Putman can convince Hasenfus to do anything, he said, and the idea had been on his mind, anyway. Hasenfus was in.

“I took advice from anyone who would give it. We had an awesome staff of people who have been involved with politics for years,” he said. “I wasn’t so much nervous for myself (during the campaign). I knew either way, things would be OK. I was nervous for my supporters and everyone who helped. I owed it to them to do the best I could. I didn’t want to let people down.”

Before college, Hasenfus had a passing interest in politics and civic engagement. He served as student council president at Winthrop High (where his push to hold graduation outside failed, but it was a goal worth pursuing, he said). In college, where students can be exposed to a whole new world of information, Hasenfus read works by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Junior, and that sparked an interest in justice.

Hasenfus flinches when the results of a trial are compared to wins and losses in sports.

“It’s peoples real lives. It’s real issues. Win, lose, or draw, it has real consequences,” Hasenfus said. “When I’m in a courtroom, I want what’s fair and just. It’s a very different dynamic.”

Tavis Hasenfus, a former three sport athlete at Winthrop High School, is taking a dive into the political world, recently elected to serve Maine State House District 81, representing Winthrop, Readfield and part of Monmouth. Contributed photo

Leadership is leadership, whether it’s on a ballfield or in the House chamber. While serving as a state representative will be new to Hasenfus, public servie is not. He’s the board president of Friends of Cobbossee Watershed. He’s on the board of the Winthrop Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. He has coached youth sports. Once he passed the bar, Hasenfus could have gone anywhere to practice law. He came home.

Hasenfus and his family live in Readfield. Their property abuts the Winthrop town line. He lives approximately a half-mile from where he grew up. He’s not the former jock roaming around town in a varsity jacket that no longer fits, complaining about how kids are softer than when he played and reliving glory days.

The name recognition that came with being a former Rambler helped Hasenfus’ campaign.

“I had some name recognition. Even if (constituents) don’t know me personally, they know who I am. Nobody has been like, ‘What are you doing? You’re just a football jock,'” Hasenfus said.

When his first legislative session convenes, there’s a lot of work to do. First, Hasenfus said, Maine needs to get the coronavirus under control. That means helping build back small businesses crushed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Towns need strong Main Streets back, Hasenfus said.

“How do we rebuild economic security of the people who lost it,” Hasenfus said.

Other issues high on Hasenfus’ agenda include school funding, health care, and keeping and bringing young population to Maine. Athletics helped shaped Hasenfus, but they’ll never define him.

To Hasenfus, the glory days were never on a field. The glory days are in making his home a better place for everybody, and they are ahead.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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