AUGUSTA — The contested primary race to fill the open District 2 Kennebec County commissioner seat pits a Democratic state representative against a retired state Department of Environmental Protection employee.

At Tuesday’s deadline to file petitions for candidacy, Charlotte Warren of Hallowell and Philip Garwood of Gardiner had both submitted petitions and will appear on the June 14 primary ballot for the Democratic nomination race.

Kennebec County has three county commissioners, each representing a geographic district. District 2 encompasses Farmingdale, Fayette, Gardiner, Hallowell, Litchfield, Monmouth, Mount Vernon, Pittston, Randolph, Readfield, Vienna, Wayne, West Gardiner and Winthrop.

County commissioners oversee the county’s fiscal operations and budget that totaled $14.3 million in 2021. They also make policy decisions that affect county government and its 170 employees. The county’s budget obligations include funding departments such as the county jail, the sheriff’s office, emergency management and registers of probate and deeds.

County commissioners also govern unorganized territories. In Kennebec County, the commissioners oversee Unity Township.

The salary for the position is currently $13,047; the salary of the chairman, who is elected annually, is $13,768.


Nancy Rines of Gardiner was first elected as the District 2 Kennebec County commissioner in 1982, and was the first woman elected as a commissioner in the county. She has served nearly every term since then and has declined to seek another.

Philip Garwood

Both candidates see opportunity in the $23.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds that the county is receiving from the federal government to advance efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the grants to organizations it will fund.

Garwood said he supports using the money to benefit the greatest number of people.

“How many people will benefit and what sort of needs would get met by a particular request that might or might not have any other sources of support,” he said.

At the same time, he said, it is money that can be spent once and is not suitable for projects requiring ongoing funding.

Warren said with the influx of ARPA funds and the expected settlement of opioid lawsuits, she would like to make the budgeting process for county government more transparent and involve more county residents in decisions on how that money is spent at the county level.


“I envision that involvement in the same way I have always done my work, which is to use all of the tools that I have access to invite citizens to join in,” she said. “I think many of us are working our jobs, raising our children, paying our bills, and unless something is put in front of us, it’s tough to keep track of everything. I see it as the role of the entity itself to provide opportunities for people to be involved.”

She said she sees the role of government is to provide opportunities to be involved. When she was mayor in Hallowell, the city’s website was redesigned and a newsletter was launched that still continues today.

Charlotte Warren

“As a communications consultant, I do that for other entities, and I would love to do that as well for county government,” she said.

Both candidates say they don’t see the need for proposing changes if elected.

Garwood said his history of involvement with a lot of things is to form an opinion about what’s going on and look for ways to improve.

“There’s nothing that I am aware of that I think is wrong,” he said. “I like to take the point of view that someone like me who has never been involved can ask the ‘dumb’ questions and maybe that will lead to a worthwhile reevaluation of how things are done.”


Warren said people don’t talk very much about county government because it is doing so much right, and she wants to continue that trend. She has worked with county commissioners both as a municipal official and a state official.

“I have always been proud of Kennebec County, and I want to continue that tradition,” she said.

Garwood has not run for elective office before, but agreed to when members of the county Democratic Committee asked him to run.

Before he retired, he was active in the Maine Service Employees Union, which is affiliated with the Service Employees International union, as a delegate to the annual convention for many years, and as chapter vice president and president. For three terms, he served on the union’s statewide board of directors.

While the departments in county government and the union are different, he said the tasks for a board member and a county commissioner are very similar in concept — overseeing department activities and approving the budget, for example.

He said he’s been involved in a number of activities in both his personal and professional lives that have been targeted at improving things and making things better, from improvements to his home to serving as Scoutmaster for 5 1/2 years for the Boy Scouts of America, an organization dedicated to developing future leaders. At his church, he worked to improve and provide facilities to hold better programs.


Warren, who is currently serving as a state representative in District 84, representing Hallowell, Manchester and West Gardiner, and has served as a city councilor and mayor in Hallowell, said she has a great deal of budget experience that she can use as a county official.

As the House chairwoman of the Maine State Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, she and her Senate co-chair have overseen the budgets of the departments of Public Safety, Corrections, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

A bill she has sponsored to stabilize county jail funding receives a bipartisan unanimous vote in the Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday, following stakeholder meetings  to craft an agreement that could gain the approval of the committee.

While the process is not complete, she said, it moves the solution to a chronic funding shortfall along, increasing the requested appropriation from $12 million to $20 million and putting that funding request on the same footing as any other request under the commissioner of the Department of Corrections.

“That meant staying at the table even when it was difficult, it meant lots and lots of meetings, and a lot of listening,” she said. “Those are my skills. That’s what I like about government work. I like listening, bringing people together and trying to solve issues.”

The winner of this primary race will face off in November against Republican Joseph Pietroski Jr. of Winthrop, who has no primary opponent.

The deadline for petitions for nonparty candidates to appear on the November ballot is June 1.

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