Three candidates with divergent backgrounds are vying to be the Republican nominee for the newly configured Senate District 16 seat.

Mark Andre, Kevin Kitchin and state Rep. Mike Perkins are bidding for the seat held by state Sen. Scott Cyrway, who is unable to run again because of term limits. District residents will vote in the primary on Tuesday, June 14. The district includes Albion, Fairfield, Oakland, Waterville and Winslow.

The district was reconfigured, particularly its northern and western boundaries, following the 2020 redistricting done by the state Legislature.

Andre, 52, of Oakland, is self-employed and the owner of Angry Lobster Disc Golf in Fairfield. He ran unsuccessfully for House District 110 against Rep. Colleen Madigan, but this year moved his attention to District 16.

Andre said he plans to bring two issues to the State House that he is well known for in Waterville: voter registration and tax policy regarding colleges and universities.

Maine needs to have a process to confirm voters’ residency following an election, he said, to confirm they follow through on becoming a resident.


“It’s a declaration of residency in our state that needs to be followed up on otherwise you’re voting on taxation and other laws that will never apply to you,” Andre said.

His concern with tax policy has to do with places of higher education like Colby College that he says don’t pay enough in taxes to the cities where they’re located.

Andre contends that many people have felt a loss of liberty and freedom in the last couple of years because of COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Mark Andre Courtesy photo

He is also in favor of reducing or eliminating Maine’s income tax, as proposed by former governor and current Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage.

Kitchin, 52, of Fairfield, was in the U.S. Navy for over 30 years. Born and raised in central Maine, he moved his family back to the area in 2018 after retiring. He said he’s running, because he’s tired of unending political bickering and believes he’d be able to work across the aisle and navigate state bureaucracy to move forward with policy initiatives.

While Kitchin hasn’t run for public office in Maine, he emphasized his experience in the military and said he was looking to represent everyone in the district. He’s not running for a political career, he said, and plans to accomplish legislative goals and not just vote along party lines.


“It’s time for change and I’m not going to be worried about my political career,” Kitchin said. “And if somebody is going to vote for me, I will be the first to tell them, ‘If you are expecting (someone) to vote along party lines all the time, then I am the wrong candidate.’ Because that’s not how you have change. You have to work together to get change.”

Kevin Kitchin Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

While he has a wide platform laid out on his campaign website, he highlighted education and economic growth as key issues to tackle. He’d like to see more support for small businesses, like the creation of a task force to assist with the unique issues that come up in operating a local business. And he wants more transparency with public school operations and more trade skills brought into schools.

Perkins, 60, of Oakland, has served six terms in the state House of Representatives and last year announced he was running for Congress representing Maine’s 2nd District but dropped out after being hospitalized with COVID-19. He said he talked over the decision with his wife, who was also hospitalized, and decided he needed to refocus his political aims. So he shifted his focus to the state Senate.

Mike Perkins Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Perkins emphasized his experience as a state representative and said he’s often worked with Democratic colleagues on policy matters. He believes Maine needs harsher punishments for criminal behavior and the state needs to get rid of ranked-choice voting.

“I don’t know all the answers, but I’m going to hit the ground running,” Perkins said. “And we cannot afford to have someone looking for the bathroom and not know where to go or what to do.”

He wants to see state government spend less and invest more in long-term programs. Perkins expressed frustration that the House transportation committee, of which he is a member, pushed a bond in excess of $1 billion and then used the budget surplus to send $850 checks to residents. He would have rather seen that money go toward a longer-term plan to help people transition into industries where there is a shortage of workers, like paramedics and first responders.


All three candidates agreed that the PFAS, or “forever chemical,” contamination in the area must be a primary concern for the state. Andre said that while state drinking water standards are a good step, it is difficult to say what is a safe level to have in water because there isn’t enough research. He said some progress will come with lawsuits over the issue.

“We need to take a cautious approach moving forward in terms of allocating funds to make sure that we understand the problem fully before we go whole hog into any one particular solution,” Andre said.

Kitchin’s home has been affected by the contamination and while there is no “golden answer,” Kitchin said he’d like to see the state’s task force on the issue expanded to include people who are affected by contamination.

“I moved here when I retired from the service, and we bought 40 acres of land — I’m an outdoorsman, I enjoy hunting and spending time outside — just to find out that my land was contaminated with PFAS and I can no longer eat the deer that I have on my land.”

Perkins said state government must help people who are affected, but will need to be enterprising in finding smart solutions. He pointed out that the contamination is not just in the water, but the soil as well, and mitigation needs to address that, too.

“It’s a growing problem so right now (the state Department of Environmental Protection) takes it and pays for their water, but that money is gonna run out,” Perkins said. “So we better solve the problem soon.”

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