AUGUSTA — For decades, Democrats had a lock on elective positions in Kennebec County, but that changed on Tuesday when two Republicans were among the county officials sworn in.

Joseph Pietroski Jr., a Republican who had run unsuccessfully for the District 2 commissioner’s seat four years ago, defeated former state Rep. Charlotte Warren, a Democrat, for the open commissioner’s seat in the November general election. That outcome broke the lock the Democrats had held on the county commission for more than three decades.

Meanwhile, Matthew Boucher, a Republican, successfully challenged Diane Wilson, a Democrat and incumbent appointed in December 2021, for the county’s register of deeds position that had been held nearly two decades by Beverly Bustin-Hatheway, a Democrat, before she retired partway through her term.

The shift in political representation for the county seats is likely due to a number of factors, according to James Melcher, a political science professor at the University of Maine at Farmington.

One reason is that voters in Maine tend to be ticket-splitters and will vote across party lines, particularly at local levels.

“I’ve known people who say, ‘I do not want to give all the keys to the car to one party; I want to have something checking them,'” Melcher said.


But in races for county office, he said, it’s also about how well known the candidate is, how successfully that person campaigns and whether there’s a strong incumbent running for reelection.

The open commissioner’s seat was the result of the decision by longtime District 2 Commissioner Nancy Rines, a Democrat, not to seek reelection.

The Kennebec County Republican Committee did not immediately respond to a request for an interview Tuesday.

Joanne Mason, chairwoman of the Kennebec County Democratic Committee, said the committee is grateful both for the service of Wilson in the county deeds office for 25 years, and for Rines’ service as county commissioner for nearly four decades.

“We are already preparing for the next election cycle finding strong Democratic candidates with experience,” Mason said, noting that recent changes made to the county committee are expected to drive more financial assistance and campaign help for candidates in local races.

Deputy Register of Deeds Gail Towns, left, and Register of Deeds Matthew Boucher watch Tuesday as Harry McKenney signs their oaths of office after the Kennebec County government’s swearing-in ceremony in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Other county officials with uncontested races were also sworn in: Thomas Doore, county treasurer;  Kathleen Ayers, register of probate; and Maeghan Maloney, Kennebec County district attorney. Gail Towns was sworn in as deputy register of deeds, and the assistant district attorneys were also sworn in.


Kennebec County is represented by three county commissioners, whose districts are determined by population. As the chief elected officials for the county, commissioners oversee the county’s fiscal operations and make policy decisions for county government.

As the District 2 commissioner, Pietroski, who lives in Winthrop, represents Farmingdale, Fayette, Gardiner, Hallowell, Litchfield, Monmouth, Mount Vernon, Pittston, Randolph, Readfield, Vienna, Wayne, West Gardiner and Winthrop.

District 3 Commissioner George Jabar II welcomed Pietroski to the commissioners at Tuesday’s ceremony.

“I look forward to continuing to do the fine work we have been doing surrounded by some great people,” Jabar said.

Pietroski said he has already spoken to as many county officials as he could, and he was likely to have a lot of questions.

Following the meeting, Pietroski said he was pleased to see efforts were being made to improve communication between county officials and the public by updating contact information for county officials, and he plans to follow that up at the next commissioners meeting by asking that county commissioners meetings and county budget meetings also be aired on Zoom.

Boucher was among the elected county officials to give updates to the commissioners. But, he said, he didn’t have much to update.

“I don’t have an update yet; today’s my first day,” said Boucher, from Oakland. “It’s really exciting to be here.”

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