2 Bath councilors hope to succeed DeChant in Maine House

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BATH — Two city councilors announced their candidacies in state House District 52, four days after the resignation of Rep. Jennifer DeChant, D-Bath.

Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco and Vice Chairman Sean Paulhus on Monday said they plan to seek the Democratic nomination for the vacant seat.

DeChant resigned Feb. 1 after taking a job in the private sector.

A special election to fill the vacancy could be held April 2. It will be held along with a special election to fill the City Council seat left vacant by the Jan. 29 death of Councilor Bernie Wyman.

DeChant was first elected to the House in 2012. She won a fourth term last November, and would have been termed out in 2020. Her replacement will finish out that term.

She now works for Charter Communications, a telecommunications and media company that owns Spectrum. She is the company’s manager of government affairs and community relations for the northeast region, which is based in Portland.

The job makes continuing to fulfill her responsibilities in Augusta impossible, DeChant said, since she is required to travel to upstate New York and New Hampshire.

“I can’t schedule trips there and back in one day and then be in session (in Augusta) the next day,” DeChant said.

In a prepared statement Jan. 31, she said “this has been an extremely difficult decision to consider. As with many Maine families, I have been faced with the challenge of balancing family and professional life. This decision to pursue this opportunity is what is best for my family at this point.”

“I remain deeply grateful for the support of the people of Bath who made this experience one to treasure,” she added. “While I remain committed to public service, right now it is time to focus on this transition.”

In an interview Monday, DeChant said representing Bath allowed her “to know a lot about the city, and how state issues impact the city. … I found a lot of reward in just learning about issues.”

DeChant said she will continue to be involved in public service. “This is not the last time I’m going to run for office,” she said.

Although she stepped down as executive director of the Chocolate Church Arts Center in November, DeChant continues to serve on its board of directors, and remains involved with grant-funded projects and advising until a permanent replacement is hired.

Hats in the ring

Eosco and Paulhus announced their decisions to run for DeChant’s seat Monday on Facebook.

Both of them said if elected they would remain on the council. Eosco’s term expires next year, and Paulhus’ ends in 2021.

Born and raised in Bath, Eosco was director of Main Street Bath from 2002-2006 and elected to the City Council in 2007, becoming its first-ever chairwoman in 2013.

She was interim head of Main Street Bath for nearly a year and a half until the organization hired Amanda Stanley as permanent director last month.

Eosco said DeChant’s departure prompted Bath residents to contact her about running. She thought about it over the weekend, and Monday morning the lifelong independent registered as a Democrat at City Hall.

“If I want to be effective,” Eosco said, “it sounds like at this point the way to do that is to be in a party.”

Eosco’s stepfather, Art Mayo, served in the House and Senate from 1994-2006. Her great-grandfather, Frank Farrington, was speaker of the House and president of the Senate during his 1916-1924 stint in Augusta.

Paulhus, a lifelong Democrat, lives in a house that has been in his family for six generations. He was elected to the council in 2008 at the age of 22, and became vice chairman three years ago.

“Working for both the Senate and House as aide to the secretary of the Senate and sergeant at arms I have developed relationships and gained experience that will allow me to start representing our beautiful city and its people on day one,” he said on Facebook Monday evening.

Now an aide to the state auditor, Paulhus in 2011 successfully pushed to bring about an annual day of observance for William King – Maine’s first governor, a five-decade Bath resident and one of Paulhus’ personal heroes.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Bath City Council Vice Chairman Sean Paulhus, left, and Chairwoman Mari Eosco both plan to run for the state House of Representatives seat vacated Feb. 1 by former Rep. Jennifer DeChant, D-Bath.

DeChant

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.