Former Falmouth Town Council Chairwoman Cathy Breen on Tuesday defeated Yarmouth Town Council Chairman Steve Woods, 2,163 to 1,028, in the Democratic primary for state Senate District 25.
The district is a new one that includes Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Falmouth, Gray, Long Island, Yarmouth and part of Westbrook. Much of District 25 was previously Senate District 11, represented by Sen. Dick Woodbury, U-Yarmouth, who is not seeking re-election.
Breen, 48, grew up in Burlington, Vermont, and studied history and political science at Tufts University. She later worked in domestic violence prevention for a nonprofit group in Chicago. Her first government experience came as a member of the Park District Board in Chicago’s Oak Park suburb. She served two terms on the Falmouth Town Council from 2005-2011.
In her campaign, Breen called for reform of the University of Maine, investment in renewable energy, and increased support for mental health services.
“I think my experience as a consensus builder and my willingness to listen and my approach to the campaign – going out to voters, doing doors, meeting voters one-to-one and listening to their concerns – I think voters really appreciate that sort of personal interaction with candidates,” Breen said.
“They appreciate it when candidates come to them and ask them what matters to them.”
Breen ran as a clean-election candidate under Maine law, with her campaign funded largely by the state and a minimum of private donations. During the campaign, she drew attention to the differences in financing between her and Woods, a marketing executive who funded his campaign by himself.
“I think running as a clean-election candidate is a really important value that a lot of Democrats share,” Breen said after the election. “And the fact that I was outspent six-to-one, and won so decisively, speaks a lot to how much people respect the clean-election program and a grassroots volunteer campaign.”
William Gardiner, of Yarmouth, ran unopposed Tuesday for District 25’s Republican nomination. In recent weeks, people on both sides of the political aisle have said they expect Gardiner to withdraw from the race following the primary elections. In a news release last month, Woods said he expects Michael Cianchette, a former senior staffer for Gov. Paul LePage, to run as the Republican candidate in November’s election.
Gardiner denied repeated interview requests leading up to the primary.