House District 62: Firefighter, former legislator vie in Bath

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BATH — Former legislator Robert Winglass and Michael Clarke, a firefighter, are running for the state House District 62 seat vacated last spring by Bath Democrat Thom Watson.

Watson was prevented by term limits from seeking re-election to the House. He left six months before the end of his fourth and final term to work for the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board.

Michael Clarke

Clarke, 47, is a captain and paramedic with the Bath Fire Department. A U.S. Navy veteran, he is also a member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Search and Rescue Task Force. He is married and has one son.

Clarke called the Legislature “a higher level of public service for me,” noting that he will remain with the Fire Department. He left a part-time job at L.L. Bean, where he worked in security and operations, about 18 months ago to pursue the campaign.

This is the first foray into politics for Clarke, a Democrat who also sits on the Bath Rotary Club board, the Sagadahoc County Working Group on Family Violence and the Merrymeeting Bay TRIAD committee.

State budget shortfalls are an issue of concern, Clarke said, as well as making Maine more friendly to businesses. He said he has heard from Bath residents that “it appears as though … the folks that are in Augusta are just constantly arguing with one another.”

Clarke said he would bring a new perspective and new ideas to the Statehouse. In his experience, he said, collaboration and dedication to work is important. Communication and coordination would help to alleviate the issues plaguing the state, he said.

Robert Winglass

Republican Winglass, 74, is married and has four adult children, including Bath City Councilor Andy Winglass.

He spent 35 years as a U.S. Marine before retiring in 1992 as a lieutenant general, the branch’s fourth most senior officer. Afterward he served two terms in the Maine House, representing Auburn, but then lost in a 1998 bid for the state Senate. He then served as director of IBM’s Strategic Business Relationships Team.

Winglass said the state is suffering a “financial disaster.” He said “what we really have failed to do here is to recognize and get under control the costs and expenditures that we authorize, welfare being of course the classic example. … We lead in the nation in the generosity that we display to our people who receive welfare. … We can’t afford that.”

Economy and jobs are another of Winglass’ concerns; he noted the importance of bringing industry into places like the Wing Farm Business Park. “There are great opportunities to bring people here as this economy is beginning to resurrect itself from the terrible recession we’ve experienced these past couple of years,” he said.

Winglass said his experience in the House would be useful in a return to Augusta. “I don’t have a learning curve to climb,” he said. “I already know how this thing operates. And I think I can make some things happen.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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Michael Clarke

Robert Winglass

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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.