Senate District 19 victor to be decided Aug. 27

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TOPSHAM — Sagadahoc County is gearing up for a special election next week to decide who will fill the state Senate District 19 seat vacated by former Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond.

The three contenders are Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic, a Democrat; Daniel Stromgren, a Maine Green Independent, and Republican Paula Benoit, who held the seat before being defeated by Goodall.

Goodall left the Senate in order to accept a presidential appointment to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Senate District 19 includes Sagadahoc County and the Lincoln County town of Dresden.

The candidates will meet in a public debate at the Topsham Municipal Building, 100 Main St., from 6-8:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23. The event features a question-and-answer format, and will allow time for rebuttals.

Benoit, 58, held the Senate seat from 2006-2008. She also owned and operated the Magnolia and Baby Magnolia gift stores in downtown Bath. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, both R-Maine, have endorsed her.

Vitelli, 64, is director of program and policy at Women, Work and Community. She serves on the Maine Economic Growth Council and was president of the Midcoast Economic Development District. The Maine AFL-CIO, a federation of unions, has endorsed her, as has the Maine Education Association and Maine State Employees Union. She has also received support from U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, both D-Maine.

Stromgren, 40, is a clinical social worker and has been a member of the Maine Greens since the party’s 1994 inception. He has worked on several Green Party campaigns and on national party issues. An adoptee, he has been a longtime advocate for adoption rights.

Bath residents vote at Bath Middle School, and Topsham residents vote at the Topsham Fairgrounds Exhibition Building. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Paula Benoit

Daniel Stromgren

Eloise Vitelli

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.