Bernie 2020

Mar. 1, 2020

NEWS: Twenty Maine Elected and Community Leaders Endorse Bernie Sanders for President 

20 current and former Maine elected officials and community leaders announce endorsement of Sen. Sanders ahead of Super Tuesday, as polls show Sanders in the lead

WASHINGTON — In the lead up to Super Tuesday, Sen. Sanders’ support in Maine continues to grow. On Sunday, 20 current and former Maine elected officials and community leaders announced their support for Sen. Sanders. In total, Sen. Sanders has received the backing of nearly 20 current elected officials across the state. The announcement comes ahead of Maine’s March 3 primary election, and follows recent polling in the state that shows Sen. Sanders leading the race. In their endorsements, the elected officials cited Sen. Sanders’ agenda for working and middle-class families.

State Representative Ben Collings, longtime supporter of Sen. Sanders and Bernie 2020 Maine State Director, said, “Mainers are backing Bernie because he has an agenda that works for working people, and an unprecedented grassroots movement here and across the country. I’m proud to join together with leaders from across the great state of Maine to unite behind Bernie.”

This slate follows other recent endorsements in the state from State Senator Troy Jackson, State Representative Rachel Talbot Ross, and Lewiston City Council Member Safiyh Khalid.

The current and former Maine elected officials and community leaders announcing their endorsement of Sen. Sanders today include:

  • State Senator Justin Chenette (Saco, ME)
  • State Senator Ben Chipman (Portland, ME
  • State Senator David Miramant (Camden,  ME)
  • State Representative Scott Cuddy (Winterport, ME)
  • State Representative Chris Kessler (South Portland, ME)
  • State Representative Genevieve McDonald (Stonington, ME)
  • State Representative Joseph Perry (Bangor, ME)
  • State Representative Deane Rykerson (Kittery, ME
  • State Representative Mike Sylvester (Portland, ME)
  • Councilor Pious Ali (Portland, ME)
  • Councilor April Caricchio (South Portland, ME)
  • Councilor Deqa Dhalac (South Portland, ME)
  • School Board Chair Roberto Rodriguez (Portland, ME)
  • School Board Member Teresa Gillis (Brunswick, ME)
  • School Committee Member Marwa Hassanien (Bangor, ME)
  • Former State Senator Mark Dion (Portland, ME)
  • Former State Senator John Patrick (Rumford, ME)
  • Former State Representative Bernard “Barney” McGowan (Pittsfield, ME)
  • Former State Representative Patrick McGowan (Fayette, ME)
  • Shay Stewart-Bouley of Community Change Inc. (Peaks Island, ME)
State Senator Justin Chenette, Saco, ME (District 31)

Senator Justin Chenette is serving his 4th term in the Maine Legislature with two terms in the Senate and two terms in the House of Representatives. Chenette made history in 2012 by becoming the nation’s youngest openly gay legislator and Maine’s youngest lawmaker at age 21. He represents Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Limington, and part of Buxton in the Senate. He is currently the Chair of the bipartisan Government Oversight Committee, Co-Chair of the Democracy Reform Caucus, and is a member of both the Environment & Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Ethics Committee. Chenette also serves as a Citizen Trade Policy Commissioner.

“I value someone who consistently and authentically fights for the rest of us. Our system has fundamentally failed the middle class and is instead benefiting those rigging the rules at the very top. It's going to take a massive grassroots movement to create the kind of systemic change needed to put government on the side of the people over corporate and special interest lobbyists. Bernie Sanders is the kind of bold candidate we need right now. I’m proud to stand with him in 2020, as I did in 2016.”

State Senator Ben Chipman, Portland, ME (District 27)

Senator Ben Chipman is serving his second term in the Maine Senate, having previously served for six years in the House of Representatives. He represents Senate District 27, which consists of part of the city of Portland, including Peaks, Cliff and Great Diamond islands. A passion for environmental activism, public transportation, affordable housing and economic opportunity motivated Chipman to become active in politics during his college years. He began his career in the State House as an aide in the Office of the Clerk of the House in 2002. Later, in 2010, he was elected to his first term in the House of Representatives, where he served the people of Portland for six years. During his tenure in the House, Chipman has served on the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs and the Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources. Chipman is a lifelong Mainer and a small-business owner. He resides in the East Bayside neighborhood of Portland.

State Senator David Miramant, Camden, ME (District 12)

Senator Dave Miramant represents coastal Knox County in the Maine Senate. Attending high school in a suburb of Boston during the Vietnam War, Miramant was first introduced to the values about our society, environment and natural resources that still motivate him today. After attending the University of Maine at Farmington, he began a long career in aviation. In addition to his work in the air, Miramant also has been a small-business owner and boat captain. He was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 2006, and the Maine Senate in 2014. He lives in Camden with his wife, Dee, with whom he has two adult children, Ashley and Josh.

“I am impressed that Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised his voice for all Americans. He wants to provide everyone with access to healthcare and education, fair wages and equal treatment in all aspects of their lives. He knows that we need to protect our environment and to move toward clean, renewable energy sources in order to protect our way of life. Because of Bernie's steadfast integrity and passion for improving our lives, we have a clear choice on March 3rd and in November.”

State Representative Scott Cuddy, Winterport, ME (District 98)

Representative Scott Cuddy is serving his first term in the Maine House of Representatives. He is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor and Housing. A lifelong Winterport resident, Cuddy serves on the RSU 22 School Board, the Northeast Workforce Development Board and the Maine Center for Economic Policy Board of Directors. He has previously served on the Tri-County Workforce Investment Board and the Food and Medicine Board of Directors. Cuddy is an IBEW journeyman electrician and has previously worked as a director of digital advertising for a local design firm. Cuddy is a graduate of Hampden Academy and earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wheaton College. He completed his electrician’s apprenticeship with IBEW 1253 in 2011. Cuddy lives in Winterport with his wife, Kate, and their two sons.

“I support Bernie because he's never wavered in his fight to support working people like me. For the 20 years I've followed his political career, he's been on my side.”

State Representative Chris Kessler, South Portland, ME (District 32)

Representative Chris Kessler is serving his first term in the Maine House of Representatives. As an energy auditor, Kessler is a strong advocate for energy efficiency and renewable energy. He is a former Board Member of the Maine Association of Building Efficiency Professionals and helped to administer the City of South Portland's Low-Income Weatherization Program. A longtime resident of South Portland, Kessler is an active volunteer in the community and a strong housing rights advocate. He is the founder of the South Portland Tenants Association and was the catalyst behind the City of South Portland's first housing security ordinance. He has served as a volunteer for numerous community associations and boards. Kessler holds a Bachelor of Arts in music and is a certified energy auditor by the Building Performance Institute. He lives in South Portland with his wife and two daughters.

“One of the many reasons why I am voting for Bernie Sanders is because he has always steadfastly represented my views on social and economic justice. Time has shown that he has been on the right side of many issues, even when they were unpopular.  Some critics interpret his unwavering views as ‘not being a team player.’ I call it courage. That is the kind of character that has inspired me and millions of working-class people to engage in our democracy. That is what we need to win this election and move this country forward.”

State Representative Genevieve McDonald, Stonington, ME (District 134)

Representative Genevieve McDonald is serving her first term in the Maine House. McDonald, a graduate of the University of Maine, is a commercial fisherman in Stonington. She serves as the Downeast Region Representative on the Maine Lobster Advisory Council, holds a seat on the Maine Commercial Fishing Safety Council, and is a member of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Lobster Forecast Advisory Panel. The issues that are most important to McDonald are building Maine’s rural economy, successfully managing Maine’s marine resources, assuring the best possible education for our children and ensuring all Mainers have access to affordable health care. She resides on Deer Isle with her husband, Cory, and twin daughters, Evalina and Elise.

State Representative Joseph Perry, Bangor, ME (District 124)

Representative Joseph C. Perry is serving his fifth term in the Maine House, having previously served from 1996 to 2004. He has also served three terms in the Maine Senate and is a former Bangor City Council Member. A long-time small business owner, Perry serves on the Legislature’s Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business Committee. In the past, he served as Senate Chair of the Taxation Committee and as a member of the Banking and Insurance, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Government Oversight and Transportation committees. Perry lives in Bangor with his wife, Jane. They have two sons, Joseph and Kyle.

State Representative Deane Rykerson, Kittery, ME  (District 1)

Representative Deane Rykerson is serving his third term in the Maine House of Representatives. He is a returning member of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee and a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor and Housing. Rykerson grew up hiking and sailing in the Hudson River Valley with a mother from Ecuador and a father from Dodge City, Kansas. He attended the Boston Architectural College and earned a Bachelor’s of Architecture degree after seven years of night classes. Rykerson became active in the Boston Society of Architects, serving as a workshop organizer for its Historic Resources Committee and Chair of the Committee on the Environment. After receiving a Master of Design Studies degree at Harvard University, he started his architectural firm, Rykerson Architecture. Rykerson moved to Kittery Point in 2002 and designed a sustainable house and office where he currently works. He is married to Wendy Pomeroy, a landscape designer and artist, and has two sons, a daughter and one grandson.

“We can not survive the 21st century without a progressive president. That’s why I’m enthusiastically supporting Bernie Sanders for President.”

State Representative Mike Sylvester, Portland, ME (District 39)

Representative Mike Sylvester is in his second term in the Maine House of Representatives. He serves District 39, which includes the East End of Portland, Upper Bayside and many of the islands of Casco Bay. He lives on Peaks Island with his wife and three boys. Sylvester grew up in Lewiston and received his degree from Bard College in New York. He worked as a Labor Organizer and Representative for nearly 20 years with the state workers’ union, the teachers’ union, the Newspaper Guild and, most recently, with the Justice for Janitors local in Boston. He now owns his own seasonal business on Peaks Island. He is a founding member of the Maine Democratic Socialists of America.

“As a long time labor organizer for low wage workers, I ask one question of a candidate: Will you be there for workers? Bernie will be there for the working people of Maine and this country. His policies, from healthcare to education to labor rights, not only address our day to day concerns but were developed by Bernie alongside working people. I believe in Bernie and Bernie believes in us.”

Councilor Pious Ali, Portland, ME (At-Large)

Councilor Pious Ali serves on the Portland City Council. He has worked with the city of Portland’s refugee services and spent many summers working as a facilitator for Seeds of Peace. Ali has spent the better part of his life focused on community engagement. He has created meaningful and ongoing dialogue across cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic, and faith-based barriers.

"Public service means standing up for people when they need you most. When I look at Senator Bernie Sanders, I see someone who has never given up on people."

Councilor April Caricchio, South Portland, ME (District 4)

Councilor April Caricchio is a working-class mother of three adult children, and has a Bachelor of Science in sociology. She serves as a South Portland City Councilwoman, and is an advocate for vulnerable populations and for climate crisis action.

“I support Bernie because he understands that our current economic system is not sustainable. He proposes workable alternatives that will enhance socio-economic stability. Bernie consistently has fought to protect and support citizens and has an inclusive platform to help heal and unite our country. Most importantly we need leaders who will recognize the climate crisis and act decisively and swiftly to enact policies that address that.”

Councilor Deqa Dhalac, South Portland, ME (District 5)

Councilor Deqa Dhalac is a passionate advocate for children and families in Maine with extensive experience in social services, public health, and mental health. She is a recent graduate of the University of New England where she received her Master’s Degree in Social Work, and she also holds a Master’s Degree in Development Policy and Practice from the University of New Hampshire. Dhalac is originally from Somalia. She came to the United States in 1992 and has lived in South Portland with her three children for over ten years. She is a leader in the Somali Community Center of Maine, Board President for Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition and a Board Member for Maine Women’s Fund. Dhalac believes all of her South Portland neighbors should have the opportunity to access quality education, safe and affordable housing, and a clean environment to thrive in.

School Board Chair Roberto Rodriguez, Portland, ME

School Board Chair Roberto Rodriguez has served as an At-Large School Board member since 2016 and is the current Chair of the Portland Board of Public Education. Rodriguez and his wife are proud parents of a Lyseth Elementary School 5th grader and have been actively involved in their school community since moving to Portland in 2013. Rodriguez has worked as a Physical Therapist Assistant for over 15 years and also currently owns and operates a small business in Southern Maine providing home vegetable garden services for his clients. Rodriguez is originally from Puerto Rico and lived in Miami, Florida before relocating to Maine in 2011 with his wife and daughter. Rodriguez is proud to now call Portland his home and sought to serve on the School Board in order to be connected to his community in a deeply meaningful way while being a strong advocate for public education.

“When it comes to investing in education, supporting local agriculture, feeding hungry children in our schools and creating comprehensive criminal justice reform, the candidate I trust most on all of these issues is Bernie Sanders. We are the wealthiest nation in the world, we need to do better.”

School Board Member Teresa Gillis, Brunswick, ME (District 3)

School Board Member Teresa Gillis lives in Brunswick, Maine and is a mother of two. She is in her second term and fifth year of serving on the Brunswick School Board. She is also Co-Founder of the non-profit TEAN, started in 2016, which serves the immediate emergency needs of the homeless student population and their families in Brunswick, and she is the Grassroots Organizing Manager at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

“I want a leader like Bernie Sanders, who cares about people in his own country and the world -- who cares about them, because they are somebody, a human being, who deserves every human right.”

School Committee Member Marwa Hassanien, Bangor, ME

Recently elected to the Bangor School Committee, Marwa Hassanien, her husband, Tarek Elkadi, and their four children have called Bangor their home since 2005. Hassanien grew up in Stillwater, Oklahoma before earning her Master’s Degree in Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction from the University of Maine. She is an Adjunct Faculty member at Eastern Maine Community College, a Tutor Trainer for the Literacy Volunteers of Bangor and Education Chair of the ICM. She currently serves on the Boards of the Maine Multicultural Center and the Auxiliary of the Penobscot County Medical Society.

Former State Senator Mark Dion, Portland, ME (District 28)

Former Senator Mark Dion served from 2016 to 2018 in the Maine Senate, and from 2010 to 2016 in the Maine House of Representatives. In the House, Dion was a Co-Chair of the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, where he successfully passed legislation to fund eight pilot drug diversion programs at sheriff’s offices around the state. He has been an advocate on mental health and substance abuse policy, community correction practices and inter-agency partnerships involving public health and safety. In 2013, the Maine chapter of the National Association of Social Workers honored Dion as Legislator of the Year, recognizing his longtime advocacy on behalf of jail inmates in need of mental health services. Dion is a practicing attorney in Portland, was sheriff of Cumberland County for 12 years and was an officer in the Portland Police Department for 21 years. He lives in Portland with his wife, Cheryl. They have two adult daughters.

Former State Senator John Patrick, Rumford, ME (District 14)

Former Senator John L. Patrick of Rumford served three terms in the Maine Senate and four terms in the Maine House of Representatives, where he was the Chair of the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee. Patrick was also Chairman of the Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission from 2004 to 2008. Patrick has been a journeyman mechanic for the Catalyst Paper Company in Rumford for the past 35 years, and is a former President of the United Paperworkers Union Local 900. Patrick is a member and past president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie #1248 and a member of the Rumford Lodge of Elks #862. A 1972 graduate of Mexico High School and lifelong resident of the River Valley, Patrick has been married to Claire M. Coulombe for 38 years and has three adult children and two grandchildren.

Former State Representative Bernard “Barney” McGowan, Pittsfield, ME (District 29)

Former Representative Bernard McGowan served in the Maine House of Representatives from 2000 to 2004. While serving in the House, he championed fair tax reform. Rep. McGowan has been involved in the business world and he and his wife, Ann, have 5 children.

Former State Representative Patrick McGowan, Fayette, ME (District 2)

Former Representative Patrick McGowan is a Pittsfield, Maine native. He began his political career with his election in 1980 to the Maine House of Representatives where he served for ten years. He ran as the Democratic nominee for Maine's 2nd congressional district seat in 1990 and 1992. He then served in the Clinton administration as the New England regional administrator of the Small Business Administration. McGowan served as the Maine Commissioner of Conservation from 2003-2010.

“I was born during the depression from a family of eleven kids. I served in the Air Force and started four different successful small businesses. Bernie is the only hope to get America back on track. We always talked to our Canadian customers in our business and asked them about their healthcare system. It costs less and does more for the people of their country. Wouldn't that be nice to do for our people in the U.S. for a change?"

Community Change Inc.’s Shay Stewart-Bouley, Peaks Island, ME

Shay Stewart-Bouley is a working-class Chicago native and woman of color. Her career since 1997 has focused on weaving these intersections into her daily life and professional work. Since the mid-1990s, Stewart-Bouley has worked in the non-profit sector, during the earlier years working primarily with marginalized groups, and in the later years focusing on non-profit administration working both as an Executive Director at a small faith-based non-profit in Southern Maine and as a non-profit consultant and grant-writer to other organizations. In the early 2000s, Stewart-Bouley moved from her native Chicago to Maine and, as a Black woman living in one of the least diverse spaces in the United States, found herself writing regularly about race relations, social justice, and white supremacy. Stewart-Bouley is the creator and founder of the award-winning blog Black Girl in Maine, where race is a major theme.

“Our healthcare system is inaccessible to the majority of Americans, regardless of income level. I am supporting Bernie because now more than ever, we need Medicare For All.”

Organizations listed for identification purposes, and do not imply institutional endorsement.