Dennis Damon to Run for State Senate
By Anne Porter

Dennis Damon

staff photo by don radovich

TRENTON—County Commissioner Dennis Damon would like to be your state senator.

The 2002 election may seem a long way away, but Hancock County’s political parties are already lining up their candidates.

The coming election will be more important than most, because half of the county’s 10 state legislators are serving their last terms under Maine’s term limit law. They include District 5 Senator Jill Goldthwait.

Goldthwait, a popular independent representing most of coastal Hancock County, has had a virtual lock on her district for four terms.

With her departure, the seat is open and speculation about contenders is rampant. Damon is the first to formally declare his candidacy.

"I’ve given it a lot of thought," he said, "I think I have a perspective of a more encompassing commitment to Hancock County than is just afforded a commissioner."

Damon is in his third term as a county commissioner. In that role, he also has served on a number of other boards that affect the county, including the Maine State Ferry Service Advisory Board, the Brewer-Calais Rail Service Study Commission, the Maine Jobs Council and the state Intergovernmental Task Force, which looked at the interaction between different levels of government in the state.

That interaction is one of the issues that moved him to run for the Senate. The way the state does business generates more friction than necessary among state, county and local governments, Damon said.

"The state requires that the county do certain things," Damon said, "yet doesn’t pay the bill, and the only way we can get that bill paid is by reaching into the municipal coffers.... Will it ever go away? No. But to have a perspective of what those actions mean in Augusta as they sift down to the county level and again to the municipal level, that’s something I understand."

Education is another issue that is important to Damon, who has a degree in education from the University of Maine in Orono. Education is important in its own right, Damon said, but also for its contribution to economic development, which depends on an educated work force. He said he supported Governor Angus King’s proposal to provide laptops to students and was disappointed when the Legislature used some of the money for other purposes.

Damon also follows fishing issues closely. He said more safeguards are necessary to be sure stocks are not overfished. Regulators often do not pay enough attention to fishermen’s viewpoints, he said, and stock depletion is often caused by natural causes such as increased predation.

"I’ve come from a family of fishermen," he said. "My father was a fisherman, my brothers were fishermen—it was only because of my father’s urging that I broke the mold."

Damon taught for about 15 years, then founded two businesses, Mount Desert Spring Water and Norumbega Moving and Storage. He now has a property management business.

He lives in Trenton with his wife, Bonnie, and three children. He was raised in Northeast Harbor and has lived in this area all his life.

A Democrat, Damon may face a challenge in the primary. Representative Ed Povich, D-Ellsworth, who is term-limited in the House, also is considering a run for the Senate seat.

"It’s on my mind," Povich said. He said he would talk the matter over with his family and make a decision early next year. "I think the answer will be yes."

No Republican has yet come forward.



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