SACO – Former Senator Justin Chenette has been endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a national organization dedicated to electing pro-equality & LGBTQ+ leaders to office.
“LGBTQ Victory Fund is pleased to endorse Justin Chenette for County Commissioner,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “Justin will bring a unique and important perspective to the county commission and ensure all residents are considered when policy decisions are made. He will also make history when elected, becoming the first out LGBTQ person to ever serve on the York County Commission.”
SACO – Two national progressive organizations, Building Bridges for America and Roadmap for Progress, have endorsed former Senator Justin Chenette for county commissioner.
Building Bridges for America is an active nationwide all-volunteer grassroots group that mobilizes and empowers networks of relational organizers equipped to support campaigns and causes based in progressive values. Roadmap for Progress has a mission to promote fairness, boldness, and unity in American politics by helping to elect a diverse field of progressive candidates who embody these values.
“Our goal is to put the ‘Action’ in political action organization by putting in volunteer time with any candidate that we endorse,” says Melissa Hoin, a spokesperson for the organizations. “Justin embodies the values that we hold, and we're excited to help him campaign in every way possible.”
This endorsement adds to the growing coalition of support around Chenette’s campaign including Saco Representative Lynn Copeland, State Treasurer Henry Beck, former Senators Linda Valentino & Linda Sanborn, former OOB Representative Jerry Plante, MSAD #6 School Board Member Kelley Heath, and former County Commissioner Dan Cabral.
“We have the energy, enthusiasm, and momentum heading into this Primary,” says Chenette. “This national attention on our race shows the importance of making county government a priority to better serve our area.”
Chenette is running in the Democratic Primary set for June 14th and previously served 8 years in the legislature.
Signed. Sealed. Delivered. We made it to the ballot!
Not only are we the first candidate to qualify for the ballot in our race, but we turned in 73 signatures from every corner of our district: Saco, OOB, Hollis and Buxton!
This continues to show the energy and enthusiasm for our campaign. We have the clear momentum heading into the June Primary and are building a winning coalition of support.
Over the next few months, we will demonstrate why we need a change on the county commission and why we are best positioned to deliver results if selected as our Democratic nominee on June 14th.
Thank you to everyone who signed our petitions for county commissioner and attended our signature gathering events.
SACO - Former State Senator Justin Chenette, of Saco, has announced he is running for a seat on the York County Commission in next year’s election.
“I’m running to be your next county commissioner to fight every single day for a more accessible, transparent, and accountable government -- just like I’ve done in the legislature,” says Chenette. “We should expect more from our elected officials than just the bare minimum; They should be accountable to you.”
One of the biggest issues Chenette sees is the lack of engagement and awareness of what is happening with county government.
“The county commission shouldn’t be Maine’s lost level of government. Sadly, we don’t see a lot of attention paid to county government actions and that directly stems from our elected officials not engaging the public throughout the decision-making process. I’m seeking to change that with a new generation of leadership on the commission.”
Chenette plans to hold monthly office hours, attend community events, and provide frequent updates through social media, email newsletters, and newspaper columns to keep the public informed and to get direct feedback. He also wants to see commission meetings held in the evening instead of during the day to encourage greater participation.
If elected, Chenette would be the first millennial ever elected to the commission, at age 30, and would be the only commissioner who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. He previously made history as the youngest lawmaker in the country when he was first elected to the Maine House of Representatives at age 21. He served a total of 8 years in the legislature, with two terms in the House and two terms in the Senate, including a stint as chairman of the bipartisan Government Oversight Committee.
Chenette is currently the only registered candidate with the Maine Ethics Commission for the District #3 seat which includes Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Buxton, and Dayton, though the district is subject to redistricting changes. The commission term is 4 years and the Primary Election is set for next June.
To view Chenette’s full action plan, visit www.AccountableToYou.org.
Do you know what our county commission does? How about who our county commissioner is or what that person does for us on a regular basis? Sadly, I don’t think many can answer those questions easily. We don’t hear anything about what’s happening on the county level nor how we can participate in the decision-making process. This is a major problem. The County Commission shouldn’t be Maine’s lost level of government.
For County Commissioners, it seems as if the lack of awareness of what they do has translated into a lack of effort. No awareness translates into no accountability. No accountability means they can skirt by without doing much. They have a position and title for 4 years per term without term limits, getting paid the same as our state lawmakers, yet we don’t see or hear from them until they are up for re-election.
County Commissioners should hold monthly office hours, virtual or otherwise, to give you an opportunity for direct feedback. They should write monthly columns, providing in-depth reports on key issues and ideas. They should post on social media, record videos, and send out email newsletters explaining decisions. They should update the county website, where most of the county commissioner information is currently left blank. They should be visible and actively volunteer in the communities they serve at local events. This is public service 101. These are simple items that could be done today as a bare minimum of what they should be doing and yet it’s not happening.
So last night was illuminating. I attended both the County Commission workshop on how they plan to spend the $40 million from the Feds and the regular County Commission meeting. Seeing that no public hearing was held in our area and that there’s been limited to no promotion around the solicitation of public feedback, I figured I'd go to see what’s happening in person.
I decided to address the commissioners during Public Comment to mention some of my concerns around the need for greater accessibility for meeting times and transparency. I mentioned how difficult it is for working Mainers to make 3:30PM or even 4:30PM meetings not to mention the public hearings held even earlier in day over the summer. I also mentioned some ideas like County Commissioners holding virtual forums to get direct constituent input.
Instead of just taking my constructive feedback, one by one the commissioners decided to make excuses and even berate me from the dais. It was incredibly inappropriate and very sad to see. The fact that the County Commission doesn’t even think there is a problem with awareness and participation, is in fact the problem. They don’t see how the structure of county government is keeping people from engaging in the process.
I was literally told if working Mainers want to attend their meetings, they should take off time from work to be there. Period. No sympathy. No willingness to consider alternatives. Excuses included comparing themselves to the state legislature. They have day meetings, so we must as well. Keep in mind County Commissioners meet generally twice a month just like municipal government and can set the meeting times whenever they want. Having served 8 years there, they aren’t the legislature. I was also told issues like government transparency and accessibility aren’t real issues, just noise. Aside from inaccessible meeting times, no wonder no one goes to the meetings to give comments. What’s the point of providing public comment if you aren’t going to listen to the public? They just ignored one of their constituents very publicly.
One positive from the night, I was able to get them to at least acknowledge the current lawsuit pending against the county for a lack of disclosure of public records by a media organization. I’ve been raising the alarm about this for a month and half since the news broke and all I’ve wanted was County Commissioners to put out a statement that they are looking into the matter. It’s been crickets up until last night when my comments finally broke through and we got a response. It shouldn’t take a former legislator publicly calling them out for our County Commissioners to keep us informed and recognize the seriousness of not dealing with public records requests.
This whole experience has left me with a sour taste in mouth. The arrogant, status quo attitude gives me a firm desire to demand change. The lack of public awareness of what’s happening in county government has clearly given County Commissioners a blank check with no accountability and subsequently created major complacency. We deserve better.
Some big questions: Why is York County government shielding access to public records? Why are reporters having to sue to get access to those public records? And where are our county commissioners on this? This is why I'm so upset about this recent transparency scandal facing our county.
This is deeply troubling. Every county commissioner should be outraged and provide oversight to prevent this from happening. Reporters should not have to sue to gain access to public records. Seems like York County has a transparency problem.
As a former journalist, former chair of the Government Oversight Committee, and now a member of the Right to Know Advisory Committee, our Freedom of Access laws are meant to ensure journalists and the public know what our governmental institutions are doing. When information is shielded, it keeps us all in the dark. It makes it look like there is something to hide, even when there isn't. Unacceptable.
SACO - State Senator Justin Chenette has turned in the required signatures needed to be placed on the ballot for re-election to the Senate seat representing the communities of Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Limington, and part of Buxton. He is the first candidate in the Senate District 31 race to do so.
Chenette has served 4 consecutive terms in the legislature with 4 years in the Senate and 4 years in the House of Representatives under his belt. At 28, Chenette continues to be the youngest member of the Senate. He is the Chair of the bipartisan Government Oversight Committee, Chair of the Marijuana Advisory Commission, Co-Chair of the Democracy Reform Caucus, and is a member of the Environment & Natural Resources Committee, Senate Ethics Committee, and the Maine Climate Council's Coastal & Marine Working Group. Chenette also serves as a Citizen Trade Policy Commissioner.
“I’ve always had a personal governing philosophy that legislators need to be the peoples’ lobbyist. It is, after all, your seat not mine,” said Sen. Chenette. “After years of fighting, advocating, and persisting, I’ve finally broken through the establishment to achieve sizable progress in creating a more ethical state house.”
This past term, Chenette has championed and passed comprehensive campaign finance reform that bans lobbyist contributions to lawmakers and candidates, closes the revolving door of legislators becoming lobbyists, and ends the ability of legislators to use political action committees as personal slush funds. Aside from ethics, Chenette also passed legislation that adds water in Maine statutes as a public right, overhauls our anti-bullying laws to ensure student safety, bans offshore oil drilling, and creates added consumer protections from robocall harassment.
“It’s critical we have a Senator that not only talks about leadership, but delivers real results both at the state house and here at home,” says Sen. Chenette. “I’ve been working around the clock to ensure the Maine Turnpike Authority moves forward on the $40 million project to open up Saco’s old exit, coordinate the Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner visit to Saco to discuss how the state can be a partner in Camp Ellis erosion mitigation, and push the Department of Education to discuss additional ways to fund school construction projects like Young School.”
Chenette is in the process of getting qualified as a Clean Elections candidate, collecting only $5 contributions from 535 voters in the district by the April deadline. He is once again refusing lobbyist, corporate, PAC, and special interest contributions. If individuals would like to help out, they can visit www.KeepJustin.com.
Justin Chenette doesn’t just talk about getting involved in the community, he acts.
When Veterans from the OOB American Legion came to him about wanting to get more fellow Veterans involved in the Memorial Day parade, he jumped into action. Justin worked with town officials in Old Orchard Beach to designate this past Memorial Day as a free parking day for any and all veterans. A small token of appreciation for their dedicated service.
Last year through his nonprofit organization, Justin raised $1,500 for the establishment of a new grant to assist Veterans to take adult-education classes locally for free. The goal is to help Veterans get back into the workforce after their service. Those interested can contact the OOB Saco Adult Ed program for more information on how to qualify.
He has also spoken every year at the VA2K Walk in Saco that collects household goods for veterans most in need, marched in both the OOB and Saco Memorial Day parades, participated in the Saco Veteran’s Day Parade, and toured the Arthur B. Huot House in Saco, which is a transitional housing program for homeless vets.
In the Legislature, Justin has supported Veterans in numerous ways. Making it easier for children of Veterans to finish college and for more service members to access their benefits. As a member of the House of Representatives, Justin voted to ensure those in the Maine National Guard can go to an in-state community college or university for free. In the Senate, he has fought to expand tax breaks for more Veterans.
Join me in keeping Justin Chenette right where he needs to be, in the State Senate.
Noah Poulin, Saco
I’m supporting Justin Chenette for re-election to the state Senate because of his commitment to the community. When I think of someone who has community spirit, I think of Justin. He is proud of his community and he is always out at community events. I felt like I knew him before I actually met him, simply because I saw him so often. I like this for many reasons but an important one is that I know he is in touch with his constituents.
As president of Saco’s downtown development organization, Saco Main Street, Justin has worked to promote small businesses, organize large-scale events and help our downtown thrive. He promotes a positive image of our community to attract visitors and future businesses alike. Justin is also vice president of Friends of the OOB Ballpark, member of the Saco Bay Rotary Club, and a member of the Old Orchard Beach Chamber of Commerce.
I think we should elect a senator who devotes time and attention where it’s needed most, right here at home. I hope you join me in supporting Justin Chenette for state Senate on Nov. 6.
Lisa Petit, Saco