BANGOR, Maine — Fresh off her retirement after 30 years of teaching English at Bangor High School, Tori Kornfield will now become a student of politics after being chosen as a candidate for the Maine House of Representatives.
“I said I wanted to go to senior college, so I guess this is it,” the 66-year-old Kornfield said after being elected to replace incumbent Sara Stevens as the Democrat candidate to fill Bangor’s District 17 Representative seat this fall. “I am nervous about it, but I’m also really excited about it.
“I don’t know how to speak political. I don’t even know what a palm card is,” she said.
Kornfield was one of three candidates vying to replace Stevens, who has a 2½-month-old daughter, after she decided not to run for re-election in November to concentrate on her family’s newest addition.
“When you spend time to care for a baby, you realize how precious that time is,” Stevens said. “And when you’ve spent time on the appropriations committee in Augusta five to seven days a week, 10-16 hours a day, you know something would have to give.”
Kornfield, Chelsea Prybylo and Steve Winkler were the three candidates. Kornfield won a majority of the votes cast by the 43 eligible voters, who had to be registered Democrats living in District 17 and attendees of at least one of the last six Bangor Democrat party monthly meetings.
Kornfield, who has two daughters and three grandchildren with husband, Irv, a teacher at the University of Maine, said it has been a quick turnaround from veteran teacher to rookie political candidate.
“One day I got a message on my machine asking me to come to an informational meeting to possibly replace Sara in District 17,” said Kornfield, who admitted she isn’t exactly a political junkie. “I’ve considered myself a good Democrat and always voted.
“After I retired, I promised myself that whatever door opened, I’d give it a real chance and not just pass it over.”
The vote was conducted at the Sunday evening at the Democratic campaign office at 205 Exchange St. by secret ballot and voting totals were not announced.
“Ten years ago, I was one of two candidates at a meeting just like this, only I lost and there were just four eligible voters,” Stevens said.
Stevens was a student at Bangor High School while Kornfield was teaching, but was not one of her students.
An early version of this story requires correction. Sara Stevens recently had a baby. She is not currently pregnant.