BANGOR, Maine — Public service, whether as a Penobscot County commissioner or a state legislator, is “always about the people” for Stephen S. Stanley.
Stanley, 59, of Medway was elected Nov. 6 to represent House District 10. A Democrat, he beat his Republican opponent, Debbi J. Perkins of Millinocket, 59 percent to 41 percent.
He won the open seat held by Herbert E. Clark, D-Millinocket, who could not run for re-election due to term limits.
A mill worker, Stanley was sworn in Wednesday by Gov. Paul LePage. He decided earlier this year that he wanted to return to the Legislature after eight years of representing the residents of northern Penobscot County as a commissioner.
Before becoming a commissioner, Stanley served in the state House of Representatives from 1996 to 2002, then was elected to the Senate in 2002.
“I lost that seat after redistricting when as an incumbent I had to run against another incumbent in 2004,” he said Nov. 27 at his last county commissioners’ meeting, held at the Historic Penobscot County Courthouse on Hammond Street in Bangor.
In December 2004, Stanley was appointed a Penobscot County commissioner by Gov. John Baldacci to fill the unexpired term of Commissioner Dick Blanchard of Old Town, who had been elected to the Legislature the previous November.
Stanley was elected to the four-year position in 2006 and again in 2010. He represented every municipality and unorganized territory in Penobscot County from Orono to the Aroostook and Washington county lines.
“I’m really going to miss the people in this building,” Stanley said after that last meeting. “I’ve learned a lot here. I’m going to take that to Augusta with me. I hope we can make some changes, make the counties a little bit more than they have been.”
Stanley said he would like to see county government have a bit more power and be able to take some burdens off municipalities by performing services such as tax assessing.
“I come from an area that needs some help economically,” he said when asked why he decided to run for the Legislature again. “I can’t really provide it through the county, but I can through the Legislature, hopefully.”
Stanley’s work on behalf of Penobscot County was praised by his fellow commissioners, Peter Baldacci of Bangor and Tom Davis of Kenduskeag.
“You have truly represented the people of your district very well,” said Baldacci, a Democrat who represents Bangor, Brewer, Clifton, Eddington, Holden, Veazie and Eddington. “The door’s always open. You’re always welcome.”
“Bring some money when you come,” Davis, a Republican, said jokingly.
Davis, who represents parts of the rest of Penobscot County, later said that one of the reasons that he and his Democratic colleagues got along so well is they “left politics out of it.”
“We always put politics aside and tried to do what was best for the county,” said Davis, a dairy farmer known for his frugality.
Ronald Green, who has been an investigator with the Penobscot County district attorney’s office for 42 years, stopped by the Nov. 27 meeting to say goodbye to Stanley.
“I started here in January of 1971,” he said to Stanley. “I’ve seen a lot of commissioners in that time. I’ve been glad to see a lot of them come and I’ve been glad to see some of them go. But I have always appreciated the calm, quiet way you’ve had of approaching the work of the county.”
Under Maine law, the governor must appoint someone from the northern part of the county to replace Stanley, but that individual must be enrolled in the same political party to which Stanley belongs.
The Penobscot County Democratic Committee is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Bangor Public Library to nominate a replacement for Stanley. The name of that person will be sent to LePage, who will make the appointment.