CALAIS, Maine — Paul Cavanaugh, who has been an attorney with the Hancock and Washington counties District Attorney’s Office for more than 20 years, announced that he is running as a candidate for the office of District Attorney for the two counties.
Hancock and Washington counties current District Attorney, Carletta “Dee” Bassano, announced earlier this year that she does not plan to seek
Cavanaugh, who has spent two decades living in Calais, has successfully prosecuted thousands of cases in his role as first assistant district attorney under Bassano and before that Michael Povich. Cavanaugh was born in 1964 to Paul and Sally Cavanaugh.
The candidate’s mother, Sally, taught school, including a few years at the Maine Youth Center in South Portland. Cavanaugh’s late father, Paul, was the first paramedic in the state. For years, the family traveled the state as the candidate’s father helped establish paramedic ambulance services in Maine.
“We lived in 21 homes before I turned 18,” the candidate said, in a press release. Paul has a younger brother Bill who lives in Pennsylvania with
his wife and two children.
For a time the family lived in Raymond and Cavanaugh reflected on how being nurtured by a community in a small town has had a major impact on his life. When the family moved to Westbrook where Cavanaugh started high school, the first assistant district attorney noted how that experience exposed him to living in a Maine city. Cavanaugh graduated from Skowhegan High School 30 years ago.
“Coming of age in mid Maine was a lot of fun and sent me into the world with confidence and determination,” he said.
But there also were some tough times growing up. At one point the family had to go on state aid. “I’ll never forget the
mixed reaction of my parents. The discomfort my father felt having to accept state aid and the comfort it brought my mother knowing her boys would be fed,” Cavanaugh reflected.
Then another change occurred. His parents divorced and Cavanaugh admitted that during those tumultuous
years he made some mistakes growing up. “I fixed those mistakes and worked my way through college and law school. I have worked since the summer I turned 15. I embody the values of a hard working thrifty Mainer,” he said.
As a high school student, Cavanaugh trained to be an EMT. “I volunteered and worked for ambulance services for years making life and death
decisions,” he said.
Cavanaugh attended college at the University of Maine and was graduated in 1987. The year before he graduated from UMaine he was invited to try out for the U.S. National Men’s Field Hockey team with a chance to compete in the Olympics the following year. He traveled to California to
compete, but the USA team did not qualify. “My Olympic dream was over,” he said.
The first assistant DA decided he wanted to be an attorney and enrolled in Vermont Law School in 1988. He graduated from there in 1991, receiving his Juris Doctorate. Although it has been several decades since he graduated from college, Cavanaugh, like so many Americans, continues to pay off his college student loans.
The first assistant district attorney married fellow college student, Diane Wood in June 1988 before they moved to Vermont for law school. Diane
grew up in Bar Harbor. Her father, Donald Wood was the long-time director of the Town Band. Mr. Wood recently started spending winters in
South Carolina with his daughter Donna and her family, but still lives in the house his father built in that seaside community. The Cavanaughs
have four children Sean, Ryan, Meaghan and Katie.
In 2001 Diane Cavanaugh was diagnosed with breast cancer and after a formidable battle with the disease, she died in 2006. “I was so touched
by how the communities of Washington and Hancock counties came together to support Diane and my family. It was the very best of community life in Maine,” he said. Cavanaugh assumed the role of father, mother, friend and confidant to his children while holding down a 60-hour a week job in the DA’s office.
Cavanaugh’s oldest son, Sean, graduated from UMaine in 2013 and teaches second grade in Princeton. His second oldest is Ryan, who is in his
third year at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), but leaves in February for a semester in Australia. The first assistant DA’s oldest
daughter, Meaghan, just finished her first semester at UMaine and is looking forward to her spring semester. Cavanaugh’s youngest daughter
Katie is a freshman at Calais High School. “They are great kids and I am so proud of them,” Cavanaugh said. In addition to his college loans, he is
helping his children fund their college educations.
Reflecting on his life, Cavanaugh said, “I have known and lost true love. I have watched my father’s health deteriorate to the point of needing assisted living and then nursing home care before he died. I’ve seen huge medical bills and appreciated medical insurance. I am a single parent
trying to provide financially, spiritually and emotionally for four children,” he said in the press release.
It is those life experiences, he said, that has helped him not only in his role as a prosecutor, but in his role as an advocate for
the disenfranchised, like women and children. In addition to his home life and job, Cavanaugh has been a scout leader and coach. He was a Deacon in his church. He is president of the St. Croix Recreation Association and was a past Volunteer of the Year for the City of Calais.
A Republican, Cavanaugh notes that he has not run for office before — at any level. If elected, he plans to divide his time between both Hancock
and Washington counties so that he will be more accessible to his constituents. “I seek the District Attorney’s office to continue to provide public service not for personal gain or to further a political career, but because it a job I know that I can do well. I will represent the interest of all the voters of Hancock and Washington county and I will work hard to see that the DA’s office continues to serve the interest of the people of the two counties,” he said.
Cavanaugh encourages voters to contact him through an email message to Cavanaugh.da@hotmail; or via US mail to PO Box 747, Calais, Maine
04619; or through his campaign Facebook page Cavanaugh DA.
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