AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s Senate majority leader is resigning his seat to oversee the U.S. Small Business Administration’s New England region.
Sen. Seth Goodall, a Democrat from Richmond, confirmed for the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday that he will resign his seat to take the job of the SBA’s New England administrator, which oversees SBA programs and state offices in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The job is a direct presidential appointment.
Goodall said he would be sworn in and begin his new job following the completion of the current legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn on June 19. The New England administrator is based out of the SBA’s Boston office.
Goodall has focused on economic development and small-business issues during his time in the Senate. He is currently co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future and is a member of the Joint Select Committee on Regulatory Fairness and Reform.
“Small business is something critical to Maine’s economy and the New England economy and to have the opportunity to continue my work is something that I wanted to take advantage of and I’m very fortunate to be considered and appointed by the president and the administrator,” Goodall said on Tuesday morning, referring to SBA Administrator Karen Mills, a resident of Brunswick.
U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree nominated Goodall for the post in April 2012 after Jeanne Hulit, the previous New England administrator, was promoted in February 2012 to become the SBA’s associate administrator of the Office of Capital Access in Washington, D.C. Hulit is a Mainer and prior to her SBA role was a senior vice president for commercial lending at Citizens Bank.
Typically, a Mainer has filled the regional SBA position due to the leadership of former Sen. Olympia Snowe on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which oversees the SBA. Past New England administrators include former Secretary of State Charlie Summers; the late Jeffrey Butland, a former president of the Maine Senate; former gubernatorial candidate Pat McGowan and Sen. Susan Collins, who President George H. W. Bush appointed to the role in 1992.
Goodall said his experience as a small-business owner (he started a landscaping business as a teenager with his brother, who still operates Goodall Landscaping in Topsham), a lawyer who represents small businesses (Goodall is a partner in the Augusta law firm of Dyer Goodall) and as a legislator who works on policy issues affecting small business every day will serve him well in the new role.
“Having that comprehensive skill set will hopefully put me in good position to serve the region well,” he said.
Goodall said that resigning his seat a year early — he would be up for re-election in 2014 — will not be a detriment to the issues he’s currently advocating for in the Legislature.
“I work very hard to build relationships and advocate for positions and I’m very confident that there will be no detriment to me leaving in regards to the issues pending in front of the Legislature,” he said.
A special election will be held to fill his empty seat, the date of which will be chosen by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, according to Ericka Dodge, spokeswoman for the Senate Democrats.
Goodall was elected to his first term in the Maine Senate in 2008. He represents all of Sagadahoc County and the town of Dresden in Lincoln County. Prior to his election to the Senate, he served as a selectman in his hometown of Richmond.
It’s a separate decision, up to the Senate Democrats, as to when they will elect a new majority leader, Dodge said.
Goodall said he would also leave his law practice to focus his full attention on his new role at the SBA.
“As an attorney and public servant, Seth has worked with small businesses in the New England region throughout his career,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said in a statement released Tuesday morning. “I am pleased that, as Region I Administrator, he will be able to draw on his experiences as a small-business owner, as well as his expertise garnered from extensive experience in the public and private sectors, to help entrepreneurs across the region start, grow and succeed.”
Michaud and Pingree both issued statements Tuesday morning in response to Goodall’s appointment.
“Seth Goodall’s leadership skills and small-business experience make him an excellent choice to be the next Regional SBA Administrator,” Michaud said in a statement. “His experience starting, financing, and growing a business position him well to fight for our entrepreneurs. He’s been in their shoes and he knows what it takes to get them to the next level.”
“Seth is just what we need at the SBA,” Pingree said in her statement. “He knows what it’s like to have to meet payroll, raise capital and grow a business. The SBA can play an important role in helping small businesses and I’m confident Seth will be able to put those resources to work in New England. I can’t think of a better person for this job.”
The SBA is an independent agency created in 1953 to help small businesses get started, stay in business and grow.