BANGOR, Maine — Dennis Marble, a Hampden city councilor and retired director of Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, will run for state senate against Republican incumbent Andre Cushing.
On Thursday during a news conference at a Hampden restaurant, Marble officially announced plans to run as an independent for the Maine Senate seat in District 10, which includes Carmel, Corinna, Corinth, Dixmont, Etna, Exeter, Glenburn, Hampden, Hudson, Kenduskeag, Levant, Newburgh, Newport, Plymouth and Stetson.
“This state has some very serious challenges in front of it,” Marble said during an interview Wednesday. “We’re not blessed with an abundance of resources that we can afford to squander, and Maine people deserve a government that’s as functional and on point as it can be — where the focus is policy, not party, not Augusta.”
Marble said the divisiveness and gridlock of state politics prompted him to run for the seat. He ran for Hampden council for much the same reason, in hopes of helping to move the council away from political divisiveness and consternation that had held it up for years, he said.
“I think I’ve been able to show people that I can unite and work with diverse groups and bring people together,” Marble said. “And it’s really that intent that brings this campaign about.”
He’s running as an independent because he hasn’t been enrolled as a party member in more than 20 years, he said, adding that the move will allow him to stay “locked in” with constituents without getting tied up in party politics or priorities.
Marble said he’ll run as a Clean Elections candidate, in large part because he couldn’t otherwise afford to run, but also because it will allow him to reach out to average citizens for contributions.
Marble retired in September after running Bangor Area Homeless Shelter for nearly 20 years. During his tenure, he was credited with helping increase the shelter’s charitable donations by 500 percent, bolstering transitional housing opportunities and fortifying lobbying efforts to increase sensitivity for people experiencing homelessness.
Cushing, a real estate agent and home builder living in Newport, has filed paperwork with the ethics commission to run for re-election. Prior to his first election to the senate in 2012, Cushing served two terms in the Maine House of Representatives. Colleagues chose him to serve as assistant majority leader in the 127th Maine Legislature.
Cushing also served on the Hampden Town Council from 2007 to 2012, and served as deputy mayor for the last two years of those terms.
“As an elected official, I take the responsibility of serving my friends and neighbors very seriously,” Cushing said in an email. “As such, I make every effort to be thoughtful and responsive to those who have trusted me to serve them both at the local and at the state level.”
He stressed his experience in state government, including a list of more than 200 pieces of legislation he has sponsored or co-sponsored during the past three legislative sessions.
The incumbent senator will not be running as a Clean Elections candidate, saying he doesn’t support using taxpayer funding to finance campaign materials.
No Democrat has announced plans to run, although potential candidates have until March 15 to file paperwork.
There are no independents currently serving in the Maine Senate. There are four serving in the Maine House of Representatives.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.
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