Eloise Vitelli is back on the campaign trail, announcing her bid for the Democratic nomination for Maine Senate District 23, which includes Sagadahoc County and Dresden, in a kickoff event at the Bath Freight Shed Alliance on Saturday, Jan. 16.
The location was the perfect spot to announce her candidacy, Vitelli said, because the community effort to rehabilitate the building embodies the values she intends to bring to the Legislature.
“It really represents a community-wide, collaborative effort to preserve our past and to build a brighter future,” Vitelli said of the freight shed.
Vitelli, of Arrowsic, has previously served in the Legislature. In a special election following Sen. Seth Goodall’s resignation in 2013, Vitelli won his seat. She achieved a perfect voting record for the second session of the 126th Legislature.
In the 2014 election, however, Vitelli was defeated by Linda Baker, R-Topsham, in a three-way race that included Green Party candidate Alice Knapp. Vitelli is again on the campaign trail in an effort to reclaim a Senate seat.
“I feel that I have more work to do,” Vitelli said. “There’s a lot that I would like to contribute.”
Vitelli grew up in a large family. As one of five siblings, she grew up learning she was responsible for taking care of others as well as herself, she said.
“I want to make a difference for the state,” Vitelli said. “We need voices that are positive and progressive. We need people willing to reach across all divides and to the other side of the aisle. That’s what I want to bring to the State House.”
For the past 35 years, Vitelli has worked for New Ventures Maine, previously known as the Maine Center for Women, Work, and Community. As the director of programs and policy development, Vitelli has overseen programs that support small businesses, help people build their careers, and help people manage their money.
Vitelli created the organization’s small-business development training and has helped approximately 4,000 businesses form over the past 20 years, she said.
Economic growth is a major issue for Maine and one Vitelli intends to tackle if elected to the Senate, she said. Continuing to advance access to health care and education, preserving the environment, and promoting renewable energy sources, such as solar energy, are also issues Vitelli intends to address.
“Education, jobs, health care, the environment. There’s nothing new in that mix,” Vitelli said. “I think for the Legislature, the challenge is how do we come together to make a difference in all of our lives.”
Vitelli is an advocate for solar energy and is also in favor of raising the minimum wage, she said. “We need to invest in our people,” Vitelli said. “That’s our primary resource.”
Despite a snowstorm, many turned out to the Bath Freight Shed Alliance on Jan. 16 to hear Vitelli announce her candidacy. The atmosphere was energized, Vitelli said.
Currently, Vitelli is the only Democrat to announce a bid for District 23.
Baker is also seeking re-election in 2016. Baker, a former public school teacher, is the Senate chair of the Marine Resources Committee and a member of the Insurance and Financial Services Committee.
Baker sponsored the recently enacted An Act to Penalize Legislators for Excessive Absences, which will cut legislators’ salaries if they have too many unexcused absences.
In addition to her 31 years in education, Baker served on the Topsham Finance Committee and served for three years on the Topsham Board of Selectmen.