By J.W. Oliver
The race to represent Lincoln County in the Maine Senate will likely be a rematch of a 2012 race so close a recount was necessary.
Leslie T. “Les” Fossel, R-Alna, is running for his party’s nomination to challenge Sen. Christopher K. “Chris” Johnson, D-Somerville, for the seat.
Johnson defeated Fossel by just 171 votes of the 21,715 cast to successfully defend his seat in 2012.
Now, Johnson and Fossel will face off for the right to represent the new Senate District 13. District 13 includes all of Lincoln County except Dresden, the Kennebec County town of Windsor and the Knox County town of Washington.
The boundaries of the new District 13 are a small change from the present Senate District 20, which includes all the same towns and one more, the Knox County town of Friendship.
Alna Republican Les Fossel is running for his party’s nomination as a candidate for the new Maine Senate District 13. Fossel would challenge Sen. Chris Johnson, D-Somerville. (File photo courtesy Les Fossel)
Fossel has run for the seat four times without a win, although three of the four races were close enough to warrant recounts.
He lost to Chris Hall, D-Bristol, in the 2002 general election; Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro, in the 2004 Republican primary; Dow again in the Republican primary prior to a special election in 2012, and Johnson in the 2012 general election.
Johnson has run for his current seat three times. He ran against then-Sen. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, in 2010. Trahan won in a landslide, with Johnson garnering just 32 percent of the vote in the three-way race.
Trahan resigned Dec. 31, 2011 to take a position as executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
State Sen. Chris Johnson, D-Somerville, stands on Main Street in Damariscotta Oct. 26, 2012. Johnson could face Alna Republican Les Fossel in a rematch of a close 2012 race. (J.W. Oliver photo, LCN file)
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Johnson ran again in the February 2012 special election to replace Trahan, winning 54 percent of the vote to defeat Dow and return the seat to Democrats for the first time since Dow defeated Hall in 2004.
Johnson is the Senate chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Marine Resources. He also sits on the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs and the Joint Standing Committee on Government Oversight.
He represents Somerville on the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission and the Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit board of directors.
Johnson is a graduate of Bangor High School and the University of Maine. He lives in Somerville with his wife, Valarie Johnson, the vice chairwoman of the Lincoln County Democratic Committee. The couple has two adult daughters.
Fossel, as a state representative, was the chairman of the Legislature’s moderate caucus. He sat on the Government Oversight, Health and Human Services, and Judiciary committees.
Fossel has a long record of public service. He has been active in Alna government as a selectman, assistant fire chief and member of the planning board and the school board. He currently sits on the Committee for Alna History.
Like Johnson, he sits on the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission, which he serves as treasurer.
He is the president of the nonprofit Friends of DaPonte String Quartet, the treasurer of Deck House School Inc., a private school for teenage boys in Edgecomb; and the treasurer of The Wiscasset and Quebec Railroad Company. He sits on the boards of several nonprofits and is a member of several committees with various areas of focus.
He owns a small business, Restoration Resources, which specializes in the restoration of historic buildings. The business grosses $1 million in annual sales and has six employees, according to Fossel.
He also instructs adult education classes and a real estate recertification course.
He lives on a farm in Alna with his wife, Merry Fossel. The couple has four adult children.
Democrats and Republicans will elect nominees in the primary election June 10. Fossel and Johnson are the only candidates for their parties’ nominations thus far.
The deadline for a candidate to file with the Maine Department of the Secretary of State in order to appear on the ballot is March 17.