2016-10-20 / News

Election 2016

Two vie to replace House seat that covers part of Saco

Mark Bedell Mark Bedell Printed below are the responses to our candidate survey form from candidates for State House District 15, which covers most of the western part of Saco. Mark Bedell, a Republican, will face Maggie O’Neil, a Democrat. The winner will replace Justin Chenette, a Democrat running for a senatorial seat in Saco. The Courier prints responses within each race in alphabetical order by the last name of the candidate.

Name: Mark Bedell
Age: 50
Address: 85 Watson Mill Road
Occupation: I regularly hold a wide variety of
“department head” positions in the theater, film,
documentary and television industries. A partial list
of my job descriptions is: playwright, screen writer,
producer, director, stunt coordinator, fight director,
weapons master, effects coordinator, art director, show
manager. For more details, visit www.MarkMEdistrict15.
Family: I have one son. He is almost 8 years old.
Education: Fork Union Military Academy (Virginia)
Organizations and activities (including past
political experience): 1991-1995: I was chairman of
the Children’s Theatre Division on the board of directors
of the New England Theatre Conference. I was elected
to two terms and I declined to run for a third term; 1992
and 1996: I was involved in the Ross Perot campaign;
2000: I was involved in the Harry Browne (Libertarian
candidate) campaign; 2008 to 2009: I was appointed to

Margaret O’Neil Margaret O’Neil the Maine Board of Directors of the Educational Theatre
Association. I was honored to serve on that board but I
was hardly ever in Maine at that time and did most of
my work by phone. I stepped down from my seat on the
board to make way for a more local board member; 2010
to present: I was appointed to the board of advisers for
the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame, another position
for which I am honored to serve; 2016: Delegate at the
Maine Caucus.

Top three issues:
1. The defeat of Questions 2, 3 and 4 is priority!
I’ll be voting “No” on all ballot questions. Initially, I
was for Questions 1 and 5; but I

researched them and found there to
be a lot of devil in those details. As
a documentary writer, research and
understanding complicated subjects is
something I have a lot of experience
in. Since I’ve been a candidate, I’ve
been reading and researching bills.
They are terribly written! That’s one
thing I plan to do in Augusta: use my
researching and writing experience
see that bills are written in plain
2. Maine should be more business
friendly than it has become. Yes, I’m

aware that our unemployment rate is “supposedly” low;
but that does not factor the high number of Mainers on
one form or another of welfare and those who have given
up the workforce altogether. We need more and better
jobs. That means attracting businesses with lower tax
rates and lower energy costs. It is better (more lucrative)
to have a lower percentage of a lot of businesses, than to
have a higher percentage of a dwindling few businesses.
If we make it cost effective for businesses to be here, they
will come.
3. Maine’s heroin epidemic: This is not a problem that
can be covered in 100 words. We need not just education
... but the right education, not just treatment ... but the
right treatment. Methadone and Suboxone have had
some success but often simply mask the addiction for
a short time. We need stronger enforcement, border
control ... yes ... I mean Maine’s border. At the time of this

writing, I have just begun to research the use of National
Guard drug dogs at the major entrances to Maine
from New Hampshire. Not to stop anyone. Merely to
identify vehicles which may have heroin and report that
information to state police.

Why are you seeking elected office?
If you’d told me six months ago that I’d be running for
public office, I would not have believed you. I was away
from Maine (most of the time) between 2002 and 2015.
When I returned to Maine in 2015, I was surprised to
find that Maine now has a caucus! One of many things
that changed while I was away. I wanted to get involved
as a delegate to the caucus, so I attended a York County
Republican meeting. I spoke very little but listened a lot.
About a week after that first meeting, I was contacted
by the Maine Republican Party. They asked me to run
for representative of District 15. My initial response
was “No”! But upon thinking about it (and upon Gov.
Paul LePage’s urging) I decided that my very practical
experience in a variety of research and management
positions might be just what Augusta needs. I may not
be an expert in every bill that comes up; but I have
experience writing in-depth scripts and working on
a wide range of topics: artificial gravity, passive solar
technology, the Civil War, 9/11: inside the Pentagon, the
JFK assassination, vaccinations, cooking, the Davinci
robotic surgical system ... I have had to (temporarily at
least) become an expert in all these topics and so much
more. I am an efficient and thorough researcher. I will
become an expert on every bill that comes up and be able
to relay that information to the people of Saco so we can
make an informed vote on every issue.

If you could change one thing about Saco, what
would it be and how would you do it?
I’m a native of Saco, as was my mother, grandfather,
great grandfather and countless others going back to
the 1800s (at least). My hope for Saco would be the same
hope I have for Maine. Attracting businesses with lower
taxes and lower energy costs, which brings jobs and
more taxes to the city. Graduates of Thornton Academy,
University of New England, USM, etc. – our best and
brightest, after graduation, are off to anywhere but here.
There is simply not enough industry here. The labor force
participation rate in Saco is the lowest it has been in at
least 25 years. I myself went away to continue my career.
I’m back now and ready to do my best to keep Mainers in
Maine through constitutionally conservative policies. As
for a specific issue to Saco, I drive by Young School nearly
every day. I know we can do better than a temporary
schoolhouse for 308 K-2 students in Saco. The teacher/
student ratio there has gone up, not because there are
more students, but because there are fewer teachers.
Budget dollars per-student have gone up. So why fewer
teachers? Administration is the answer. The entire Maine
school administrative system needs a complete overhaul,
streamlined and efficient as they are in Utah and Florida
and with added school choices and refusing federal
unfunded mandates. All of the above together and we
will generate the wealth needed to build that new school.
Republican, Independent or Democrat ... we all want

Name: Margaret “Maggie” O’Neil
Age: 27
Address: 21 Sheila Circle
Occupation: Hospitality; former state park ranger,
Ferry Beach, Saco
Family: Single
Education: B.A. classics and history, Dalhousie
University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Organizations and activities (including past

political experience): First run
for political office. Delegate to State
Democratic Convention in 2008 and
alternate in 2016. Volunteer on various
campaigns for the Democratic party and
Equality Maine.

Top three issues:
1. Education: A strong public education
system is crucial to facilitating the
success of our next generation. We must

continue to prepare
our students for
both college and
the workforce. A
quality education
helps students
be versatile and
adaptable for
whatever lies
ahead. I will work
to increase access
to higher education
by continuing
to invest in our

community college system and state
universities, and working to address
the issue of student debt. With massive
investment on the drawing board, Saco
schools are currently at a critical juncture.
In Augusta, I will focus on maximizing
potential state funding to reduce any
impact on Saco property tax payers.
2. Conservation: Maine’s natural
resources are our greatest asset both as
an economic driver and for our quality of

life. It will be a priority of mine to protect
our environment while encouraging
the responsible growth of industries
based in our natural resources – outdoor
recreation, tourism, forestry, fishing
and agriculture. I will continue Maine’s
historic thoughtful conservation of
resources, whether through private land
trusts or public investment.
3. Civility and effectiveness: As I
connect with constituents, many people
have articulated their frustration with
leadership and the tone of “veto politics”
in Augusta. Entering the last two years
of the current administration, this is a
critical phase in which we must transition
Maine government from stalemate to
functionality. When the Legislature opens
for business next January, one of our
prevailing motivations will be restoring
state government’s capacity to be effective
and truly work for the people of our state.
It will take intelligent, forward-thinking,
and energetic people to both envision
and implement the plans for future

Why are you seeking elected office?
I am running for office to be a voice for
our district. I chose to return to Maine
after graduating from college because I
love what this state and our community
have to offer. We have great people,
vibrant local businesses, abundant
opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and
an unmatched quality of life. Since April,
I have been walking the western side of
Saco, knocking on doors and connecting

with voters. Saco residents need an
effective advocate in Augusta who believes
in our community. I have what it takes
to serve our district, and along with the
handful of representatives under the age
of 30, I will bring a fresh and necessary
perspective to state policy outcomes. I am
a thoughtful listener and a fair-minded
collaborator who can bring our district’s
concerns to Augusta, navigate policy
issues, and bring information home. I will
use my energy and my skill-set to improve
the quality of life for the people in my
community and for the state of Maine as
a whole.

If you could change one thing about
Saco, what would it be and how
would you do it?
Thanks to the commitment and
investment of leaders in our community,
we are in the beginning stages of a great
revitalization in the Saco-Biddeford
area. I will pursue state-level action to
support that revitalization. With strategic
investment, we can develop our area as a
thriving community to which more young

people and families want to relocate.
Supporting our local business
community will facilitate a thriving
downtown community center. We can also
continue to invest in our downtown core
by encouraging economic development
on Main Street and in our mill campus.
We must also continue to encourage
development and housing opportunities
that work to preserve the character of
historic spaces. To support development
in Saco from the state level, it will be
a priority to forge a long-term plan
for mitigating traffic impacts on Saco
commuters. Additionally, programs that
encourage first time home ownership
will help both our own young people and
prospective new residents put roots down
Saco is already a great place to live and
work. We have a rich history, an active
downtown, and a vibrant, close-knit
community. We are poised for success with
access to an easy commute, abundant
job opportunities, and beautiful spaces.
With focused effort, we will build on the
exciting work already underway.

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