2018-01-18 / Front Page

Former mayor announces run for governor

By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer

Donna Dion Donna Dion BIDDEFORD – A former Biddeford mayor announced her candidacy for the 2018 gubernatorial race amidst a crowded field, but could make history if elected.

Donna Dion served three terms as Biddeford mayor from 1997 to 2003. She officially registered as a Democratic candidate on Tuesday, Jan. 2. If elected, she would be the first woman to serve as Maine’s governor. Maine is the only state in New England governor. to have never elected a female In the United States, only 39 women have served in 28 states and one woman has served as the governor of Puerto Rico, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

Dion is joined by 24 other candidates who have registered with the Maine Commission on Government Ethics and Election Practices. Ten candidates, including Dion, have registered under the Maine Clean Election Act. Once they receive funding for their campaigns from the state, they will be unable to accept private contributions and must pay for all goods and services with Maine Clean Election Act funds.

Six other women will join Dion in the race to the Blaine House, including Mary Mayhew, Betsy Sweet, Teresa Hayes, Diane Russell, Elizabeth Marsano and Janet Mills.

Dion first ran for governor in 2010 as a write-in candidate. She had intended to register as a Democratic candidate but arrived at the Secretary of State’s office three minutes after it closed on the last day to submit signatures. She continued to campaign that year and was able to attend debates and visit 14 counties on a budget of $5,000.

“It shows I’m human and willing to come back and do it again,” Dion said. “My diverse background makes me, I think, very qualified to be able to listen, to collaborate, to work and try to pull people together without looking at labels and help Maine move forward.”

Dion said six years as mayor taught her she won’t know everything or be totally prepared on day one of the job.

“Not a single thing fits everybody,” she said. “Not one policy or bill. I can’t go to Fort Kent and think of Portland and I can’t go to Calais and think of Fryeburg. Everybody reacts differently.”

Outside of her previous political offices, Dion has worked for Time Warner for 12 years and as the finance director of two nonprofits, Creative Work Systems and Port Resources.

“We need to know where money is being used,” she said. “I think because I’ve been doing that for so many years, I have no problems asking questions.”

Dion said training Maine’s next workforce will be a top priority for her.

“With York County Community College, money existed at the time that enabled us to fine tune individuals in the metal trades industry,” she said. “In order to address at least the new workforce, we need to have training programs. I want to tap into the current money from federal and state. Between looking at community training and development, education is the core of any structure in any state. A high quality education system, reaching kids at all levels be it college, special needs or skills development creates a stronger infrastructure for individuals to train to go out and be able to provide for themselves.”

Getting her message out to the people of Maine, especially across party lines, will be her greatest challenge Dion said.

“I may be a Democrat, but I am a very conservative Democrat at that,” she said. “The tags are not important. I think you have to take away the tag and work on what did you say. Just listening to what’s being said rather than the tag saying it, lately even more so is important. I’m a Democratic candidate, but when I’m speaking it’s about what I’ll do for everybody.”

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