NORWAY — Two term Selectman Mike Twitchell has announced he will not seek re-election to a third term on the board of selectmen.
Instead, the 56-year-old Democratic Norway resident is looking to unseat State Representative Tom Winsor, a Republican, as representative for District 71, which includes Norway, Waterford, West Paris and Sweden.
Twitchell is a drywaller and active in various community organizations and a member of the Paris Masonic Lodge 94 and a parishioner at the First Congregational Church in Paris.
If elected, he will become one of 151 legislators serving a two-year term in the State House in Augusta.
“It’s been something I been wanting to do for a long time,” Twitchell said in an interview with the Advertiser Democrat.
Twitchell’s interest in politics goes back many years to the days when he rode in cars with a group of Democratic friends on Cape Cod, where he grew up, who were edging him on to vote for Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election.
A great admirer of Carter, but he was just shy of the voter age so he had to wait until 1980, when he cast his first presidential ballot for then-Gov. Ronald Reagan. He has always voted for the person, not necessarily the party, he said.
He moved to Maine, where his father grew up, when he was 17 and went into the drywall business. It was that business that probably sparked his first serious thoughts of a political career.
While working in the State House in Augusta he would see then-Gov. John Baldacci (who served as Maine’s 73rd governor from 2003-11) in the hallways.
“The governor seemed like a friendly, nice guy. I wonder if we could meet him,” Twitchell said. He and his boss approached the governor’s secretary who immediately arranged for a meeting.
Before he knew it, Twitchell was in the governor’s office talking about politics, Mama Baldacci’s Restaurant in Bangor and the governor’s father’s love of cigarettes and hot coffee.
“I remember he said his dad was happy if he had a cigarette and cup of coffee in his hands,” said Twitchell.
The governor also mentioned he had worked with Don Twitchell (Mike Twitchells’ third cousin and longtime state senator from Norway).
The governor told Twitchell to get involved in politics.
“He said, ‘It’s a good experience,’” Twitchell recalled.
Twitchell went home and thought about it, but with advice from his wife and others, he realized that he needed to get local experience first. So in 2010 he ran for the Norway Board of Selectmen – the same board that his close friend, Kurt Palmer, had sat on from 1992 to 1996.
He said at the time, he ran for selectman for a chance to represent the taxpayers of Norway “equally.”
“When I was knocking on doors I learned something from everyone,” said Twitchell, who describes himself as a good listener.
As a state representative, he hopes to continue working on issues such as improving the quality of life for those in this area. And he wants to continue to encourage youth to become involved in their town and to get out and vote.
“We’re out here in small rural western Maine and I want to be a representative not to just some of the people, but to all the people,” Twitchell said. “I try to work well with all people.”
Twitchell says he sees this position as perhaps opening up an avenue to a new career and one in which he can continue to help others.
Twitchell – a Clean Election candidate – said anyone who would like to contribute to his campaign or simply has a question can call him at 744-5152.
Twitchell is using the Maine Clean Election legislation to finance his campaign. In order to qualify for a clean election, House candidates must get 50 $5 donations. Once he reaches that milestone, Twitchell will become eligible for a certain amount of funding paid through an annual appropriation from the General Fund.
The legislation was passed by voters in 1996 and first put into use in 2000 as a way to control escalating campaign spending.