BOWDOINHAM — State Representative Seth Berry, a local business leader and former teacher, has filed papers to run for reelection to the Maine House of Representatives. Berry represents House District 55, which includes Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, most of Richmond, and the historic nature preserve of Swan Island.
“Augusta has many lobbyists and voices for the big dogs, and too few for the underdogs,” said Berry. “From small businesses to small towns and property taxpayers, from senior citizens to disabled veterans, from our children to the working families or single parents raising them, the people we need to hear from too often can’t be there. My job is to listen to you, and to be your voice and your vote in Augusta.”
Berry, 49, grew up in Bowdoinham and taught in public schools for nearly 20 years, first in East Harlem, NY and later back home in M.S.A.D. 75. He is currently House Chair of the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology. Berry has previously served as Majority Leader and Majority Whip of the Maine House, and has served on or chaired legislative committees ranging from taxation to workforce preparation. He was also a Bowdoinham selectperson from 2002 to 2006, including a year as selectboard chair.
For his legislative and policy leadership, Berry has won awards from the Northeast Clean Energy Council, the Maine Children’s Alliance, the Maine Development Foundation, Maine Conservation Voters, the University of Maine, the Youth Leadership Advisory Team, the Maine Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse, and the Maine Lung Association. As a teacher, Berry won the Hexter Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Public Education Association in 1999; was a featured classroom in the book “NYC’s Best Middle Schools” (Soho Press, 1999); and won the New York City Schools Chancellor “Caring Community” Award in 1998.
Since 2006, Berry has sponsored over two dozen successful measures. He has focused on fiscally responsible economic development, working to ensure government accountability in tax incentives and to improve workforce training as well as early childhood care and education. He has made sustainability a priority, passing legislation to control air pollution, oversee nuclear waste storage, and better fund energy efficiency efforts for Maine homes and businesses. Other successful bills have included enhanced consumer protections in telecommunication rate-setting; a first-in-the-nation ban on insurance caps to protect the most vulnerable from medical bankruptcy; a first-in-the-nation bill to require extended producer responsibility for compact fluorescent lamps; increased notification requirements for pesticide spraying; increased home visitation to assist families of at-risk infants and others; and one of the nation’s first bans on the designer drugs referred to as “bath salts.”
In the current Legislature Berry has sponsored bills to reduce the rising cost of electricity rates, to boost the state’s investments in rural broadband, and to protect the ability to generate our own electricity via solar or other means. He has passed a bill providing local control over the siting of marijuana caregivers co-ops near schools, has amended statewide building codes to remove restrictions on tiny houses, and is working at present on “Scott’s Law,” a bill he wrote after learning of the two-year ordeal of a PTSD-disabled Brunswick veteran and his family, who were denied assistance by the Maine state retirement system.
Since 2011 Berry has been a vice president at Kennebec River Biosciences in Richmond, a Maine-based, Maine-owned biotechnology firm with an expanding, global presence and a unique focus on aquatic animal health. He also serves on the United Way of Midcoast Maine’s “Success by Six” Advisory Council, which works to support area children ages 0 to 5, and on the Advisory Council of the Maine Shared Services Alliance, an association of early education and care providers. Berry lives in Bowdoinham with his wife Adelaida and their two sons, ages 14 and 16.
Berry was first elected to the legislature in 2006 and has won each of his five previous elections to the seat. However, he takes nothing for granted and plans a strong, positive campaign from now until Election Day on November 6th.
“Now more than ever, my constituents need and deserve positive, practical and principled leadership,” said Berry. “I try hard every day to be the kind of representative who listens and solves problems.”