Had someone told a young Beverly Uhlenhake, busy collecting eggs from her family farm’s 40,000 chickens in Ohio to earn money for college, that one day she’d be running for the Maine state Senate – and become deathly allergic to the creatures she tended to daily – she wouldn’t have believed them.
But both are true – the latter being only somewhat problematic on her campaign trail through Maine farm towns. Uhlenhake, a Brewer resident, is running as a Democrat for District 8 against Republican incumbent Kimberley Rosen, who has served in the Senate since 2014.
Uhlenhake moved to Maine two decades ago to study higher education administration at the University of Maine. As school went on, she realized she liked the state of Maine better than she liked her field. She switched directions and got involved with the state’s nonprofit industry, working as executive director of the Bangor Humane Society, and for the past decade and a half, as a commercial real estate broker in Penobscot County.
Though Uhlenhake is new to the state Legislature race, she’s no stranger to public service.
She has been on Brewer’s City Council for five years and served as the town’s mayor for one term. She remembers clearly the moment she decided to run for the Senate.
“I was sitting in a school board meeting in the spring of 2017,” she said. “There had to have been 150 people in the room. The school committee needed to make decisions about budgets and long-term planning for the city, for the school system. And they couldn’t make decisions because the state hadn’t decided yet how much money they were giving … and that’s not a way you can run a school.”
“At some point, you just look at it and you say, ‘I can’t not do this,’” she added. “This is too important, this state is too important to me, it’s too important to my neighbors to not have someone up there representing us in a way that will get things done.”
Uhlenhake cites her listening and negotiating skills – ones she practices daily as a realtor – as well as her dedication to maintaining a community presence by attending local events and connecting with residents throughout the year as qualities that would make her an excellent representative for District 8.
If she makes it to Augusta, her top priority will be to stabilize education funding and property taxes, which she describes as intricately linked.
“Economic development happens when things are in motion and when you stop things and you just pool a pile of money in Augusta – the Rainy Day Fund needs to go back to the communities so that the property tax burden isn’t on the little lady down the street who can’t afford to pay her property tax, it isn’t on the school that can’t afford the teachers they’re required to have for kids with disabilities. It’s just – the flow needs to happen.”
Healthcare is important to Uhlenhake, too, but she feels that Maine’s answer rests on the results of a federal solution.
“While [healthcare is] incredibly important to me and I’ll be paying close attention to it, there’s a limit to what we can do,” she noted. “So what I can do is really work on how we stabilize education, how we stabilize property taxes. And those are things that I know I’m going to work really hard on.”
ABOUT THE CANDIDATE
Name: Beverly “Bev” Uhlenhake
Occupation: Realtor at Epstein Commercial Real Estate
Senate District: 8
District includes: Bradley, Brewer, Bucksport, Burlington, Castine, Clifton, Dedham, East Central Penobscot Unorganized Territory, Eddington, Great Pond, Holden, Lincoln, Lowell, Northwest Hancock Unorganized Territory, T32 MD Township, Orland, Orrington, Penobscot, Verona Island and part of East Hancock Unorganized Territory
Campaign website: http://bit.ly/2O6gnZ7
Opponent: Republican incumbent Kimberley Rosen. Rosen’s campaign Facebook page: http://bit.ly/2CDxmQk