The Maine Green Independent Party nominated a Topsham social worker to seek the recently vacated Senate District 19 seat.
Daniel Stromgren, 40, won an 8-4 vote by secret ballot Wednesday night and will appear on the Aug. 27 ballot facing one of three Democrats and a Republican.
He defeated Alice Knapp, who served on the Richmond Planning Board from 1991 to 1998 and on the Board of Selectmen from 1998 through 2005. Knapp sought the Senate seat as an independent in 2004 and took 14 percent of the vote.
A newcomer to electoral politics, Stromgren is a social worker who has frequently spoken of the need to move beyond two-party politics, said Tom MacMillan, a former party secretary.
Bob Goddard, secretary of the local Green committee, said Stromgren won by positioning himself ahead of time with a committee of organizers.
“His message was for small businesses, unity and listening to a diversity of different viewpoints,” said Goddard, of Topsham. “People remarked on his demeanor. He has a calm approach to problem solving and seemed like a man who could get along with a lot of different people.”
MacMillan and other Green officials said the special election affords them the chance to widen the traditional twoparty debate.
“It’s really dysfunctional how most votes come down to party lines and whose leadership is better able to corral its members, rather than really what are the best ideas,” MacMillan said.
In an email this morning, Stromgren said his focus during the campaign will be on small business, economic development, marine resources, agriculture and health care.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he earned a master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of New England in 2010.
“I believe in holistic social work, including clinical, community activism and social justice paradigms,” he wrote on LinkedIn. “Enjoy helping people deal with ‘the man’ and keeping big brother in check. Checks and balances .... the foundation of democracy.”
Stromgren is married and has one child, Goddard said.
John Rensenbrink, a party spokesman, said today the caucus will help the party launch a strong campaign.
Stromgren “felt it was good that we had a contest, that it was a benefit to the party,” Rensenbrink said. “It gives legitimacy and stature to his candidacy.”
Asked if Stromgren could win, Rensenbrink said, “He said he wants to go out there and win, so more power to him.”
“I’m delighted at the quality of the debate between Daniel Stromgren and Alice Knapp,” Rensenbrink said. “The open and substantive discussion augurs well for Daniel’s campaign.
“The party is clearly arousing itself in a serious way to get behind his bid to be District 19’s next senator.”
Fred Horch of Brunswick, the most recent local Green to run for the Legislature, said Stromgren is a good choice for the party.
“In the short time he’s had to prepare for the race, Mr. Stromgren has already managed to pull together an enthusiastic campaign team and has re-energized Greens living in Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties,” Horch said. “I think all voters will be impressed by his hard work, commitment, and ideas for bringing people together for the common good. It’s going to be a great race.”
Prior to the caucus, party activists coalesced around Stromgren and were busy raising seed money contributions for him as a Clean Elections candidate.
Stromgren needs $1,500 in seed money. Activists were seeking 15 donations of $100 each, about half of which was pledged prior to the caucus.
There are approximately 800 registered members of the Maine Green Independent Party living within the Senate district, Goddard said.
Democrats will choose from among three candidates — Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic, David Sinclair of Bath and Will Neilson of Arrowsic — at a caucus 6 p.m. Monday at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham.
Republicans are poised to nominate Paula Benoit, who held the seat from 2006 to 2008 before narrowly losing to Seth Goodall. They will caucus at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 23, at the Smith-Toby American Legion Hall in Bath.
Benoit has owned a gift store in Bath and worked as an advocate for adoptees in the Senate.
The winner will replace Goodall, a Richmond Democrat who resigned to become New England regional administrator for the Small Business Administration.
The district is made up of Sagadahoc County and the Lincoln County town of Dresden.