Incumbent, newcomer will face off in state Senate District 2 race

2 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Southern and central Aroostook County voters will have two candidates to choose from on Nov. 8 for state Senate in District 2.

Republican incumbent Harold “Trey” Stewart is vying to retain the position he won in 2020, while Democratic newcomer Danielle Fienberg seeks to unseat him. 

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. In addition to statewide races, including the contest for governor, residents will vote for several municipal and school board offices. Voters should check with their towns for polling times.

Maine’s District 2 encompasses municipalities and unorganized territories in northeastern and southeastern Aroostook County, from Weston to Houlton, through Presque Isle, as well as some points in far northern Penobscot County.  

The Star-Herald posed identical questions to both candidates. Their responses are below, with the candidates listed in alphabetical order.

Danielle Fienberg

Age: 34

Party: Democratic

Why are you running for this office?  

I’m running for office because I believe you deserve to be heard. For too long, politics has been decided by who you know and how much money you have. But that’s not representation “of the people, for the people, and by the people.” That’s just privileged people helping other privileged people.

Many politicians say they care about the economy, but when they have multiple sources of income, it’s hard to believe they understand what it’s like for the rest of us. My family lives just above minimum wage. I know what it’s like to sacrifice so my children can eat.

Our families need action, not just talk about the economy. As your senator, I will work to: lower heating costs, increase minimum wages, make child care and housing affordable and support seniors. Above all, I promise to listen. Please visit my website at and tell me what’s on your mind.

Education: Upper Valley JVS, certificate in graphic arts and four-color process printing, 2006. Undergraduate studies, political science, St. John’s College.  

Employment: Service industry, including customer service agent, kennel tech and bookstore clerk. Infant and early childhood mental health issues captain for national nonprofit Zero-to-Three. Stepped down to give district full focus.

Family: I live in Presque Isle with my librarian husband, John, and our two kids, Theo and Winnie. We have a great dane mix, Moosetopher, and an 18-year-old cat, Moo. Winnie loves being a Girl Scout, and Theo enjoys coding and building. As a mom, I teach my children to work together to solve problems, and to always stand up for what’s right and fair. I plan to live in accordance with those values as I represent our district in Augusta.

What are our region’s top three priorities?

After listening to countless people in our district, I’ve built my platform around working to address our community’s greatest needs. We are desperate for solutions on affordable housing and heating, child care, and getting the lead out of our K-12 schools. 

Creating more affordable living solutions helps both residents and businesses. We’re facing a worker shortage, and workers aren’t going to come here if they can’t find a place to live. Parents can’t work without affordable child care.

My third priority — getting the lead out of schools — impacts us all. Parents need to know that their kids are safe at school. Our children are the future of our community. We need to ensure that our schools have the resources available to remediate in cases where lead has been detected — and it shouldn’t fall on our already overstretched local taxpayers to foot the bill. I know first-hand the dangers of lead, as my son was poisoned by lead in drinking water at an early age. He is still dealing with the effects of it, and I will do everything I can to help other families avoid having to go through what my family has experienced.


Harold “Trey” Stewart

Age: 28 

Party: Republican 

Why are you running for this office?

I am seeking another term in the Senate to continue my work on behalf of northern Maine. We need a senator who is from here and understands the challenges facing our area and our future. We have to grow our population, get our workforce re-engaged, get costs under control to allow families and businesses to balance their budgets and stand up for northern Maine’s interests.  

I have made progress on some of these issues while serving in the minority, but if Republicans retake control, I will be in line to chair the Energy Committee and will ensure energy policies that come out of Augusta will lower our costs for businesses and families.  One-party control in Augusta and [Washington,] D.C., has pushed our economy and workforce to the breaking point.  We need to right this ship and change course before it’s too late.  

I believe we can do that and look forward to working with anyone willing to work with me.

Education: Presque Isle High School graduate, 2012. Degrees in political science and sociology, University of Maine, 2016. MBA 2018. Law degree, University of Maine School of Law, 2022.  

Employment: Office of Rep. Bruce Poliquin. Aroostook Partnership and Northern Maine Development Commission, economic and workforce development. Legal extern for Disability Rights Maine. Licensed real estate broker. Licensed attorney as of October 2022. Previous volunteer firefighter, Presque Isle Fire Department. Intelligence officer, U.S. Navy Reserves.

Family:  My father is a superior court judge in Androscoggin County after a long and successful career practicing law in northern Maine, as did his father before him. About a year ago, my mother passed away from cancer. She fought hard every day and underwent an incredible treatment regimen to hang on for as long as she could. This experience taught me a lot about myself and the rural healthcare system and the problems with health insurance Maine families face first-hand. To say she was a fighter would be an understatement. My mother was a hard worker, community and business leader here in Aroostook County, and always strived to help those less fortunate in our community in whatever way she could. She instilled that same toughness, grit and desire to do good in her three children, including my younger sister, Meredith, who works at a non-profit to prevent hazing on college campuses and sports teams, and my younger brother, Grant, who is a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army in Alabama. I try hard every day to live up to the expectation Mom had of me and hope to instill those same core Aroostook County values to my family someday.

What are our region’s top three priorities?

Like other parts of the state, we have got to get costs under control. If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. We have real issues like mental health access and health care access generally in rural Maine that our leaders should be prioritizing, rather than spending government resources to buy support in an election year.

We need to stop the spending spree and government handouts that both Augusta and [Washington,] D.C., have been on these past couple of years and get people back into the workforce. The biggest competition private industry is facing to attract employees right now is the government — this has to change.  

Energy prices are out of control and the current leaders in Augusta are more interested in helping their special interest friends in the renewable industry than looking out for your family’s budget. To be clear, benefiting the environment and not crippling ratepayers are not mutually exclusive goals, both can be achieved, but not under the current power dynamics.

A previous version of this story incorrectly included Fort Fairfield in District 2. Following the state’s redistricting plan, Fort Fairfield is now in District 1.