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State Senator Goodall's Departure Creates A Scramble
07/12/2013   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

Former state Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall said he's looking forward to a new challenge as the next regional administrator for the Small Business Administration. But Goodall's SBA appointment has created a political scramble for senate district 19, which includes his homebase of richmond. The empty seat presents a challenge for Democrats and an opportunity for Republicans.

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Although Seth Goodall has spent a good part of his professional life as a Richmond lawyer and three-term state senator he said he's always been anxious to get back to his roots.

"I've always had a focus on small business," Goodall said. "My brother and I got an opportunity to start a small business pushing lawnmowers in Richmond," Goodall said. "He runs the company today. Over 40 people work for him in the summer. It was a real learning process for me during those early years."

Now Goodall will consult with hundreds of small business owners throughout New England. He will have a full schedule, working with office staff in evaluating applications from small business owners seeking SBA guarantees for loans from participating lenders. He'll also review other SBA programs to determine if they are meeting the goals of the agency. The SBA regional administrator is a position that's been awarded in the past to a number of emerging career politicians, including former Secretary of State Charlie Summers; former gubernatorial candidate Pat McGowan and Senator Susan Collins. But Jennifer Sporzynski said the agency plays an important role in helping develop business in New England.

"There are actually many programs that the SBA has that are utilized in Maine," Sporzynski said.

Sporzynski is the director of micro-enterprise resource and policy development at Coastal Enterprises Incorporated. She said she's particularly interested in working with Goodall on the SBA's-supported women's business center at CEI, which includes a focus on networking.

"It's been sort of shown that the way women interact particularly in opening their businesses through these networks and that offers support with one another and obviously a lot of opinions and input on how to improve your business or your product," Sporznski said. "So those are some of the things that we do with that program."

At the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, executive director Chris Hall said Goodall's ability to quickly size up problems and find common ground as a legislative leader should serve him well at the SBA which assists Maine businesses in a variety of ways.

"That's everything from writing a business plan to getting financing to making the next step of a successful business work," Hall said. "We find that the SBA are just tremendous partners for the Portland Regional Chamber and I think really all around the state."

With his resignation as Senate majority leader, Goodall vacates a District 19 state Senate seat that is hotly contested by several Republicans and Democrats vying for the job. The seat has been held by members of both parties over the last 20 years and is considered a swing district by election watchers. Republican party leaders were not immediately available for comment, but Lizzy Reinholt, communications director for the Maine Democratic Party, said her party plans to hold on to the seat...and maintain 19 of the 35 seats.

"It's a great opportunity to motivate our base in an off-year election and we also know that Mainers are frustrated right now," Reinholt said. "They're frustrated by the Republicans anti-middle class, anti-working agenda and they're ready to send another strong democrat like Seth to Augusta."

But Dan Demeritt, a political consultant and former communications director for Republican Governor Paul LePage, said it's a change for the GOP to pick up another seat in a closely divided Maine senate.

Gov. LePage is expected to set the date for a special election in District 19 later this summer.

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