State Rep. Jesse MacLachlan, R-Westbrook, announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election this year for the 35th District seat he’s held for three terms.
MacLachlan started his own business, Avalon Infrastructure, late last year, and it became clear that he needed to choose between public service and his business, “as someone who goes all in with what I do,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the nature of a part time legislature forces many of us to choose between our service or our careers,” MacLachlan said. “At 30 years old, I feel that it’s the right time for me to focus on building a professional foundation that will allow me to have a family of my own one day.”
MacLachlan’s decision leaves an opening for a new Republican to face Democratic Clinton Town Council member Christine Goupil in what could be a close vote. MacLachlan was re-elected in 2018 over Clinton Democrat Jason Adler with 52.5 percent of votes.
Westbrook Republican Town Committee Chairman and State Central Committeeman for the 33rd Senate District Henry Ruppenicker Jr. said the party is focused on reaching out to potential candidates to replace MacLachlan. Ruppenicker said he will be working with Republican leaders from Westbrook, Clinton and Killingworth to ensure voters have a choice in November.
“Obviously, Jesse’s decision comes as somewhat of a shock. He’s known as a procrastinator, so I didn’t read anything into his lackluster fundraising,” Ruppenicker wrote in an email. “Jesse brought his own unique style to the position and I’ll miss working with him.”
MacLachlan said there are several eminently qualified potential candidates who he is certain will serve the district well.
MacLachlan drew the ire of Republicans for voting in favor of the wide-ranging police accountability bill in a special session last month. MacLachlan was the only Republican in either the House or Senate to vote in favor of the bill.
MacLachlan said pushback on his vote didn’t influence his decision to leave the race. Legislators take hard votes all the time, and sometimes people agree with those decisions, and sometimes they don’t, he said.
“It wasn’t perfect but it was the right thing to do given the time we are in and the conversation being had about the need to balance public safety with government accountability,” MacLachlan said of the bill.
MacLachlan said he was proud to help pass a bi-partisan budget in 2017, deliver a long-anticipated upgrade to Clinton’s train station, work on mental healthcare parity and cap the cost of prescription insulin for those with insurance during his six years in the House.
“The memories I’ll cherish most though are the times spent in the district with my constituents: Eagle Scout ceremonies, food drives with Families Helping Families, first responder award nights, park cleanups at Chatfield Hollow State Park, Read Across America with the elementary school kids, to name a few,” MacLachlan said. “Rich experiences with my neighbors that I will always cherish.”
MacLachlan said he’s excited to commit himself to his business developing renewable energy projects. He also plans to promote awareness for mental health care and destigmatize mental health, and support giving young people more options for skills-based learning, he said.
When he was elected in 2014, MacLachlan was 24 years old. He said he would advise young people interested in running for elected office to put themselves out there.
“The only prerequisite for service is a willing heart, hard work, and the commitment to listen,” MacLachlan said. “Learn the issues to the best of your ability and make decisions based on what you believe to be right. If you are true to yourself you can never go wrong.”