St. John Valley

Hometown hero and elementary school educator compete for House District 1 seat

FORT KENT, Maine — The race is on for Maine House District 1 between two political newcomers.

Austin Theriault, a former NASCAR driver and businessman, is running against Democrat Dana Appleby for the House District 1 seat being vacated by Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, due to term limits.

The district includes Allagash, Fort Kent, New Canada, Saint Francis, St. John Plantation, Eagle Lake, Winterville Plantation, Wallagrass, Portage Lake, Ashland, Masardis, Garfield Plantation, Nashville Plantation and Clayton Lake township.

Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times posed identical questions to both candidates. 

Below are their replies, in alphabetical order of the candidate’s last name.


Name: Dana Appleby

Age: 53

Party: Democrat 

Why are you running for this office?  I am running for The Maine House of Representatives to protect the rights of all Maine citizens. We need to keep the freedoms we have fought for: reproductive health rights, same sex marriage and the rights of our LGBTQ+ and minority communities. I will also fight for teachers and students at all levels of education, from birth into adulthood. Maine is beautiful and I have a desire to keep the Maine environment clean and free from pollution of all kinds. I also support affordable health care, housing and day care for all Maine citizens. I am excited to see how I can make a difference for Maine and Northwestern Aroostook County.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, minor in Environmental Education.

Employment: Substitute teacher at Fort Kent Elementary School and waitress at Two Rivers Lunch.

Family: Husband Don Appleby married for 26 years. Three kids, ages 22, 20 and 17.

What are our region’s top three priorities? Economy: Supply-chain shortages due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have driven up the cost of virtually every expense. And with winter on the way, we’re all rightfully worried about the cost of heating.

Education: As a teacher, I understand first-hand the challenges our education system is facing. In our district, we are dealing with an unprecedented loss of teachers and child care workers to more profitable careers.

Environment: Our natural landscape in Northern Maine is one of our most beautiful assets and I intend to keep it that way. I will support legislation that protects our natural environment and keeps it pristine for all to enjoy.


Name: Austin Leo Theriault 

Age: 28

Party: Republican

Why are you running?: Over the past decade, I’ve put our area on the map to millions of people around the country. Now I want to make sure our area has a strong voice in Augusta. The area needs another champion who is well respected, has organizational and business experience, so we can continue to advocate for the future of growth and development in Aroostook County.

Education: Fort Kent Community High School Class of 2012. Associates of Arts at Central Piedmont Community College. Currently a part-time business major at University of Maine at Presque Isle.

Employment: Owner at AT Racing Development, a group specializing in motorsports business, marketing and contract negotiation.

Family: Not Married

What are our regions top priorities?:

Reducing the cost of living, so families can stay here and small businesses can expand and flourish. Strengthen education by investing and encouraging attendance at our local college and trade schools. Greater access to mental health support and drug abuse interventions that target both supply and demand.

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