Sheila Menair, of Great Island, wants to apply her financial knowledge and negotiation skills to the challenges of state government.
Great Island Democrat Sheila Menair says her skills in finance and negotiation would help her bring together different perspectives to make progress in the Legislature.
Menair is running for the Democratic nomination in Maine House District 99, which consists of Harpswell and part of Brunswick. A primary on June 14 will determine whether she or Harpswell Neck businesswoman Cheryl Golek advances to the general election in November.
Stephen “Bubba” Davis, a semi-retired engineer and fisherman from Cundy’s Harbor, is the only Republican in the race. One of the three candidates will replace Rep. Jay McCreight, D-Harpswell, who cannot seek reelection because of term limits.
Menair grew up in Brunswick and graduated from Brunswick High School in 1989. She has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Southern Maine. After college, she worked in banking for several years before going into financial planning.
She is now a financial advisor and partner at Casco Bay Wealth Advisors, a firm with offices in Brunswick, Auburn, Falmouth and Lovell. She moved to Harpswell about six years ago.
A certified divorce financial analyst, she is the founder and president of a volunteer-run nonprofit called Together Invested that helps women build financial literacy.
Together Invested holds monthly workshops for women who are going through divorce to help them prepare for the legal, financial and emotional issues involved. Menair facilitates the workshops every other month.
“Alongside my career, my passion is advocating for women,” she said.
She has volunteered with the town as a member of the Harpswell Canine Task Force, charged with determining “reasonable as well as responsible guidelines for dog owners” on the town’s trails.
Menair was a volunteer with U.S. Sen. Angus King’s 2012 and 2018 campaigns. She is a graduate of Emerge Maine, which recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office; and a member of Harpswell Indivisible, a group of progressive activists.
The events of 2016, including the presidential election, “proved to me that we need more women in government, because government can’t work for all of us if we’re not all represented,” Menair said.
Menair is the daughter of a Navy commander who taught her that “you have to take action,” she said. “Now is the time to challenge myself and be part of the solution.”
Menair believes she can “work with people on both sides” and facilitate progress in Augusta. “I want to bring more non-legislative people to the table to help come up with solutions,” she said.
“I don’t look at it as I’m running as a Democrat,” she added. “I look at it as I’m running as a human being who’s trying to do a better job.”
She noted that she works in a “heavily Republican” industry. Her background in finance influences all aspects of her life, including her approach to government.
“It’s the taxpayers’ money and we can’t be wasting it,” she said. “We have to be spending it effectively.”
“I’ve spent my entire career working with local families, guiding them down a path to their financial goals, and I happen to work with a small group of other advisors who have stuck together for over two decades because we have the same values at heart: doing right by our customers and playing by the rules,” she said. “My 20 years in the finance industry give me a sharp eye for fiscal responsibility in all fields — personal, professional and civic.”
She thinks her experience in divorce finance, specifically, will serve her well at the State House.
“I’ve helped women and couples with negotiations, temperature control (and I’m not talking about home thermostats), and attaining mutual understanding to arrive at shared agreements,” she said. “The challenges in the State House are no less divisive and I accept the challenge of forging relationships and finding solutions to the tough issues, from the health care industry to the fishing industry.”
She wants to protect existing laws regarding health care and women’s rights. She said that fishermen have come under attack on a variety of fronts, and she would advocate for the industry.
“Given the environment at the State House, I know I have the temperament and the straight talk, with a side of compassion, to work together with all representatives and our constituents,” she said.
She lives in the Mountain Road area with her husband, Ben. They have one adult daughter. She likes to hike Harpswell’s trails and walk her dogs at Mitchell Field.