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Gorham’s Ellie Sato announces campaign for Maine House

GORHAM, ME – On Saturday, March 16, long-time Gorham resident Ellie Sato announced that she will be a candidate for the Maine House of Representatives. If elected, Ellie Sato would become the first Japanese-American to serve in the Maine State Legislature.

Sato will be seeking the Democratic nomination to run in House District 109, an area consisting of east and north Gorham. Currently, House District 109 is being served by Rep. Jim Boyle, D-Gorham, who is not seeking re-election this year. 

“Gorham is my hometown, and I want to ensure that the needs of our community are addressed in Augusta,” said Sato. “As a former bartender and professional dancer, I know firsthand how hard it is to live paycheck to paycheck. That’s why it’s important to have an ally at the State House who not only understands the issues that face our town, but who also knows how much work it takes to make ends meet. As a State Representative, I will address the issues that affect our community most with the knowledge and connections I gained when I was a legislative aide at the State House. I have the passion, experience, and capacity to safeguard the future for our town and our state.”

If elected to the Maine State Legislature, Sato aims to offset the burden of property taxes, protect and expand access to health care services, address the effects of the climate crisis by building on land conservation efforts, and continue to fully fund public education at 55%. She supports policies that make housing more affordable for homeowners and renters, safeguard access to affordable abortion care, and fund legal services that support survivors of sexual and domestic violence. 

Sato currently serves as Chair of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee of the Maine Democratic Party. She has been working to promote better representation in the state party for those in marginalized and disadvantaged communities. Particularly, she is working to remove barriers of participation to political activism. As the daughter of the founders of Yosaku Restaurant in Portland, she is continuing the work and legacy of her family, who were instrumental in bringing high-quality Japanese cuisine to Maine.

Most recently, Sato served as a legislative aide for multiple Democratic lawmakers in the Maine Senate before leaving to run for office. In her capacity as an Aide, she directly supported Sen. Stacy Brenner, D-Scarborough, by listening to Gorham constituents and guiding them through state government. She helped Sen. Brenner advance legislation to address the PFAS crisis, work towards Maine’s climate goals, and close gaps in health care insurance.

“Ellie is a hard working and committed individual, whom I had the pleasure of working with,” Sen. Brenner said. “She is a fast-learner with a strong capacity to understand the complexity of an issue and knows how to move it forward. In supporting the Senate through its work towards reproductive justice, she was prepared, eloquent, and showed a propensity for leadership.” 

Prior to her work in Maine politics, Sato worked as a professional dancer, paying the bills through her work in food service as a bartender, caterer, and waiter. She received her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Dance from Fordham University and the School of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, with a minor in political science.

The Democratic Primary for state elections will be held on June 11, 2024. The General Election will be on November 5, 2024. Absentee ballots can be requested starting March 13, 2024, and will start being sent out May 13, 2024. 

Ellie Sato at her home in Gorham. Courtesy of Savanna Pettengill.

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