Candidate for Maine State Senate District 24

Vote November 5th!

An Experienced Leader


Denise is a dedicated public servant with over two decades of experience in local office. First elected to the M.S.A.D. #75 School Board in 1996, Denise served the towns of Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell, and Topsham for six years. From 2014 to 2022, Denise served her hometown of Topsham as a State Representative before leaving office due to term limits.

While in Augusta, Denise served as the House Chair of the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee for four years. She championed bills to take on Big Pharma and rein in drug prices. She also fought to increase access to affordable health care and hold insurance companies accountable for rate increases.

Denise is also a strong defender of women’s reproductive rights. In 2019 she was designated a Legislative Champion by Planned Parenthood for her work on LD 1261, which increased access to abortion care. She’s also served as a National Council of State Legislatures Maternal and Child Health Fellow.

Meet Denise

Denise Tepler and her family have made their home in Sagadahoc County for nearly 40 years. She and her husband, Sheldon, raised their three daughters in Topsham, where all three attended Topsham Public Schools. Her two sons, Franck and Jessie, also later attended Mt. Ararat High School.

Like many Mainers, Denise has held a variety of jobs. She worked in collections at Bowdoin College’s Arctic Museum, taught Anthropology at USM and UMA, taught cooking through Merrymeeting Adult Ed, wrote a column for The Cryer, and worked in non-profit program evaluation.

A Dedicated Community Member

Fighting for her community is at the heart of everything Denise does. Since terming out, Denise has continued to serve her community through work with two organizations, the Maine Public Health Association — where she serves on the Board and the Policy Committee, and MidCoast Hunger Prevention Program, where she also serves as a board member, a volunteer, and on two committees. Her community service also includes time on the Spectrum Generations Board, the Board of Emerge Maine, the Brunswick Foodshed Advisory Committee, and the Board of Beth Israel Congregation.

On the Issues

Fighting for Working Families

Large increases in the cost-of-living have affected many working families and individuals in the region. Housing, childcare, student loan debt and access to working waterfront are all issues that we must do more to address. We have shortages of both affordable housing and workforce housing for middle class families. The State has a role in providing incentives and working with employers to subsidize home building. Maine can do more to address the childcare shortage by supporting childcare providers, helping families to pay for childcare, and offering incentives for businesses to create internal childcare facilities. Addressing the protection of working waterfront is also crucial for Sagadahoc County’s many fishing and ocean farming families.

Protecting our Environment and Natural Resource Economy

A clean environment is the bedrock of our heritage and the livelihoods of many in Maine. As a legislator, I supported:

• Funding for Land for Maine’s Future, including funding for the Working Waterfront Protection Program

• Incentives for reducing packaging waste making a 50% recycling goal possible in the near future, and

• Upgrading clean water standards for Maine’s rivers and lakes — including the Androscoggin & Kennebec See for yourself! 

Maine Conservation Voters scorecards for 2015-2022

Combating Climate Change

Maine faces daunting challenges from the changing climate. As a legislator, I have long supported Incentives for renewable energy and energy conservation. But we must do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As our school fleets are replaced, I support switching to electric power, lowering operating costs and asthma-inducing emissions along with reducing carbon emissions. We must also strengthen our community infrastructure, including roads, bridges, powerlines, and fishing wharves, to withstand increasingly frequent, fierce storms.

Lowering Property Taxes

The State must pay its fair share of the costs of local government. I supported the restoration of municipal revenue sharing and successful efforts to increase state support for school funding to a promised 55%. Both programs provide towns with state dollars, lowering local property taxes. I will fight to keep these programs funded.

Supporting Schools and Teachers

My six years of service on the MSAD 75 school board convinced me that the State needs to pay its fair share of school budgets. As a legislator, I voted for a guaranteed starting teacher salary and would vote now to increase that amount. Recognizing the essential service teachers provide our children, I voted to strengthen teacher retirement benefits. Looking to the future, I believe it is time to review the way the State determines how to fairly distribute state aid to local schools.

Defending Reproductive Rights

The Right to Choose is a bottom-line issue for me. I will not compromise on women’s reproductive freedom. Losing the protection of Roe v Wade is deeply problematic. I am committed to ongoing state Legislative action because of the loss of federal protections. I experienced life before legal abortion access and have clear memories of the threat to lives that resulted. I strongly support access to all types of birth control, including over-the-counter distribution.

Increase Access to Affordable Healthcare

Affordable access to healthcare is a basic human right. As co-chair of the Health Coverage, Insurance, and Financial Services Committee for four years, I worked to reduce the price of insulin and other drugs, hearing aids, and prostheses and helped create a state-based marketplace where Obamacare plans can be easily compared. We need a health insurance ombudsman in the Maine Bureau of Insurance to aid consumers in disputes with their insurers. We need to expand access to marketplace health insurance subsidies.


“Denise Tepler has a wealth of experience in the Legislature, including most recently as chair of the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee. She has fought for years to improve access to quality health care for all Mainers, no matter where they live or how much money they make. She has served her constituents well in the House, and I know she would bring that same dedication to the Senate.”

Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli (D-Arrowsic)

"Having served with Denise in the Maine Legislature as members of the Sagadahoc delegation, I know she has the experience, skills, energy and commitment essential for the best representation of the people of the district.  

With her 8 years in the Legislature, serving on multiple bipartisan committees, including 4 years as co-chair, Denise understands how to get things done in Augusta.

Denise Tepler also understands that being available and responsive to all members of the community is her job.  Winning an election is only the beginning.  It’s then that the work of serving the people of the District and the State really begins.  Put Denise back on the job!"

Former Representative Jay Mccreight (D-Harpswell)

"We need more legislators like Denise Tepler in Augusta. Her commitment to our shared goals of protecting Maine's wilderness, addressing the climate crisis, and promoting clean air and renewable energy sets her apart as an environment champion. Sierra Club Maine is proud to endorse Denise Tepler for Senate District 24"

Sierra Club Maine

“Denise has shown her steadfast support of Wabanaki priorities with her previous legislative experience. We are honored to endorse her candidacy for State Senate."

Wabanaki Alliance (Quote from Maulian Bryant, President of the Wabanaki Alliance and Ambassador for Penobscot Nation)

"When I realized that Eloise Vitelli was term-limited from seeking re-election to the Maine State Senate, I knew that it would be big shoes to fill. Fortunately, we have a deeply experienced candidate ready to step up to represent us in Senate District 24, which includes all of Sagadahoc County plus Dresden in Lincoln County. I’m supporting Denise Tepler in the June primary for several reasons, and all of them revolve around her experience and more specifically, the type of experience needed on day one. I’ve been proud to work with her as her colleague in the State House. She represented Topsham in the Maine House for eight years, serving on a variety of committees, including Taxation, Appropriations and Financial Affairs, and most recently, as House Chair of Health Care, Insurance and Financial Services. Throughout her time in the House, I saw her advocate for her constituents, listening to them and advocating for the issues they cared about. I also watched as she sought compromise and common ground with her colleagues to move a good policy forward. Finally, I saw her make hard decisions and take hard votes, because when it came down to it, voting a bill up or down, a legislator has to take a stand. She will do the same in the State Senate for us."

Representative Allison Hepler (D-Woolwich)

"I'm excited to endorse Denise Tepler for State Senator of District 23 representing Sagadahoc County and Dresden. Denise's experience as a State Representative, during which time she served on multiple committees and chaired the committee on Health Coverage, Insurance, and Financial Services (HCIFS), has her well-positioned to jump back in to get legislation passed that will help improve the lives of Mainers. Denise's current volunteer service on the Maine Public Health Association board, the MidCoast Hunger Prevention Program board, and the Highlands Resident Assistance Fund board demonstrates her commitment and dedication to the people of our district. Denise is a mother, a wife, a friend, a neighbor, and most recently a new grandmother - she is someone who understands the issues we are all facing and cares deeply about doing what she can to help our community. I know she will be a fantastic senator who will listen to us and represent us well in Augusta."

Representative Becky Jauch (D-Topsham)

"Denise Tepler has been a steadfast supporter of Maine's environment during her time in Maine's Legislature. In all my years working to protect Maine's environment, I could rely on Denise when important bills were up for a vote. Check out her strong credentials on the Maine Conservation Voters Scorecard! Whether it was vital funding for the Land for Maine's Future program or fair tax treatment of the land conserved by our local land trusts, Denise was there to help. As a member of the Taxation Committee, she saw to it that unfair, anti-conservation legislation was defeated. While on the Appropriations Committee, she supported efforts to renew funding for the Land for Maine's Future Program. Now Maine, including its coastal communities, face the challenges of Climate Change. I know that Denise will work to ensure the right decisions are made in Augusta."

Tim Glidden; Former Director, Land for Maine's Future Program and former President, Maine Coast Heritage Trust

"Denise is an experienced legislator, passionate advocate and proven health care champion. As former House chair of the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee, she played a pivotal role in the passage of laws to lower the cost of prescription drugs and improve access to quality affordable health care coverage. In Sagadahoc County, she has stepped up to combat hunger and meet the needs of her community through her work with the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program. There is no question that Denise would represent the people of Senate District 24 well in Augusta."

Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Allagash)

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