Burnin’ down the house

If you don’t know anything else about Biddeford politics, you ought to know about the Dutremble family, one of the city’s most prolific, political families.

For more than 50 years, the Dutremble family has been — in one way or another —  deeply entrenched in local political circles.

Biddeford Firefighter David Dutremble will make a bid for the state senate seat that was previously held by his cousin, Dennis “Duke” Dutremble

Lucien “Babe” Dutremble, one of 13 children, never lost an election during a political career that included several terms on the city council, six terms in the Maine House of Representatives, the mayor’s office and serving as a York County Commissioner. Babe’s brother, Richard, was a York County Sheriff. Babe’s son, Richard, today serves as a York County commissioner.

Just as Babe’s political career was winding down, his second eldest son was making a name for himself. Dennis “Duke” Dutremble served several terms in the Maine Senate before being tapped as the senate president. But he retreated from the public spotlight after losing his bid to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Flash forward nearly two decades, and yet another Dutremble is making a foray into the city’s political establishment, banking on his family’s legacy and his “outsider” perspective.

David Dutremble is a lieutenant in the Biddeford Fire Department, the youngest of Babe Dutremble’s nephews, and is now a candidate for the District 4 State Senate seat.

Despite his legacy name and strong local connections, David is facing some challenges on the road to Augusta.

1.) A crowded primary field could split the city’s Democratic base and allow someone like businessman James Booth of Arundel to take the seat as a unenrolled candidate. Booth, a native of the neighboring city of Saco, is the son of former Saco Mayor Haley Booth and served on the Saco City Council.

2.) Expect his primary opponents (which could include former State Rep. Stephen Beaudette and former city councilor James Emerson) to question whether Dutremble can effectively balance his city job as a firefighter while serving in the State Senate.

A chart that outlines the Dutremble family’s political influence

Furthermore, we were stunned that David has yet to seek the counsel of his cousins, Duke Dutremble and County Commissioner Richard Dutremble.


David Dutremble graduated from Biddeford High School in 1985. Since 1988, he has been a Biddeford firefighter. He and his wife, Charlene, have five children.

Why jump into the fray for a state senate seat without any prior political experience?

“Honestly, I would have gone into local politics a long time ago, but the city’s charter prevents city employees from holding municipal offices.  Initially, I was thinking about running for the House until I talked to Alan [Casavant] and found out he is hoping to keep his seat.”

You have all the political muscle you need, given your last name.

(Laughs) “It’s an intimidating last name, you know in local politics…absolutely, but it also carries a lot of expectations.”

Aren’t you busy enough. Why run for public office?

“I think we need more people in Augusta who can reach across the political divides. I think government has a responsibility to do good things for the people. Government should be creating an atmosphere that promotes economic development.”

You sound a little like a Republican.

(Laughs) “I’m a life-long Democrat, but I think both parties want to see Maine succeed. It’s time to stop all the political bickering and blame. It’s time to think about the people we serve. I don’t care who gets credit, as long as we do good things for the people.

“When my kids grow up, I want them to have the same opportunities I had. My step son had to move out west to find a good job. I think that’s really sad. It bothers me to see local kids miss out on the same opportunities we had growing up here.”

How can you be a firefighter and a state senator at the same time?

“I’ll use vacation time, and swap time. I’ve already run it past the guys in the department. I know I have support and we can swap shifts to accommodate my schedule.”

You haven’t talked to Duke about your decision to seek his old senate seat?

(Laughs) “He’s in Florida for the winter. I sent him an e-mail on Facebook, but I haven’t heard back. Maybe he doesn’t check his Facebook.

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank Governor LePage’s performance?

(Pauses) “I’d probably give him a four. I just think his priorities are out of whack…like going after the labor mural.”

Same scale for President Obama?

“I’d say a 7. No matter who won in 2008, it was a no-win situation for our economy, whether we elected a Republican or Democrat. I don’t think we would be any better off if John McCain had won. I think President Obama has done a decent job.”

Do you really think you can change the political dynamic of partisan bickering?

“Yes, but you have to start small. People used to say that women would never be able to vote. We used to say that a black man would never drive the bus. I believe things can change for the better. I think elected leaders just need to focus on working in collaboration to solve problems.

Original or extra crispy?

(Laughs) “Extra Crispy.”

Coke or Pepsi?

“Pepsi…Diet Pepsi.”

Ginger or Mary Anne?

“Mary Anne, for sure.. (Laughs)


3 thoughts on “Burnin’ down the house

  1. As the oldest cousin of the Dutremble Family, my mother was a Dutremble, and my Grandmother Dutremble raised me. I have firsthand experience witnessing the dedication and devotion the Dutremble Family has always given to the City of Biddeford, and I’m sure that the following generations of those who have served in public office were all in the honor of our Grandfather, Police Officer Honore Dutremble, who was shot and killed at point blank in 1933 by 2 car thieves, and gave his life to the City of Biddeford. His legacy is alive and well almost 80 years later! Blood is thicker than water! Good luck David.


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