State Rep. Karl Ward, R-Dedham, announced Feb. 26 that he is running for re-election in House District 131, which includes Orland, Dedham, Otis, Penobscot, Verona Island, Prospect and Stockton Springs.

Ward is serving his second term and sits on the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation. He won his first term by defeating Democrat and former State Rep. Veronica Magnan and was re-elected in 2016 over Democrat Dorothy Caldwell.

Ward is president and CEO of Nickerson & O'Day, one of the largest contractors in the state. He is past chairman of the EMCC President's Advisory Board, past trustee at John Bapst Memorial High School, and past chairman of the Bangor Region Leadership Institute.

He currently serves in an industrial advisory capacity in the University of Maine College of Engineering, where he taught for more than a decade and previously graduated summa cum laude as valedictorian. Ward has been inducted into the UMaine Distinguished Engineers Society and serves on the board of governors for the WLBZ's 2 Those Who Care Awards.

"I was raised by a mother born during the Depression in a log cabin in the north Maine woods and a father who left high school to serve in World War II," Ward said. "Together they built a successful business, kept a roof over our heads and food on the table. I was the first in our family to go to college and worked my way through with the ethic they taught me. I bring that approach to my work serving the good people of my seven towns and will continue to do so."

Ward self-funds nearly all his campaign costs, eschewing lobbyist, PAC or taxpayer money.

"By paying out of my pocket, folks can know that no one owns my vote but them," he said.

He also donates all of his legislative pay back to his towns in youth-centered ways, including several scholarships, school equipment and capital improvement projects and playgrounds. Ward's explanation is simple: "My goal is to leave our kids better than I found them."

In his first two terms, Ward authored several bills including the "Right to Try Bill," providing access to potentially lifesaving drugs to terminally ill Mainers; the "Blue Lives Matter Bill," stiffening penalties for assaults on law enforcement; and the notable "Cold Case Homicide Squad Bill," intended to solve more cases like the Joyce McLain murder trial that just brought a conviction.

A Maine native, he has been married 31 years to Dr. Kathy Ward who owns Penobscot Eye Care in Brewer. Together, they have made their home in Dedham for 25 years, where they have raised three children, Katie, Ryan and Braeden, who will all be college students this fall.