| PORTLAND – Two political newcomers are challenging incumbent Rep. Herbert Adams in House District 119, representing the diverse Bayside and Parkside neighborhoods of Portland.|
Matt Reading, a Green Independent, and Jason Lavoie, a Republican, both newcomers to the district and politics, offer the veteran Democrat an additional reason to knock on doors this campaign season. The candidates present differing strategies on how to spur economic development.
Adams, 53, the Democratic incumbent, said the “energy and enthusiasm and experience that is reflected in my past record” would aid him in seeking another term.
Adams served on Portland’s School Committee, chaired the Cumberland County Democratic Committee and served five terms as a state representative in the Legislature.
Adams said two recent legislative achievements were a bill that connected schools and libraries with the Internet, an initiative that he says eliminated “technological haves and have-nots.” Adams also supported legislation that made Casco Bay a “No-Discharge Zone” with some of the strictest environmental laws.
Adams campaigns on what he calls his “doorstep issues.”
“There would be taxes in general,” he said, “the affordability of higher education, affordability of social services, and general consumer-oriented issues, such as the cost of cable TV.”
If re-elected, three items on Adams’ upcoming legislative agenda would be a version of the Opportunity Maine initiative, which proposed tax credits to repay tuition costs (“So we can keep talent in Maine”), $25 million for affordable housing (“$25 million is barely enough”), and $50 million for land (“So we can preserve the best of Maine’s national treasures for future Mainers”).
A resident of Parkside, Adams is a history buff who also teaches as an adjunct political science faculty member at USM.
“I’m running because I want to see Maine change its direction,” Lavioe said.
Lavoie, 22, a Republican, focuses his campaign on health care, jobs and taxes.
Lavoie wants to stimulate job growth. “It’s all about the economy,” he said. “That’s how we can make the economy work for Maine and for Portland.”
“I think that we need to get a handle on our high tax burden,” Lavioe said. “I think we need to make this a better place to do business.”
He said businesses ought to have a closer relationship with lawmakers and less involvement with social services. “Government is too far involved in health care,” Lavoie said. He envisions a privatized, “free market approach” to the state’s health care woes and hopes to offer Mainers out-of-state insurance options.
Lavoie, a student at the University of Southern Maine, serves on the USM student senate and attributes his leadership skills to coordinating a Boy Scout technology center. He lives in the dorms on Congress Street. His campaign is privately financed.
Lavoie considers himself a leader “who will stand up and want to bring jobs to Maine.”
Reading, 25, graduated from Lewiston-Auburn schools. Only three of his friends from high school have remained in the area, a trend he attributes to high taxes, few technology jobs and “little in the Legislature to counteract that.”
Reading, a relative newcomer to Portland, worked as an online fund-raiser with a nonprofit organization before turning to his campaign full time on the Green Independent ticket.
Working on John Eder’s 2003 House campaign inspired Reading. “He had a real passion for change in Portland,” Reading said, “and a real passion for action in Augusta.”
Affordable housing, a student loan reimbursement, and a universal health care system top Reading’s agenda.
“All of our economic development money currently goes to Wal-Mart and Home Depot,” Reading said. Targeted tax incentives, Reading said, would “keep the Maine dollar in Maine and make it easier for small businesses and to start small businesses.”
Reading is single. He lives in Bayside, across from the Public Works Department. “I know what’s going on with city services all hours of the day,” he said.
Peter Smith can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.