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Friday, October 13, 2006

"District 115 Challengers Stand in Cummings' Leadership Path" by Kate Bucklin in the Portland Forecaster: October 11, 2006

PORTLAND – There is a three-way race in House District 115, where incumbent Rep. Glenn Cummings faces challengers from the left and right.

Running on the Republican ticket, political newcomer Melinda Loring admitted she is not a natural politician and said she is running in part to try and keep Maine affordable.

Green Independent Party candidate Murrough O’Brien said he is sick of both of the major parties running things in Augusta and believes the Greens would bring new ideas to the Legislature.

Cummings, meanwhile, is positioned to be elected speaker of the House if he is re-elected.

District 115 includes the neighborhoods of Woodford’s Corner and Back Cove.

Glenn Cummings

Cummings, 45, is the House majority leader and is seeking a fourth term in the Legislature. A Nevens Street resident, Cummings lives with his wife, Leslie Appelbaum, and their two children.

“TABOR endangers public safety and education,” Cummings said of the citizen-initiated Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

A strong opponent of the bill, Cummings said the state needs to work on alternative reform for the tax code and for spending that supports small business and working families.

Cummings is a professor of economics and entrepreneurship at Southern Maine Community College and said the state needs more people to attend and complete college and other higher education programs.

“To do that we need to make it affordable,” the graduate of Brown and Harvard universities said. “Lower tuition at community colleges.”

He said increasing skill level will also increase high paying jobs in Maine, which will boost the economy.

Investing in research and development of the state’s infrastructure and of open space are also important to Cummings.

Melinda Loring

Unlike her opponents, Melinda Loring is a strong supporter of TABOR. A professional actuary, Loring said the proposal is a good way to get state spending under control.

“I think it is a very reasonable way to deal with a very big problem in Maine,” the Bates College graduate said.

Loring, who declined to provide her age, lives on Concord Street and has two teenage sons.

The average citizen does not get heard in state government, Loring said. She said her main reason for running is she is tired of complaining.

“At some point you need to step up and do something,” she said.

Loring said she would like her sons to be able to stay in Maine when they grow up, and that means the economy needs to be stronger and so does the job pool.

Murrough O’Brien

O’Brien, 61, joined the Green Party six years ago because he was tired of the Democratic Party. An attorney and Portland native, he said he would like to see politicians spend less time being divisive.

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, O’Brien said, is a “simple-minded mechanical solution to a complex problem.”

“I would vote against it,” O’Brien, a graduate of Harvard University and Maine Law School, said. “It obviously resonates with a lot of people though.”

A Concord Street resident, O’Brien acknowledged he is running against a very popular incumbent. He also admitted his priorities in Augusta would be vastly different than most representatives’.

“Global warming is the most important issue,” said O’Brien, who has two grown children with his wife, Johanna. “Other issues won’t matter if we don’t deal with climate change.”

O’Brien said a lot can be done at the local and state level to take on global warming, and not just energy conservation efforts. He said the Baldacci administration did little to make the environment a priority, and at a world level the United States refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty.

“The glaciers are melting and polar bears are beginning to drown,” O’Brien said. “I would be a full-time irritant on the subject of global warming.”

O’Brien would also like to have the state Department of Environmental Protection audited, along with taking a serious look at the state Department of Health and Human Services, which he said is letting people down.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or

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