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Friday, October 13, 2006

District 117 a 3-Way Toss-Up

PORTLAND – With Rep. Joseph Brannigan running for state Senate, the House District 117 seat representing neighborhoods in the Rosemont and Stroudwater sections of the city is up for grabs.

For the Democratic Party, Anne Haskell is on the ballot after moving back to her hometown. Haskell is a former state representative from Gorham, where she served from 1988 to 1994 when she was Anne Larrabee. She is retired.

Haskell’s Green Independent Party opponent, John Safarik, is also retired. He ran for office two years ago and said he believes it is his civic obligation to run again.

Republican candidate David Pelletier was reached for comment once, but was unable to provide any information at that time. He did not return subsequent telephone calls.

Anne Haskell

Haskell, 63, lives in the home she grew up in on Higgins Street and married Lou Haskell two years ago. She has two grown children and he has four.

A former Finance Authority of Maine communications manager and head of the Maine International Trade Center, Haskell graduated from Deering High School and attended the University of Southern Maine.

She is opposed to TABOR and calls the bill a “meat-ax approach to a complex issue.”

Haskell said she is running for office again because she enjoyed working in the House before and feels she has something to offer to her neighbors.

She said her time representing Gorham gave her an understanding of suburban concerns, which provides a nice contrast with her understanding of Portland’s urban concerns.

Haskell is interested in supporting higher education through loan repayment for college graduates. She said loan repayment is better than loan forgiveness, because with the latter, students often need to decide a career path as a college freshman. With loan repayment, the benefit would come after graduation.

Haskell is also a supporter of improving the juvenile justice system and said the state should concentrate on helping offenders early, so they can function as adults in regular society.

“It is something that needs advocates,” Haskell said.

John Safarik

Safarik, 69, lives on Ivy Street with his wife, Sharon. He worked in various information technology jobs, including as a software developer.

Safarik said the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is “a good example of what we shouldn’t do in general.”

He said he did not want to rely on the future needs of the state by a simple algorithm, and believes people should rely on the representatives they elect.

Safarik, who holds a doctorate in political philosophy from the University of Oklahoma, would like the state to encourage businesses to use environmental concerns to their advantage.

“We need not to look at these issues as constraining,” he said.

Safarik would also like a process put in place where adults can re-educate themselves. He said a good liberal arts degree is a start.

“Being trained for the obsolete is never ending,” he said. “One way to lessen that is to educate people so they can update themselves easily.”

Safarik is in favor of a universal health care system.

“A healthy population is a more productive population,” he said.

Sustaining public transportation is also a priority for Safarik. He said a mass transit fund should be set up and people should be encouraged to use buses and even trains to travel.

“There are some fragments left of public transportation,” he said.

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

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