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Friday, October 13, 2006

"House District 118: 2 Parties, 2 Progressive Agendas, 1 Race" by Peter Smith in the Portland Forecaster: October 4, 2006

PORTLAND – Republican candidate Benjamin Crocker withdrew in July from the Maine House of Representatives District 118 race, leaving incumbent Green Independent Rep. John Eder and Democrat Jon Hinck to battle for the representation of Portland’s West End.

Both describe their agendas as progressive. Eder, first elected in 2002, is counting on the continued support of constituents and his voting record, while challenger Hinck maintains his record as an environmental activist bests the incumbent’s performance.

John Eder

Eder, 37, has served two terms in the state Legislature as the nation’s top-elected Green Independent.

“It’s all about accomplishments,” Eder said. “I’ve brought hundreds of thousands of dollars to Portland.”

Before he became a first-time candidate in 2002, Eder worked as a citizen activist, a massage therapist and a home health-care aide. As a representative, he said he votes with the Democrats on “98 percent of issues” and comprises part of the “working majority.”

Eder supports initiatives for a living wage, universal health care and issues of social and economic justice.

“I’ve introduced legislation on tax reform,” Eder said. He supported tax rebates for rent and property, including a check-off on the state income tax.

“I’ve passed a bill on energy efficiency,” he said. The bill provided renters with a buyer-beware form on energy use.

In the upcoming session, Eder plans work on a $50,000 initiative for a creative economy.

“To me, a creative economy means supporting artists and the arts as they are an economic driver. That brings people into Portland.” Eder said initiatives would include micro-loans for individuals. “I think we need to get creative about getting people out of poverty,” he said.

He and his wife, Suzanne, live in the West End.

Jon Hinck

“For years, I’ve been involved in the environment,” Hinck said.

Before launching a campaign focused on green (with a lower-case “g”) issues, the Democrat worked for years with Greenpeace and lobbied in Augusta with the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “I’d like to join those making positive progressive policy,” he said.

Hinck said he supported laws controlling the disposal of mercury and electronic waste. A 2004 law defers the cost of recycling TV and electronic equipment to manufacturers nationwide. “It’s one of the few times Maine has figured how to take care of an issue without raising taxes,” Hinck said.

Besides his work as an environmental activist, Hinck is a lawyer who has worked on legal settlements involving Bayer’s Baycol, the gasoline-additive MBTE, and Maine’s class action suit against tobacco companies.

Hinck also has health care and energy reform high on his agenda. He supports the concept of Dirigo health plan and said he would make sure the Legislature devotes the attention needed in hopes of ultimately achieving universal care.

“I’d like to become one of the leaders aggressively pursuing energy issues,” he said. Hinck’s energy agenda includes increased energy efficiency, energy independence, and fiscal security along with wind and other renewable energy resources.

Hinck said his background (as a lawyer and as an environmental advocate) is “clearly” superior to his opponent’s.

“The incumbent has fashioned himself as an outsider,” Hinck said, “but he sends legislative communications - his campaign message - on taxpayer money.”

He lives in the West End with his wife, Juliet Browne, an environmental lawyer, and 9-year-old daughter, Darcy.

Peter Smith can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 126 or

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