The Phoenix endorses...

Elections 2012
By PORTLAND PHOENIX STAFF  |  October 31, 2012

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DION FOR HOUSE 113

A strong voice of reason on many issues, former Cumberland County sheriff Mark Dion is a solid supporter of medical-marijuana access, providing a powerful law-enforcement perspective that is credible because of his experience and his depth of thought about the larger issues at hand. An informed and deliberate legislator, Dion is a credit to his district, and to Maine.

STUCKEY FOR HOUSE 114

While his opponent has said he'll follow the governor's lead on policy, Peter Stuckey has a history of thinking for himself, and representing his constituents' needs, such as social-services spending and help with higher education. He's also in the vanguard of looking at ways to curb the cost of incarceration not by budget-slashing but by examining sentencing guidelines for certain low-grade crimes, such as drug possession.

BERNER FOR HOUSE 115

Both Seth Berner and Erik Jorgensen are impressive candidates with different strengths. Berner, a longtime peace activist, Green Independent, and lawyer, is a passionate advocate for the poor, the disenfranchised, and children; his campaign website overflows with treatises on healthcare, taxes, and "people power." Jorgensen, on the other hand, has a more pragmatic approach — after more than a decade working with the non-profit Maine Humanities Council, he's able to rattle off specific policy proposals and he might be taken more seriously in Augusta. Still, in this age of plastic politicians, we're more attracted to rough-around-the-edges Berner, of whose convictions we can always be certain.

FARNSWORTH FOR HOUSE 117

Richard Farnsworth may suggest that there no longer exist cost savings to be had in the state's budget — that we've cut all we can (we disagree). You might also quibble with his reluctance to increase taxes on the wealthy separately from a full state-tax overhaul. But in a race where the alternative is clear (and unappealing), a public-education supporter who knows his way around Augusta is the guy to vote for, even if you have to hold your nose to do it.

MACMILLAN FOR HOUSE 118

As a progressive Green partier and Portland native with deep roots in his community, Tom MacMillan is well situated to serve his West End district, and to bring a principled, fresh voice to Augusta. Of particular note is his co-authorship of a resolution — approved by the city council in January — calling on members of Maine's congressional delegation to support an amendment to the US Constitution abolishing corporate personhood. Practically, the resolution had little effect, but symbolically, on this and many issues, MacMillan's allegiances are clearly with the 99 percent.

CHIPMAN FOR HOUSE 119

Ben Chipman is a startlingly effective independent legislator in Augusta who works hard for his Portland constituents. He's fiercely defended endangered General Assistance and Clean Elections funds (with varying degrees of success), and he sponsored a bill to improve high school students' financial literacy (signed by the governor in May) — a sure win for young people in his Parkside-Bayside district and beyond. He's a solid voice of progressive reason; endorsements from groups like the Maine State Employees Union and the Maine Nurses Association indicate public confidence that this rogue representative could make a difference on important issues.

RUSSELL FOR HOUSE 120

The leading elected progressive in Maine state politics deserves another term. Diane Russell is willing to challenge not just the opposition (a rare-enough quality in a Maine Democrat) but even her own party when it's exhibiting its all-too-frequent disconnected-doormat qualities. A breath of fresh air and energy in a calcified system, Russell represents her constituents, and all Mainers, with zeal and passion.

ALFOND FOR SENATE 8

We respect Asher Platts's energy and ideas -- a lot. But the fact is, Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond is a strong progressive who hasn't yet lost our trust. Alfond has worked hard to expand educational opportunities for Mainers and to boost Democrats' reputation as job-generators, as with his proposed "public-private entrepreneurs fund" that includes living-wage and health-care requirements. We're lucky to have such visible representation in Augusta, and that's leverage we want to maintain.

HASKELL FOR SENATE 9

After many years in the State House (representing both Portland and Gorham), Anne Haskell has proved herself to be an advocate for a better, more comprehensive health-care system. We admire her support for hospice care in prisons, for single-payer health-care, and for restoring cuts to MaineCare. We're intrigued by her proposal to create a worldwide market for GMO-free salmon right here in Maine. Her combination of experience and compassion leaves little doubt that Haskell has earned her spot in the state senate.

DONOGHUE FOR CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 1

Kevin Donoghue has a tendency to get lost in process at times, such as when he failed to understand the city's efforts to negotiate with OccupyMaine so the protesters could stay in Lincoln Park. However, over the past six years he has proved a solid thinker on transportation and housing. And his online efforts at transparency point the way to improved government-constituent communications (despite being thin on details like cost to taxpayers and amount of effort he invested).

MARSHALL FOR CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 2

The rare councilor who stood up for Occupy, and who stands up in general to ridiculous city rules (are we seriously back talking about artists on sidewalks again?!), Dave Marshall understands the community he serves and embraces its bizarreness and apparent contradictions. He's progressive without being unfriendly to business (though he knows actual humans come first), and unafraid of raising big ideas despite troubled times. (Can you say streetcar?)

LYONS FOR CITY COUNCIL AT-LARGE

Wells Lyons clearly wants this post. While we could make snarky conclusions about his sanity as a result, we'll skip that and support an earnest, energetic young man who seems so determined to serve the city that he's apparently trying to knock on every door Portland has. He's progressive, intelligent, principled, and has his head screwed on straight when it comes to taxpayer handouts to corporations (namely, that they should come with strict rules, or even a guarantee of local benefit). Portland needs a wingman for Mayor Mike Brennan, to really push forward efforts to bring our community a brighter future. Lyons, don't let us down.

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