Among the new mayor's responsibilities will be increasing energy efficiency in city buildings, managing and advocating for local alternative transit priorities, and setting an example regarding eco-friendliness. Many of the 15 mayoral candidates have touted their intentions to promote weatherization, local foods and farming, and to reduce the city's reliance on foreign oil. In a city like Portland, where our proximity to nature and our support of sustainable infrastructure sets us apart, the first elected mayor must be committed to going green.
So, what have the contenders done to improve their personal eco-profile? We asked them: What is the top thing you do or have done to reduce your carbon footprint? (See "Who Will Be Mayor?" for more about the candidates.) Their answers are below.
CHARLES BRAGDON Walking whenever I can.
MICHAEL BRENNAN My house recently had a total energy audit. New windows, a new roof, and switching from oil to natural gas have all greatly reduced my family's energy use. And as a state senator I was proud to sponsor legislation to increase Maine's utilization of renewable energy sources by 10 percent, and to promote the use of low-emission vehicles.
PETER BRYANT Never using paper plates, etc.
RALPH CARMONA My wife and I went from two cars to one and I do a lot of my business on foot.
RICHARD DODGE Ride motorcycles.
JILL DUSON During the summer months, I commute downtown by bicycle a couple of days per week and commit to two carless weekends per month. I support the summer and winter farmers' markets, buying food that has not been shipped across the country or around the world.
JOHN EDER I walk, bike and jog most everywhere.
HAMZA HAADOOW Encourage reuse [as Assistant Sustainability and Recycling Manager at Goodwill of Northern New England].
JODIE LAPCHICK Keep our home heat at around 50 degrees and use space heaters as needed. We've been able to reduce our oil consumption by two-thirds.
DAVE MARSHALL Walking, biking, and using public transportation daily.
NICK MAVODONES I have downsized my vehicle from a minivan that got 17 MPG to a Honda Civic that gets 34 MPG.
MARKOS MILLER Bike or home weatherization.
JED RATHBAND Since announcing my candidacy, I've cut down on driving as I never need to go beyond the borders of Portland; Isa also has me on a food kick that includes a meat-free diet, and we buy locally-grown produce whenever possible.
ETHAN STRIMLING Bought a hybrid automobile.
CHRIS VAIL The home we purchased was built in 1852 so we have tried to work on home improvements to increase heating efficiency.
• Speaking of politics and sustainability, Democratic US Representative CHELLIE PINGREE introduced the "Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act" at Jordan Farm in Cape Elizabeth this week. The bill is a package of agricultural reforms that would encourage increased local-food production, distribution, and consumption in the United States. Pingree's proposal is part of the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization, which happens every four or five years. As the country's major agricultural legislation, the Farm Bill (which has been called the "food bill" because of its sweeping influence in that realm) offers a vehicle to make serious progress on environmental, nutritional, and small-business fronts. It fell far short of those goals in 2008; let's hope Pingree's act can make the difference next year.
Deirdre Fulton can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.