AUGUSTA – The first forum of the campaign season will be held Friday in Rockland as four of the five candidates for governor participate in the Island & Coastal Issues Gubernatorial Candidates’ Forum hosted by the Island Institute.

The Island Institute is a Rockland-based nonprofit that advocates on behalf of Maine’s island communities.

The candidates will be asked to talk about alternative energy, fisheries, affordable housing and education, according to the institute’s Web site.

The Democratic nominee, Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell of Vassalboro, will be joined by independents Eliot Cutler of Cape Elizabeth, Shawn Moody of Gorham and Kevin Scott of Andover.

Waterville Mayor Paul LePage, the Republican nominee, has a scheduling conflict and will not be able to attend, said John Morris, LePage’s campaign chief of staff. But Morris noted that LePage has agreed to about 25 other debates and forums that are scheduled to begin in earnest after Labor Day.

Don Carrigan of WCSH-TV will moderate Friday’s event, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Strand Theatre in Rockland. The event is free and open to the public.

TEACHERS GIVE NOD TO A GREEN

Green Independent Senate candidate Lynne Williams of Bar Harbor has been endorsed by the Maine Education Association in her race for Senate District 28.

That’s a three-way race in coastal Hancock County where Williams will face Democrat Jim Schatz of Blue Hill and Republican Brian Langley of Ellsworth.

Williams had announced a run for governor, but dropped out after she failed to qualify for public financing and could not get the required number of signatures.

In a news release, Williams, an attorney, said the backing from educators gives her a boost in the Senate race.

“Much of my practice is special-education law, and I am always particularly impressed with those whose calling is working with children,” she said.

BITTER SOLUTION EASY TO SWALLOW

Three years ago, Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, sponsored a bill to try to protect animals from being poisoned by antifreeze.

And now that other Northeastern states have followed suit, the law in Maine can finally take effect.

Cain’s bill requires that a bittering agent be added to engine coolant or antifreeze to make it less attractive to animals. But when the bill passed, Maine agreed it would not take effect until three other nearby states passed similar legislation so that it wouldn’t be as burdensome to industry.

Since then, Vermont, New Jersey and Massachusetts have passed similar bills.

“This is a perfect example of how policy can be crafted to solve a serious problem without creating an undue burden,” Cain said.

BILL SEEKS VOTER VERIFICATION

Rep. Rich Cebra, R-Naples, has submitted legislation that would require all voters to show a photo ID at the polls before getting a ballot.

“Maine has always relied on the honor system when it comes to voting, and I wish we could continue to do so,” Cebra said. “Unfortunately, the world has changed and voter fraud has become a fact of life.”

Currently, eight states require voters to produce valid photo identification, such as a state-issued license or ID card, a military identification card, a U.S. passport, a student ID, or a photo ID issued by a federal agency, according to the House Republican Office.

MSEA ENDORSES AUGUSTA REP

The Maine State Employees Association has endorsed Rep. Patsy Crockett, D-Augusta, in her bid for the Senate District 24 seat.

“These are hard-working families who do so very much to see that our state is run efficiently and effectively, they also contribute a great deal to our small business by supporting merchants in the district,” Crockett said in a news release.

A spokesman for the state employees union said the organization has not decided who — if anyone — it will endorse in the governor’s race.

ABSENTEE BALLOT SITE WORKING

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap recently announced that the Online Absentee Ballot Request Service for the November election is now available.

The service has been enhanced to comply with federal law and changes to state law that make it easier for all Maine citizens to submit electronic requests for an absentee ballot, whether they live in Maine or are stationed in the military.

The Secretary of State’s Office has designed a new web page containing more information about this program: http://bit.ly/9GHm86.

CONFIRMATION HEARINGS SET

Lawmakers on certain committees will return to Augusta for confirmation hearings this week and next as the Legislature prepares for the Senate confirmation session Aug. 25.

Here’s a look at what committees will be in this week:

The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday for hearings on appointees to the University of Maine System board of trustees, Maine Maritime Academy, the commissioner of the Department of Education, the state Board of Education and the Maine Community College System board of trustees. The hearings will take place in Room 202 of the Cross State Office Building.

Also Wednesday, the Transportation Committee will be in at 10 a.m. to consider nominees for the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and the Maine Turnpike Authority. The hearing will take place in Room 126 of the State House. 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

[email protected]