Thursday, December 5, 2013
By TUX TURKEL
Donna Bendiksen House District 115
Michael Hiltz, House district 115
The winner of the three-way race in House District 115 will have big shoes to fill. House Speaker Glenn Cummings, a Democrat who held the seat representing Portland for eight years, has come up against term limits.
Now a Democrat candidate, Stephen Lovejoy, wants to replace Cummings in Augusta. So does a Republican, Donna Bendiksen, and a Green Party candidate, Michael Hiltz.
It's a race that presents very clear choices.
Lovejoy said his experience in banking and finance gives him the right tools to tackle the state's looming budget crisis.
''It's going to be a steep learning curve, but I think my background will help,'' he said.
Talking to residents, Lovejoy said he repeatedly hears concerns about jobs and the economy, but also pleas from parents to invest in education. The two are connected, Lovejoy said. To attract and retain knowledge-based employers, such as The Jackson Laboratory, Maine needs a well-educated work force.
''We cannot compete on inexpensive labor,'' he said.
Lovejoy also said Portland's legislative delegation needs to effectively push for changes in the state's school-funding formula that recognize the city's role as a service center, and the burden that puts on local taxpayers.
''The formula has gotten better,'' he said, ''but it needs to be tweaked some more.''
The city's legislative delegation also needs someone who will strongly support universal health care, tax reform and alternative energy, according to Hiltz. A nurse, Hiltz ran against Cummings in 2004, and his strong showing encouraged him to try again.
''I can bring a really progressive voice to the group,'' he said.
Hiltz also sees opportunities for economic development, but his focus is on renewable resources, such as wind and tidal power. ''The state has been horrible at attracting green economy jobs,'' he said.
The economy also is a top issue for Bendiksen, who describes herself as a conservative candidate and political activist.
''I want to offer a conservative solution of limited state government with increased local control,'' she said.
Increased local control, she said, can provide better services at lower costs, by cutting expensive administration. Bendiksen said she expects the federal financial bailout to weaken the value of the dollar and cause the cost of goods and services to rise. That will make it harder to balance the state budget, she said.
''Government needs to streamline down to the bare bones,'' she said.
Staff writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or
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Steve Lovejoy, candidate for House district 115.