October 12, 2011

John Eder: Focusing on help for the working-class

Affordable housing is a centerpiece of his campaign, and he pledges to start construction of 1,000 units.

By Jason Singer jsinger@pressherald.com
Assistant City Editor / Online

(Continued from page 1)

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JOHN EDER
PARTY AFFILIATION:
Green Independent
AGE: 42
ADDRESS: 101 Gray St.
PERSONAL: Married to Suzanne Kahn Eder
EDUCATION: Some college
OCCUPATION: Works with alcoholics and drug addicts at group homes
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Maine state representative, 2002-2006. Cumberland County Charter Commission, 2008; chairman, Portland Green Independent Committee, 2010
WEBSITE: Facebook, John Eder for Mayor; www.johneder.org

TOP PRIORITIES
• Build 1,000 units of affordable housing in Bayside
• Push health care reforms to lower costs for small businesses
• Invest in an electrical grid that will capture local, alternative-energy generation to lower costs and increase sustainability
• Push a regional electricity plan, so Portland and surrounding communities can share costs

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

JOHN EDER will answer questions from Press Herald readers during an hour-long live chat with the candidate at 3 p.m. today. Go to www.pressherald.com to participate.

Editor's note: This is the third of 15 daily profiles of Portland's mayoral candidates, paired with online chats.

Eder's mayoral opponents have criticized some of his ideas. Charles Bragdon said Metro can't run efficiently with the few riders who use it now, so adding high school students to the ridership and expecting the buses to get them to school on time is impractical.

Some city officials noted that the city has used tax breaks to encourage affordable housing, for projects on Marginal Way and Stevens Avenue. City Councilors Nicholas Mavodones and David Marshall also said housing projects must meet very specific criteria to earn tax increment financing.

"I don't think a blanket policy for housing (tax breaks) is appropriate," Mavodones said. "You have to look at it on a case-by-case basis and make sure there's an economic benefit for the public."

In some ways, Eder represents the American Dream, a man who "pulled himself up by the bootstraps," as one supporter said recently at a mayoral forum.

As a 15-year-old in Brooklyn, Eder said, he fled a physically abusive and alcoholic father and spent time homeless, sleeping on the New York City streets.

In his 20s, he lived a nomadic lifestyle, moving from city to city and state to state. He eventually settled in Portland, he said, because he fell in love with the politically engaged, community-focused atmosphere.

His experience with his father eventually led him to become a mental-health technician. He now works with alcoholics and drug addicts at group homes in Portland.

In some ways, Eder also represents the current American experience. He has a family, works two jobs and goes to school. He fights for the middle class, he said, because he's one of them and understands their plight.

The artists who built Portland's creative economy often work two jobs, he said, and many still can't afford to live in the downtown they helped build.

"We need someone who will stick up for working people of this city and will talk about their issues," he said. "That's why I'm running."

Staff Writer Jason Singer can be contacted at 791-6437 or at: jsinger@pressherald.com

 

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