This fall two candidates who’ve never held public office – Eben Rose and Ernie Stanhope – will square off for the District 3 council seat in South Portland, which is being vacated by Melissa Linscott.

The Current asked each candidate the same series of questions and their responses follow:

Eben Rose

Age: 47

Occupation: Small business owner

Political Experience: A senator in student government at a community college; Service on a school bond oversight committee; and an activist in the local tar sands debate.

Q: Why are you running for a seat on the South Portland City Council?

A: I became engaged in local politics when the tar sands issue activated a civic awareness throughout the city in 2013. I am a geoscientist by training and felt I was able to lend a certain level of technical know-how to that exchange.

I contributed extensively to the deliberations that led to the Clear Skies Ordinance being passed and am absolutely thrilled to be in South Portland during this upwelling of civic engagement. I believe that I can make a positive contribution to our city as a councilor.

I am also familiar with our code of ordinances and the Comprehensive Plan, which incorporate forward-looking goals to help South Portland grow as a destination city, a desirable city and a green city.

I believe a good councilor does his or her homework in order to speak knowledgeably about issues, advocates relentlessly for the health, safety and welfare of the city’s inhabitants, and engages more people in the democratic process. I am a hard worker and will devote my energy to these tasks.

My wife and I are owners of a small business based in South Portland and I have no vested interest in city politics other than to help make our community better.

Q: What are the three biggest issues facing South Portland?

A: I believe that South Portland is well positioned to become a center for innovation and design as it transitions away from being a fossil fuel handling center.

There are many ways in which the city can invest in incubating innovative talent while simultaneously solving the environmental problems it faces. Ultimately the innovation economy I envision can evolve license agreements that will bring revenue into the city and alleviate the property tax burden on everyone.

A more immediate issue is the proposed propane terminal at Rigby Yard. Most folks are not aware that the initial proposal as reported last February posed an explosive potential that could devastate South Portland.

I have since been working with the city to help scale back this plan to safer levels. Our existing city laws go far in protecting the city’s inhabitants and we must ensure that our laws and officials enforcing those laws are robust guardians of our safety whenever dangerous developments like this one come to the city’s doorstep.

Sometimes the most important issues involve individual interactions with city officials. A good councilor will be your advocate in city government if ever there is a grievance or issue that you cannot resolve with city staff.

Q: Do you support the city’s recent sustainability efforts? If so, why? If not, why not?

A: South Portland’s Comprehensive Plan sets as a goal that the city will continue on its path toward becoming a Green City. Sustainability is a major part of what this means.

I applaud recent efforts to reduce and eliminate environmental pollutants like toxic pesticides and non-degradable plastic bags. These are all expressions of the Comprehensive Plan. But bans alone do not make a city green or sustainable.

Front-yard gardens and community gardens are sprouting up throughout the city. This is a very pragmatic way in which individuals can realize self-sufficiency, and the city can play a more active role in enabling these efforts.

The city can also orchestrate the development of energy micro-grids, which provide solar and wind-based power, and storage facilities at the scale of individual neighborhoods. Through such localized efforts, neighborhood identities can be enriched as they take local control over their energy future.

In summary, I support the sustainability efforts of the city because it encourages self-sufficiency, considers the inheritance of our children’s children and is already set forth as a goal in the Comprehensive Plan.

Ernie Stanhope

Age: 44

Occupation: Co-owner of Embers Stoves & Fireplaces

Political Experience: None

Q: Why are you running for a seat on the South Portland City Council?

A: I am running for the City Council because I believe that South Portland has shifted too far away from their businesses. They are starting to get a reputation as not being business friendly and I want to help rectify that. As a small business owner I believe I can help South Portland in that department. Business development means more jobs, more taxes brought in and more money spent locally.

Q: What are the three biggest issues facing South Portland?

A: The biggest issues in our town right now are:

1) That South Portland is no longer a business-friendly town. Too much time is being spent on environmental issues instead of business development; and

2) Poverty in this town is growing. Business development can help bring more jobs, which will help decrease these poverty levels.

Q: Do you support the city’s recent sustainability efforts? If so, why? If not, why not?

A: I do support the current sustainability efforts to a certain extent. The solar panels are a good idea because it will provide a clean source of energy and an eventual return on investment.

However, the 5-cent charge on single-use bags is a wrong idea. If the city of South Portland truly believes that single-use bags are horrible for the environment then I believe they should be banned.

I do believe in sustainability efforts as long as in doing so South Portland does not lose or alienate business growth. Losing Martins Point to Scarborough to protect a small piece of land for open space cost the town tax revenue. I do not support this type of decision because I find it counterproductive to sustaining the financial viability of South Portland.

Eben RoseErnie Stanhope


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