South Portland City Councilor Brad Fox, a Democrat, is challenging freshman Republican Rep. Kevin Battle on Nov. 8 for the House District 33 seat, representing part of South Portland.

Despite their party differences, the candidates have similar views on proposals to eliminate the income tax, raise the minimum wage and require background checks for private gun sales.

Battle, 58, is the harbor master of Portland Harbor and a retired South Portland police officer. He received $5,500 in state funding via the Maine Clean Election Act and had spent $2,782 through Sept. 20, including web-based advertising, magnetized vehicle signs and signs on city buses, according to campaign finance reports.

Fox, 68, is a substitute teacher and a retired school principal. He received $650 in private contributions and loaned $750 of his own money to the campaign, but he reported no expenditures through the same period.

Though Battle is a registered Republican, he said he has always considered himself to be “an independent” at heart and has tried to demonstrate that he’s not a “puppet” of the Republican Party.

“I listened to my constituents, read the bills and voted the way I thought was best,” Battle said in response to a Portland Press Herald survey. “I approached each issue, bill and topic presented with an open mind and will continue to do so.”

Battle said he’s seeking re-election because he believes he can do a lot for his constituents.

“I learned a lot during my first term, now is the time to put what I learned to work for us,” Battle said. “I have no agenda or ax to grind. I listened to my constituents and worked hard for them with a common-sense approach. I presented myself as open minded and friendly and worked well with people on both sides of the aisle.”

Battle said he opposes Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s effort to lower and eventually eliminate the state income tax, in part by broadly increasing state sales taxes. “I think it puts unfair burden on lower income people,” he said.

Battle also said he supports November ballot initiatives that would require criminal background checks for privately sold firearms, increase the minimum hourly wage to $12 by 2020 and legalize marijuana for recreational use. He said Maine needs to do more to fight its drug crisis, including education and prevention efforts, and more support and treatment programs.

Fox described himself as a life-long progressive Democrat who supported Bernie Sanders and now fully supports Hillary Clinton for president. In his survey response, Fox was highly critical of both Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and LePage, saying that the latter should resign or be removed from office.

“I won’t mince words here, as many politicians do,” Fox said. “I’ll work hard on the issues that South Portland residents care about: quality education, protecting our environment and our health and safety, and keeping our property tax burden low.”

Fox said Maine needs to create the space for innovative businesses and industries with new technologies to develop. He also wants to resubmit last session’s solar bill, which he said is “vitally important to Maine’s energy future,” and noted that he supports South Portland’s proposed solar energy farm on its former landfill.

On the November ballot initiatives, Fox said he supports ranked-choice voting, background checks for private gun sales, the proposed minimum wage increase and the proposed 3 percent tax on household incomes over $200,000 to support public schools. He said he supports legalizing marijuana for recreational use and believes the state must increase treatment programs to address the heroin and opiate crisis.

Fox also said he opposes the governor’s effort to eliminate the income tax, saying that it would push up property and sales taxes and unfairly burden lower- and middle-income people.

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 9:13 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2016 to clarify Brad Fox’s stance on marijuana legalization.


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