Two South Portland activists are seeking the Democratic nomination for the House District 32 seat in the June 12 primary election.

Christopher Kessler, a building energy auditor who founded the South Portland Tenants Association, is running against Richard Rottkov, a teacher and longtime leader of the South Portland Land Trust.

They’re vying for a seat that’s been held for six years by Scott Hamann, a Democrat who isn’t seeking a fourth term after he experienced a public backlash for posting an anti-President Trump rant on social media last July.

District 32 represents part of South Portland and a sliver of Cape Elizabeth. The winner of the Democratic nomination will run against Republican Tammy Walter of Cape Elizabeth in November.

Both Kessler and Rottkov are running as publicly funded Clean Election candidates. According to the latest campaign finance reports, Kessler had raised and spent $1,000 in seed money contributions for a candidate event, campaign mailers and other supplies; and Rottkov had raised $797 in seed money and spent $765 on yard signs, palm cards and Facebook promotions.

Kessler, 35, said he would be a strong advocate for income equality, environmental protection and renewable energy to increase efficiency and slow climate change.

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“I’ve always thought that we need to be the change that we want to see in the world,” Kessler said. “I’m tired of waiting for those things and I know I could have an impact in Augusta.”

Kessler said he’s always been an activist and community organizer, noting his volunteer efforts to fight crippling student loan debt, promote affordable housing development, gather signatures to block tar sands oil from coming into the city and maintain buildings and trails for the South Portland Land Trust.

“I’ve been out on the front lines, doing things,” Kessler said. “I’m not going to be a rank-and-file representative. I’ll be putting full energy toward making progress happen.”

Kessler said he also supports publicly funded health care for all Mainers as a human right, universal pre-kindergarten and community college, and experienced-based learning.

Rottkov, 64, said he’s running because he hopes to bring an end to the obstructionist government and inability to compromise that have taken hold of the Legislature under Gov. Paul LePage.

“I’m a consensus-builder and I think I can work with the other side,” Rottkov said. “I’m committed to closing the partisan divide. It prevents problems from being solved. I’m glad LePage is leaving. My sense is Republicans will be freer to compromise and get things done without him there.”

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Rottkov said he believes government is important and should help people, which is why he’s active on the city’s Open Space and Community Development Advisory committees. He supports the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid until a universal, single-payer health care system is in place.

“In the modern era, the greatest country in the world should be able to come up with a health care program that helps everyone,” Rottkov said.

Rottkov said he would work to develop a “green economy” geared toward increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy sources that will create jobs and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

He also supports free public education, from early childhood through community college, “rational gun legislation that makes schools safer,” and the organic, Maine-grown movement.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KelleyBouchard


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