PORTLAND — After 10 non-consecutive years serving in the Statehouse, most recently as District 37 representative, Richard Farnsworth is giving up his seat. Two city residents, Jim Cloutier and Grayson Lookner, are vying for the Democratic nomination.

House District 37 includes the Libbytown, Nasons Corner, Rosemont and Stroudwater neighborhoods in Portland. The primary election will be held July 14.

Cloutier or Lookner will face Republican Jane Frey in the fall. Green Party member John Warren Safarik is mounting a write-in campaign for the seat.

“I’ve been telling (Farnsworth) for years, as soon as you are ready to retire, let me know,” said Cloutier, an attorney at Cloutier, Conley & Duffett. “I’ve been practicing law for more than 40 years and am looking for a change.”

Lookner, an activist and community organizer, said after being involved in other people’s campaigns, he is ready to embark on his own.

“I moved back here in 2014 and got involved in politics,” Lookner said. “I really think the Legislature typically lacks young people and working people. We need representatives – I don’t see it at the state or municipal levels – who are fighting for young people.”

Lookner said if elected he would like to focus on housing: finding more affordable housing for Mainers, investing more in public housing and addressing short-term rental regulations on a state level.

“We look at housing as a commodity to be bought and sold when in reality it is a basic human necessity,” he said.

Cloutier, who served as a city councilor from 1998 to 2007 and has been a county commissioner since 2008, said he is ready to bring his municipal, regional and county governing experience to Augusta to focus on renewable energy.

“One of my big interests in the Legislature, before the coronavirus issue hit, was environmentally benign, environmentally sustainable energy and economic development, particularly wind development,” Cloutier said. “There is no question climate improvement and climate change reversal or at least stalling, will have a dramatic impact on Maine.”

Lookner agrees climate change should be a focus of the Legislature, particularly when it comes to curbing sea level rise.

Cloutier feels the state has done a good job responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

“The economic situation is one where we are going to be less than what we have been for at least a year and even after a vaccine is widely available,” he said.

Lookner said Gov. Janet Mills “took a good approach early on,” but in the last week has begun to give in to business interests.

“At this moment in time, we continue to need an abundance of caution,” he said. “It is too soon to open everything back up.”

 

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