Charles Skold, the former chair of the Portland Democratic City Committee, and Susanne Robins, a curriculum designer with elected experience in California, are vying for the Democratic nomination for House District 119 representing part of Portland.

The seat, which is in a heavily Democratic district, is held by Democrat Mike Sylvester, who is not seeking re-election.

Robins, 62, said her experience, which includes various jobs in education and serving as a school board member and on a chamber of commerce board in California, will allow her to be an effective legislator.

“I offer experience in governance,” she said. “I offer experience in leadership and a wide variety of professional experiences that enable me to look towards partnerships and see a variety of perspectives when I look at an issue.”

Skold, meanwhile, pointed to his community activism, as well as his perspective as a young, gay renter who moved back to the state after college, as reasons voters should cast their ballots for him.

“I have a unique perspective and record of local activism and I think that sets me apart,” said the 32-year-old. “These are perspectives that people in Portland find valuable and want represented.”


Both candidates said they would fight to protect a woman’s right to an abortion, protect LGBTQ rights and correct racial inequities.

The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 14, but absentee voting is already underway.

The winner will face Portland resident Peter Doyle in the fall election. Doyle is running unopposed for the Republican nomination.


Robins said she has been interested in running for office ever since she and her husband moved to Portland in 2017, believing that her experience as a teacher, curriculum designer for public and corporate clients, elected school official and chamber of commerce board member in Culver City, California, would be useful in finding compromises among groups with varying opinions.

Susanne Robins

In Culver City, she was part of a successful effort to create a sort of high school-to-workforce pipeline. That effort, she said, involved reaching out to area businesses to learn about their workforce needs and then creating a pathway for high school graduates to gain the skills needed for those jobs at local community colleges or universities.


That program helped fill a need for set builders and lighting and sounds designers at Sony Studios, she said, saying Maine has a similar opportunity when it comes to the bio-tech industry, or helping to integrate asylum-seekers into the community.

“There are places within that kind of a model to connect the two ends of the political spectrum to find something that fits the needs of the business and the student,” she said.

The Munjoy Hill resident expressed strong support for guaranteeing a women’s right to an abortion and other reproductive health services, as well as LGBTQ rights, in light of the leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

She’s also on ensuring the Legislature continues to address climate change by following the state’s Maine Won’t Wait climate action plan and Portland and South Portland’s joint One Climate Future plan.

She’d also like to see a training program for asylum seekers while they await work authorization from the federal government, which can take over a year. As they wait, they could be trained in green economy jobs, ranging from upgrading insulation in old houses to learning how to install solar panels or build wind turbines. This could be done, she said, by working with any grant-funded organization in these fields.

She would also like the state to play a bigger role in helping asylum seekers and other people experiencing homelessness.


“It’s just not fair for the state to expect Portland to bear this burden alone,” she said. “I am hopeful our delegation can come together and present a unified force.”


Skold, who grew up in Freeport and moved to Portland in 2018, said he is running for office because the state is facing “existential threats” such as climate change, a shortage of affordable housing and inequality.

Charles Skold

“I really feel like we’re in a fight for our future,” Skold said. “I’m running to do what I can and to be Portland’s strongest advocate on climate, housing and on the continuing need to fight for our equality.”

As a renter in downtown Portland, Skold would like to see more state-level protections and support for tenants. One idea is an opt-in form of rent control, where landlords could tap into state funding to maintain or renovate units, as long as they agree to keep the units at an affordable rate for a certain period of time, possibly five to 10 years.

He’d also like to see more money devoted to help local renters become first-time homebuyers by helping them come up with a down payment. Skold said he’s not wedded to a certain amount, but it would have to be “meaningful,” possibly $10,000. Such a program could make local renters more competitive in bidding against out-of-state homebuyers, who are gobbling up supply and driving up prices.


“People moving to Maine is a good thing,” he said, “but we also want to make sure that we’re helping the people who have already been contributing to their communities.”

Regarding climate change, Skold said Maine is a leader in planning for the future, but he’d like the state to be more aggressive in upgrading the electrical grid to accommodate solar energy and investing in wind power. He also views conserving land as helping combat climate change.

To generate revenue for some of his proposals, Skold said he would first look to federal funding sources and any state surpluses. He would advocate for new taxes – one targeting Mainers in the top 1 percent income bracket and others targeting second/third homes and short-term lodging. The revenue from the local option short-term lodging tax could be used to help fund affordable housing, he said.

Skold said he would be a strong advocate for equality, which he said is needed since the Maine Republican Party recently adopted a more extreme anti-LGBTQ platform. He sees racial equity as part of the same struggle.

“The advances we have made in equal rights are being threatened and we need people who will fight for them,” he said.

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