by Chris Shorr of the Portland Daily Sun
Before I begin, I'd like to encourage anyone reading this to question my endorsements, and to research the candidates and the issues on your own. My two cents might not even be worth that much to some people, but as someone who ran an (unsuccessful) underdog campaign for city council last year, I know how important this sort of thing is for local campaigns, and even though sometimes I still wonder how I even wound up in the position to be able to express myself on this sort of platform, I'm honored to be able to offer up my support for some candidates that I'm really excited about, and some issues that I'm really passionate about.
The race for State Senate in District 27 between incumbent Justin Alfond (D), Peter Doyle (R) and Asher Platts (G). It's important to note that in the last race for this seat the Republican candidate finished with about 50 votes, so this is more of a race between Alfond and Platts. Except that Platts, chairman of the Maine Green Independent Party, doesn't really have much of a chance at winning either, but that's no knock on him. Alfond has the name recognition, the pedigree, the financial support and the resume to all but guarantee himself another term. He is one of the leading progressive voices in the state, and I am happy to have him in Augusta fighting for us. Still, Platts gets my endorsement based on his tireless activism and advocacy work on things like raising the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana and equal rights for all. As I said to Platts and Alfond at a recent forum, "I wish you both could win." Unfortunately for Platts it doesn't look like his time has come yet, but it will someday, and when it does he'll deliver.
The final race that I'll be commenting on is for the at-large seat on the Portland School Board. This is an interesting one, because it pits a candidate who fits the exterior mold of the typical school board member yet lacks substance or vision for actually improving the school system in Gene Landry versus a candidate by the familiar name of John Eder who not only misfits the mold, he shatters it. Eder, a former state legislator who at one point was the highest elected third-party official in the entire country, has remained relevant in recent years running for mayor, opposing the sale of Congress Square Park, and helping to legalize marijuana.
Landry's campaign has gone with the slogan, "A parent, not a politician," in reference to the fact that Eder doesn't have any kids, and I understand the argument. But to suggest that the education of our children, which is one of the most important investments any society can make in its future, should only be guided by people who have them is nonsensical. It's like saying that only people who own dogs should have a say on leash and cleanup laws, even though everyone would be at risk of being bitten or stepping in a fresh pile if we just let them all roam free and wild around town.
So for me, it comes down to vision and understanding of the issues. Over the course of the campaign, Landry has shown himself to be a go-along-to-get-along type of candidate who thinks that the school board is doing just fine as is. Eder, on the other hand, has shown the same type of ingenuity that he showed when he was serving in Augusta. He has exciting ideas for working with the diverse population that makes up the student bodies of Portland public schools, he wants to improve retention in high schools by implementing ideas like creating mentorships between local college students and high school kids, but above all he wants to re-establish the school board's diminished role in city policy making in an effort to regain lost credibility and influence in City Hall. My endorsement goes to Eder.
Portland School Board District 4 — Rebecca Wartell
(Chris Shorr is a lifelong Portlander who works on a lobster boat, advocates for the marginalized and downtrodden, and occasionally ruffles feathers in City Hall and Augusta. He blogs at tides.bangordailynews.com and writes this column for the Weekend Edition of The Portland Daily Sun. Contact Chris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)