Maine Senate District 9
Calling Joe — and getting an answer
[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post did not contain Sen. Brannigan’s answers to our Voters’ Guide questions, because he missed the deadline to respond. Brannigan responded on Oct. 19, and his answers have now been added. — C.B.]
You know that blinking billboard atop the “time and temperature” building downtown that says “CALL JOE”? Well, it ain’t telling you to call Joe Brannigan, the veteran state legislator who currently rules Senate District 9 (the northern half of Portland and part of Westbrook).
We called this Joe twice to get his answers to our Voters’ Guide questions and he didn’t respond before our deadline, but he did call back on Oct. 19, so — thanks to the wonders of online journalism — his answers have now been posted.
Brannigan, 79, is a Democrat who’s served over a dozen terms in the Legislature. He recently retired as executive director of Shalom House, a nonprofit that serves mentally ill adults, after 34 years at the helm.
His challenger this year is Republican Jeff Martin of Portland. Martin, 39, owns Foreside Real Estate Management. He ran for the House seat representing District 113 two years ago, and lost to Democrat Joan Cohen. It wasn’t close.
Brannigan handily dispatched a Republican challenger in ’08, but Martin is running an energetic campaign. And he returns calls in a timely fashion. Here are their answers to this year’s Voters’ Guide questions.
— Chris Busby
Would you support allowing a casino to operate in Maine?
Brannigan: Yes; is primarily in favor of allowing tribes to run racinos.
Martin:“Yes. If you legislate it properly, it can be done right.”
Should Maine legalize gay marriage?
Martin: Yes. “I think it’s time to get past the rhetoric on both sides of the issue … and just move forward on it.”
Do you favor any further restrictions on access to abortion?
Would you support the construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant in Maine?
Brannigan: “It depends. I’m certainly interested in the models they have in France, so I’m not totally closed to it … I think we need to look at all the options at this point.”
Should we keep the state’s vehicle inspection system as it is, or make inspections more or less frequent/stringent?
Brannigan: Supports the current system; is interested in the role inspections could play to help ensure drivers have insurance.
Martin: Favors requiring inspections every two years, rather than annually.
Do you support allowing charter schools to operate in Maine?
What was your position on the tax reform plan?
Brannigan: “Strongly a supporter.”
Portland Police Chief James Craig is advocating for tougher drug laws. Should Maine’s drug laws be tougher?
Brannigan: “Any new restrictions have to be coupled with other changes in order to reduce the number of people we need to lock up…. To just make it stricter and putting people in jail longer, I don’t think that’s the answer.
Martin: No. “I think we should reevaluate how we apply drug laws in the state.” The current laws are “not working” and have led to an “overburdened” prison system.
Who are you supporting for governor?
Brannigan: Libby Mitchell.
Martin: “I’m a Republican. I’m probably going to vote the ticket” — Paul LePage.