Vote or Quit Bitchin’ 2006
Local election coverage
Voters’ Guide: State House District 117
Haskell and Safarik tangle over Brannigan’s seat
By Chris Busby and Erik Eisele
John Safarik may be glad to know this reporter (Bollard editor Chris Busby) is inclined to vote for him this fall. However, any gladness Safarik feels may be tempered by the fact I live and vote in the West End, District 118, not Safarik’s district, 117 (out Stroudwater and Rosemont way).
Safarik gets editorial kudos for realizing the creation of invisible “drug-free safe zones” around parks and playgrounds won’t advance the cause of the nation’s War on Drugs. It’s also just about the only subject where Safarik, a Green Independent, differs from Democratic candidate Anne Haskell.
(There’s a Republican on the ballot as well, David Pelletier, but he’s not really campaigning and never responded to our request for an interview.)
Haskell and Safarik are vying for the House seat held so long by Rep. Joe Brannigan that his buns are embronzed upon it. (Brannigan and his buns are running for a state Senate seat this year.) Safarik challenged Brannigan two years ago and, frankly, got his ass handed to him, garnering less than a third of the Democratic incumbent’s votes.
Haskell won’t be much easier to beat. Formerly of Gorham, where she served three terms in the House and over a dozen years on the Town Council, Haskell has the political experience Safarik, a retired educator, lacks. Safarik also lacks the boost Green candidates get from voters in districts on the peninsula, though the Greening of the local electorate shows signs of creeping over I-295.
Haskell, 63, and Safarik, 69, both oppose TABOR, further restrictions on access to abortion, the death penalty and expansion of gambling in Maine. They support Dirigo Health, equal rights for gay and lesbian couples, and a local-option sales tax for cities like Portland.
Safarik supports a ban on assault weapons, while Haskell would restrict and monitor their sale. Asked if Peaks Island should be allowed to secede, Haskell said “probably,” Safarik said “yes.” Neither has any bright ideas to help keep the groundfishing industry alive in Maine.
So though we’re not making formal endorsements in state House races this year,The Bollard tips its hat to Safarik here, knowing this tip will have no actual impact on the race. Then again, who’s to say a Press Herald endorsement is worth the pulp it’s printed on? (Haskell got the daily’s nod.)