Voters’ Guide 2010: House District 115

Steve Lovejoy

Maine House District 115
Lovejoy vs. Peacenik

This year’s match-up for House District 115 — which includes the north shore of Back Cove and the Oakdale neighborhood around USM — looks a lot like the contest two years ago. Democrat Steve Lovejoy again faces a Republican and a Green.

But there is one important difference. The Republican this time around, Chase Seaver Martin, does not appear to be actively campaigning.

If disgruntled Grand Old Partiers decide to throw their support to the Green instead, this could be a very close race. But, come to think of it, when was the last time that happened?

Lovejoy, 60, won his first term in the House after former Speaker Glenn Cummings was term-limited out in ’08. He teaches college classes on entrepreneurship, marketing and finance, and previously served on the board of the Downtown Portland Corporation, the city’s economic development entity.

The Green, Seth Berner, is a 53-year-old lawyer and online bookseller making his first run for public office, though he’s worked on the political campaigns of fellow lefties like Dennis Kucinich and Mike Brennan. An actor and activist, Berner is one of two volunteer legal directors for the local chapter of the NAACP, and does pro-bono work for the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project.

Berner’s Web site,, is filled with lengthy essays on topics like climate change, human rights, and “people power.” In the section titled “philosophy,” he tells any readers who’ve scrolled down that far that “there is no risk of a Republican getting elected if you vote for me, so this is not November 2008 — you do have a safe choice.”

Indeed, there’s no chance the Republican will win this seat this year. Does Berner have a chance? That’s up to you.

— Chris Busby

Seth Berner

Would you support allowing a casino to operate in Maine?

Berner: No.

Lovejoy: Generally opposed; would only support a casino run by tribes on tribal lands, with no monopolistic restrictions.

Should Maine legalize gay marriage?

Berner: “Absolutely.”

Lovejoy: Yes; co-sponsored marriage equality bill in the House.

Do you favor any further restrictions on access to abortion?

Berner: No.

Lovejoy: “Absolutely not.”

Would you support the construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant in Maine?

Berner: No.

Lovejoy: No.

Should we keep the state’s vehicle inspection system as it is, or make inspections more or less frequent/stringent?

Berner: Would like to reintroduce emissions testing.

Lovejoy: Would be in favor of requiring inspections every two years, rather than annually.

Do you support allowing charter schools to operate in Maine?

Berner: Only if they are non-profit, accept all students who want to attend, and give priority in hiring to teachers who have been “downsized” from public schools.

Lovejoy: Only if “we can figure out a funding mechanism that isn’t going to create problems for existing schools.” Charter schools would also have to accept a “representative population” of students, including those who need special education programs.

What was your position on the tax reform plan?

Berner: Opposed. Prefers a “progressive tax plan” in which the tax rate rises with income level.

Lovejoy: Supported.

Portland Police Chief James Craig is advocating for tougher drug laws. Should Maine’s drug laws be tougher?

Berner: “Chief Craig is grandstanding. What we need is a more sane policy on crime generally, and particularly on drug offenses.”

Lovejoy: Not for possession offenses; can support tougher sentences for high-level trafficking.

Who are you supporting for governor?

Berner: “I will support whichever candidate is best positioned to beat Paul LePage.”

Lovejoy: Libby Mitchell.