Voters’ Guide 2010: House District 116

Ken Capron

Maine House District 116
A different Harlow faces Capron and Kilfoil

Ken Capron just keeps steppin’ in it.

Two years ago, the Republican caused a stir when he accused his opponent in the District 116 race, Democrat Charlie Harlow, of using his Catholic high school classroom to “indoctrinate his young charges in the gay agenda.” Harlow said he was merely explaining Portland’s then-new anti-discrimination ordinance to his students at Cheverus.

This past spring, Capron was back in the news for comments he made about his opponent in the Republican primary for this seat: a young Somali immigrant (and Muslim) named Badr Sharif. Capron told the Press Herald that, though he had been unaware Sharif was a Muslim, “If he is, I would have concerns about that because of the fundamentals of their beliefs.”

Capron is the founder of the Maine Center for Constitutional Studies, a Tea Party–style organization that promotes strict adherence to the Maine and U.S. Constitutions, raffles off handguns and assault rifles, and links to all manner of paranoid right-wing screeds, including a newsletter that warns of Muslims who have “penetrated our schools, church organizations, financial institutions, politics and beyond,” as the daily noted.

Capron’s intolerance for homosexuality didn’t help him in the general election two years ago. Harlow, an incumbent who made milk seem exciting, crushed Capron like a bug, earning more than twice as many votes. Capron handily dispatched Sharif in the Elephant Party primary last June, but his Islamophobia is unlikely to propel him to victory is this tolerant, progressive House district that includes the Riverton neighborhood.

Denise Harlow

That said, if Capron attracts as many votes as he did in ’08, he may win after all. That’s because it’s quite possible the Democrat and the independent in this race will split enough of the tally to send Capron, a 59-year-old currency trader, to Augusta.

The Dem is Harlow’s daughter, Denise, a 40-year-old track coach who runs a pet-care business. Charlie Harlow decided not to run again this year in order to help care for his mother, who has since passed away. Denise, who once qualified for Olympic trials as a marathon runner, is making her first run for public office.

The independent is Fred Kilfoil. Now retired, Kilfoil, 64, ran a motel in Scarborough for nearly three decades and was involved in zoning and economic development work for the town. He is also a first-time candidate.

— Chris Busby

Would you support allowing a casino to operate in Maine?

Capron: No.

Harlow: Let voters decide.

Kilfoil: No.

Fred Kilfoil

Should Maine legalize gay marriage?

Capron: No. Has previously supported civil unions with some legal rights.

Harlow: Yes.

Kilfoil: “I support the right of all people to be ‘wedded’ according to a secular contract. Whether or not that’s called ‘marriage’ isn’t important to me. I support equal rights.”

Do you favor any further restrictions on access to abortion?

Capron: Mandatory parental notification. “I only support abortion when it’s medically the last resort.”

Harlow: No.

Kilfoil: No.

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

Capron: Yes, “reluctantly.” Is concerned about disposal of waste, but has “faith that science will find a solution.”

Harlow: No.

Kilfoil: No.

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

Capron: Is interested in ways to make the system less stringent.

Harlow: “From what I know of it, I think it’s fine.”

Kilfoil: Not inclined to change it.

Do you support allowing charter schools to operate in Maine?

Capron: Yes.

Harlow: Undecided.

Kilfoil: Yes.

What was your position on the tax reform plan?

Capron: Opposed.

Harlow: Supported.

Kilfoil: Opposed.

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

Capron: “If he supports it, I support it.”

Harlow: “I believe that Chief Craig has the expertise in that field. If he feels like it’s a big problem and we need to … increase penalties, then we need to look at that.”

Kilfoil: Inclined to support tougher penalties.

Who are you supporting for governor?

Capron: Is “leaning more towards [Shawn] Moody” than Paul LePage.

Harlow: Libby Mitchell.

Kilfoil: Undecided. “I’m more opposed to some than others, but I’m not backing any of them [at present]. The first one that doesn’t throw mud, I will back.”