Voters’ Guide 2010: House District 119

Jill Barkley

Maine House District 119
Life after Herb

That sucking sound you’ve been hearing from Portland’s Parkside neighborhood has nothing to do with the snorting of illicit powders. It’s the power vacuum created by State Rep. Herb Adams’ retirement from the Legislature after God-knows-how-many terms representing the ’hood in Augusta.

Adams’ departure set off a flurry of chaotic political activity in District 119 earlier this year.

Two Greens faced off in a primary: rockabilly singer Kris Eckhardt (of King Memphis fame) and blogger Christian MilNeil, a transportation and urban planning activist. MilNeil won by the underwhelming tally of 21 to 16, but then decided not to run after all, and the Greens didn’t get a replacement candidate on the ballot in time.

Ben Chipman

Enter longtime Green Party organizer Ben Chipman, running as an “independent.”

Two Democrats also squared off last June: Somali refugee and student Mohammed Dini and community organizer and activist Jill Barkley. Barkley won and has stayed in the race. (The Republicans had a name holding a place on the ballot, but never replaced that placeholder with a candidate.)

So it’s Barkley against Chipman in the race to replace Adams.

Barkley, 29, has been endorsed by Adams, a fellow Dem. She does outreach and policy work for the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, and has been active in gay rights issues. This is her first run for public office.

Chipman, 35, was elected to serve on the city’s charter commission in 2008. He was the legislative aide to Green State Rep. John Eder from 2002-2006, and has worked on a wide variety of campaigns and issues in recent years: from repealing the tax reform measure last summer to maintaining polling places in Portland and addressing noise problems in the Old Port.

Here’s what they had to say.

— Chris Busby

Would you support allowing a casino to operate in Maine?

Barkley: Only on tribal lands.

Chipman: Is “not a big fan of gambling,” but would support a casino “if a local community wants it.”

Should Maine legalize gay marriage?

Barkley: Yes.

Chipman: Yes.

Do you favor any further restrictions on access to abortion?

Barkley: No.

Chipman: No.

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

Barkley: No.

Chipman: No.

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

Barkley: Would have to consider the financial impact on vehicle owners and the impact on the environment of any changes.

Chipman: Would consider requiring inspections every two years, rather than annually.

Do you support allowing charter schools to operate in Maine?

Barkley: Is “open to looking into it,” but “first I would want to look at what can be done to improve public schools.”

Chipman: Undecided.

What was your position on the tax reform plan?

Barkley: Supported. “I felt that plan was a necessary first step.”

Chipman: Opposed, and organized to defeat the plan.

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

Barkley: Not inclined to support tougher penalties. “I think that tougher drug laws don’t always get to the root of the problem.”

Chipman: Not for simple possession offenses.

Who are you supporting for governor?

Barkley: Libby Mitchell.

Chipman: Is “leaning toward” Libby Mitchell.