Voters’ Guide 2010: Senate District 8

Justin Alfond

Maine State Senate District 8

Before you automatically fill in the oval next to Justin Alfond’s name, will you pause to consider that maybe — just maybe — this likeable young man from one of Maine’s wealthiest and most charitable families is actually a crooked backroom powerbroker who rewrote tax reform legislation in an attempt to save himself and a politically connected pal a few pennies on every dollar?

Alfond’s opponent this year, Republican Peter Doyle, isn’t saying the state senator did this, but he thinks you just might want to consider whether he did before the Sharpie hits the ballot this November.

Doyle’s talking about the tax reform plan approved by Democrats in Augusta last year and vetoed by Maine voters at the polls this past summer. The measure would have imposed a new tax on some recreational activities (like playing miniature golf and going to the movies), but others (like golfing and skiing) would not have been taxed.

Also not on the list: bowling. And, lo and behold, Alfond is a partner — with Charlie Mitchell, son of State Senate President (and gubernatorial hopeful) Libby Mitchell — in a bowling alley that just opened in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood.

Doyle said bowling was “noticeably absent” from the list of activities the tax law included. “I will let you draw the conclusion,” he said.

Alfond’s response? “If I had that much power, it would be awesome,” he said.

Alfond went on to say that it was Gov. John Baldacci’s decision to exempt recreational activities from the tax package the Legislature sent to his desk, not his. “I did not have one part in the exemption of bowling,” said Alfond. “I did not know it was part of [Baldacci’s] thinking until [the amended bill] came back to us.”

Alfond added that he was “uncomfortable” with the tax exemptions, but that he and his fellow legislators knew the governor would veto the whole thing if the exemptions for recreation were not included.

Ready to draw a conclusion now? If not, here’s a little more info.

Peter Doyle

Doyle is a 46-year-old software developer making his second run for public office. (He ran two years ago for the State House seat representing Portland’s East End, and lost to Democrat Diane Russell.)

Alfond, 35, is a real estate developer (and bowling alley king pin) seeking his second term representing State Senate District 8, which covers the southern half of the city (including the peninsula and islands). He started the local chapter of the League of Young Voters in 2004 and served as its executive director for four years.

Still undecided? OK, here are their positions on the some big issues.

— Chris Busby

Would you support allowing a casino to operate in Maine?

Alfond: “Generally, I have voted ‘no’ on all the casino citizen initiatives.” Would prefer to have a group of stakeholders convene to set rules and parameters for any future casino project.

Doyle: Is opposed to this year’s proposal for a casino in Oxford County; believes the issue should be decided by the host community, not by a statewide vote.

Should Maine legalize gay marriage?

Alfond: Yes.

Doyle: “I agree with President Obama that we should retain the union of one man and one woman as the definition of marriage.”

Do you favor any further restrictions on access to abortion?

Alfond: No.

Doyle: Supports those restrictions allowed by federal law. [See Doyle’s 2008 letter to the editor here for a more detailed response.]

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

Alfond: No.

Doyle: Yes, “assuming that all the necessary safety and environmental studies were done in advance.”

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

Alfond: Is open to considering changes.

Doyle: Would be inclined to make inspections less frequent for newer vehicles.

Do you support allowing charter schools to operate in Maine?

Alfond: No.

Doyle: Yes.

What was your position on the tax reform plan?

Alfond: Supported.

Doyle: Opposed.

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

Alfond: Undecided, but skeptical that increased penalties would help address drug problems.

Doyle: Only if treatment and other support in ensured.

Who are you supporting for governor?

Alfond: Libby Mitchell.

Doyle: Paul LePage. “He’s a really great guy.”