Brennan, Ledue vie for Portland House District 36 seat

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PORTLAND — A political veteran and a newcomer are looking to replace state Rep. Denise Harlow in House District 36.

For the Democrats, former Mayor Michael Brennan is looking to return to elected office.

Samuel P. Ledue, 1396 Forest Ave., is the Republican candidate. He declined a request for an interview to discuss his candidacy and views.

Harlow is stepping aside because of state term limits, and had served as a Democrat for seven of her eight years in office before leaving the party in May 2017.

House District 36 extends from a small portion of Ocean Avenue between Walton and Read streets north and west to city boundaries with Westbrook and Falmouth.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Michael Brennan

Brennan, 65, of 49 Wellington Road, is running for the first time since his 2015 defeat to Mayor Ethan Strimling in the city mayoral election.

“I felt I could add an important voice for Portland in the Legislature,” Brennan said. “I think this election is about the future of the state; I think it has not been moving in the right direction.”

Brennan was mayor from 2011-15, and viewed his role as being an advocate for the city in Augusta.

His legislative experience is vast; he served four terms in the Maine House and three in the Maine Senate. He was also Senate Majority Leader before leaving the Legislature in 2008 to run for U.S. House of Representative in the 1st District. He finished third in the Democratic primary to Rep. Chellie Pingree.

Brennan, who is married with two grown children, is the special projects director for Common Dreams, an independent nonprofit news center. He is also a licensed clinical social worker who teaches at the University of Southern Maine.

He endorsed Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills in her race for governor.

While looking to ensure the city gets a fairer share of education funding, revenue sharing from sales and income taxes and General Assistance reimbursements, Brennan said three bonds are needed.

One, of at least $25 million, would help municipalities confront climate change and rising sea levels.

A second would help build and operate housing first initiatives throughout Maine. The third would expand the city’s Thompson Point Transportation Center to better link the Portland International Jetport and waterfront and decrease reliance on cars.

Brennan said he would also like to increase the debt ceiling for state funding for school construction, as he believes the city could have gotten three schools on to the revised state funding list.

He would also look to ensure the state pays the mandated 55 percent of the cost of local education statewide.

Brennan said the expansion of Medicaid is essential to providing help for people in need, including those with substance use disorders and children affected by those disorders.

“I think the cost of funding Medicaid expansion has been greatly overstated,” he said. “I don’t think funding is the issue; it is an absolute red herring that has been put on the table.”

Brennan would also like to bring back a state substance use office to help tie together state and local efforts for treatment and services.

“A problem in the state is, we don’t have a specific focus on substance use issues and addiction,” he said. “We need that in state government at a cabinet level.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Age: 65

Residence: 49 Wellington Road

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Family: Married, two adult children.

Occupation: Director of special projects for Common Dreams, licensed clinical social worker, teaches at USM.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in education from Florida State University, master’s in public policy from Muskie School of Public Service at University of Southern Maine, social work degree from University of New England, certificate in public leadership from Harvard Kennedy School.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/michael.brennan.7906

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.