Dion all but a shoo-in for re-election in Portland-Falmouth House District 43

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PORTLAND — The election in Maine House District 43 is contested, but only in theory.

Republican Shannon Rafferty-Roy is not making an effort to unseat the incumbent Democrat, Rep. Mark Dion.

“I’m not a politician,” said Rafferty-Roy, who said she had planned to withdraw from the race after the June 10 primary that allowed the GOP to field a candidate.

District 43 extends north through Portland to the Maine Turnpike Spur in Falmouth, and east to the mouth of the Presumpscot River. The seat carries a two-year term. Election Day is Nov. 4.

Rafferty-Roy, 44, of 13 Sanborn St., is a property manager for the Portland Housing Authority. While she is not actively campaigning, Dion said he has bigger plans if re-elected to what will be his third term.

“I am also going to make an attempt to run as caucus leader,” he said.

A former Portland police officer and Cumberland County sheriff, who now has a private law practice, Dion said he would like to emphasize continued development of digital infrastructure throughout the state, improving mental health care, and a re-examination of state tax policy.

Dion supports expanding MaineCare services using federal Medicaid funding.

“We have a moral responsibility to provide the access to basic health care for everyone,” he said.

The tax questions may be better suited for a commission appointed by the governor, Dion said, but the Legislature needs a better sense of how tax policy has affected budgeting.

“We have to look at performance measures, have we purchased outcomes that matched expectations when we made allocations?” he said.

Whether by increasing items such as the lodging tax or taking a look at other local-option taxes, Dion said the municipal over-reliance on property taxes needs to be addressed.

“I translate a tax base of citizens getting older as a flattening of income and an inability to absorb things,” he said. “It is a slow building wave. It is prudent we start thinking about it now.”

A supporter of the use of marijuana for medical purposes, Dion said he remains wary about legalized possession and its consequences.

“If it is legalized, then we have to develop a body of laws to deal with over-consumption, impairment and taxes,” he said.

Dion suggested some taxes from legalized marijuana could fund education, and said there should also be a discussion about addiction and whether “we treat everyone like a felon.”

He said improved digital infrastructure will boost economic development, but can also help deliver improved social services, including mental health care. A more seamless network will allow patients in rural areas to better connect with professionals in urban areas for diagnosis and treatments.

“Those are the jobs of the future,” he said of improved digital access.

Dion said he supports a wider look at developing and using energy sources to reduce energy costs.

“I think conservation and weatherization make sense, but we need to make a commitment to distributed power generation, places generating on-site power,” he said.

He supports subsidizing development of alternative energy sources.

“If the technology has merit and they need start-up funds, that is where the state can provide some leverage,” he said.

A member of the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities & Technology Committee in his first term, Dion became chairman of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in his second term.

If he fails to become a caucus leader, Dion said he would like to return to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

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

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Dion

Rafferty-Roy

Maine House District 43

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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.