Farnsworth faces 2 challengers in Portland House District 37

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PORTLAND — Opposing candidates have been a rarity for incumbent state Rep. Richard Farnsworth.

But this year, the Democrat in House District 37 has two: Republican Jane Frey and unenrolled candidate Justin Benjamin Pollard.

Frey declined an interview request. She said personal and professional commitments keep her from actively pursuing her candidacy.

Farnsworth is funding his campaign through the Maine Clean Elections Act. Frey and Pollard are traditionally funded.

House District 37 covers the southern and western sections of Portland. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Farnsworth

Farnsworth, 78, of 55 Old Mast Road, is seeking his fourth consecutive two-year term.

“It is sort of an extension of my professional career,” he said, having directed Woodfords Family Services before retiring.

Farnsworth said he is ambivalent about Question 1, which would provide funding for home health care through a surcharge on incomes above $128,400.

While supporting the concept and acknowledging the need exists, Farnsworth said he is not certain the funding source is proper or whether there are enough people to provide the services.

Farnsworth supports the bond questions for education, water quality, and highways and bridges, as well as Democrat Janet Mills for governor.

He said he will emphasize education and child development in the next term, supporting universal pre-K education and the expansion of MaineCare. The MaineCare expansion should be written into the Department of Health and Human Services budget next year, using some state surplus, if needed.

“We have done a good job educating legislators around the importance of early childhood development, I think the time is right,” Farnsworth said of pre-K.

He sees benefits for parents as well, as the programs can provide childcare that allow them to stay in the workforce.

“On top of that, you develop kids who can work together and are learning,” he said.

Farnsworth said he will try again for a bill to create a behavioral health unit at the Cumberland County Jail to provide mental health and substance use disorder treatments.

“We didn’t have enough meat on the bones; we need to go back and rework it,” he said.

He does not see a need to revamp school funding formulas, but Farnsworth said a needed tweak would use a three-year average to determine district real estate valuations instead of two years.

Legislators shifted to the two-year average last year, which reduced some Portland funding.

“It caught us off guard,” Farnsworth said of the local effects.

He also expects state revenue sharing of sales in income taxes to increase, which would help fund municipal operations.

Homelessness needs recognition as a state problem and to be fought with more regional approaches, Farnsworth said. This should include state funding to set up intake centers regionally and possibly a bond to build affordable housing through the Maine State Housing Authority.

Pollard

“I want to bring the message that we need to get more engaged in politics, to learn more about the issues, to talk to our neighbors and to do so in a civil manner,” Pollard said about his run for office.

His first intent was to run as a Democrat against independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, but when unable to get nominating signatures at the party caucus in the spring, Pollard said decided against running.

“I think it was one of the twists of fate that worked out the best,” he said, because his goal of engaged civility is also needed in Augusta.

Pollard is supporting independent Terry Hayes, now the Maine treasurer, for governor, “mainly because I agree with her emphasis on the importance of civil discourse.”

Pollard said he opposes Question 1, the surcharge on incomes of more than $128,400 to fund home health-care services.

“Personally, I think questions regarding this type of specificity on tax policy and spending should be decided by the Legislature,” he said.

Pollard does support the bond questions funding clean water projects, highways and bridge work, and state universities and community colleges.

While supporting the expansion of MaineCare to start, Pollard said he understands the criticism that it would expand government at the cost of self-reliance.

He would also like to see what state government can do to reduce the costs of health care and increase transparency, with more oversight on reimbursement rates for providers.

Pollard said he supports an elementary single-payer system at the state level for preventative care, while private insurers could handle coverage for more complex care.

A way to increase self-reliance is to improve training programs for people who are getting assistance, Pollard said. Doing so would help the economy as well.

“I run a construction company and I cannot find people,” he said, adding the coordination between state colleges and the marketplace needs improvement.

Pollard expects to build consensus between urban and rural legislators, but also suggests bringing in Seeds of Peace to help facilitate policy discussions.

Pollard said he generally supports local control of education. Because some districts are inherently better prepared to pay for education, he said funding and distribution methods also need reevaluation.

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

Age: 78

Address: 55 Old Mast Road

Party: Democrat

Family: Married, three grown children

Occupation: Retired, former executive director of Woodfords Family Services.

Education: Ohio State University, master’s degree from Boston University, graduate studies at Temple University

Experience: Completing third consecutive term in House District 37, served one term prior

Website, social media: https://bit.ly/2wjBLnC, www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014768299191, Richard.Farnsworth@legislature.maine.gov

Age: 46

Address: 14 Bancroft St.

Party: Unenrolled

Family: Unmarried, no children

Occupation: Owns building firm

Education: Stanford University, bachelor’s in international relations, master’s from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Experience: Blue Hill Planning Board, ran for U.S. Senate in 2012 as a Democrat.

Website, social media: www.pollard2018.com

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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.