House District 120: Trevorrow challenges incumbent Russell in Portland

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PORTLAND — Green Independent candidate Anna Trevorrow is challenging first-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Diane Russell in House District 120.

District 120 represents the Old Port and Munjoy Hill.

Republican Thomas Elliman is also on the ballot, but he said he is a placeholder candidate and is not actively campaigning.

Trevorrow said her focus is on alternative transportation, particularly commuter rail, and strengthening the local and creative economies. Russell said education and home weatherization are her top priorities, as well as reviewing the allocation of gambling revenue from Hollywood Slots in Bangor.

Both candidates said they would support efforts to create new, upper-level income tax brackets and believe the state should focus on weatherization programs before investing in renewable energy.

Diane Russell

Russell, 34, is the manager of a gourmet ice cream shop in the Old Port. With a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Maine, she previously did public relations and communications work and serves on the board of Opportunity Maine.

Russell said she is seeking re-election to implement the recently passed federal health-care law. She said she believes investments in preschool programs and higher education will ultimately reduce criminal justice and special needs costs. 

To fund those programs, Russell said she would consider expanding the sales tax and increasing taxes on luxury items. She would also create new income tax brackets for the state’s top earners, while lowering taxes for the low income.

Russell said she would also scrutinize how gambling revenue from Hollywood Slots in Bangor is allocated.

“There was no accounting of how that money would be spent,” she said of the gambling revenue. “There was a lot of money left on the table that people don’t know about.”

Russell said the answer to the state’s economic ills is breaking down the funding “silos” of education and the workplace. Instead, the state needs to identify sectors for strategic investments, she said, such as targeting the energy, biotechnology and composites sectors.

Wind farms and tidal power are a “real opportunity” for the state, Russell said, but the state needs to focus its energy on weatherizing its aging housing stock. Weatherization will not only reduce energy costs for homeowners, but create jobs, she said.

“That’s money that gets reinvested here,” she said.

Russell said the projected state budget shortfall is going to require residents to have a conversation about what role they want government to play and what they’re willing to pay for.

While the federal stimulus saved preserved many infrastructure and education projects that would have otherwise been cut, Russell said she doesn’t believe the state will receive those funds again.

“Going forward we are going to have to make come serious decisions,” she said. “It’s not going to be pretty.”

Russell said she has an ability to bring people together, noting efforts to convince Republicans to sign on to a resolution supporting federal climate change efforts.

“It’s not how you vote,” she said. “It’s how effective you are in getting other people to vote with you.”

Anna J. Trevorrow

Trevorrow, 28, is finishing a one-year term on the Portland Charter Commission, an elected position. She is a spokeswoman for the Green Independent Party and serves on the party’s state steering committee.

She holds an English degree from the University of Southern Maine and lives on Congress Street with her partner, Anthony Zeli.

Trevorrow said she is running because this is an opportune year for a third-party candidate.

“People are looking for something outside of the status quo,” she said. “I’m unafraid to challenge the system (in Augusta).”

Trevorrow said she is excited about a transportation bond recently approved by voters that will fund improvements to the St. Lawrence-Atlantic and Mountain Division railroad lines. 

Creating commuter rail, linking Portland to Lewiston-Auburn and communities west of Westbrook and Windham, would not only reduce traffic, Trevorrow said, but would be a tourist attraction.

Trevorrow said the state budget shortfall cannot be dealt with by cutting expenses alone. While efficiencies among agencies should be explored, departments like education and health and human services have met their limits, she said.

Instead, she would try to increase revenue by creating a new tax bracket for those making more than $250,000 and taxing them at a higher rate. She also would separate the meals and lodging tax, while increasing the latter. Increasing taxes on luxury items and services is also an option, she said.

Trevorrow  said she would also like to re-examine the state’s corporate tax laws, which she believes are too friendly to big-box stores and put local businesses at a disadvantage.

“We ought to think: are (corporations) paying their fair share and are we taxing them at a fair rate?” she said.

Trevorrow said she supports wind and solar energy projects as long as they occur on a decentralized, residential basis. Large-scale wind projects have adverse effects on the community and ecology, she said.

As a third-party candidate, Trevorrow said she will be best positioned to make “sound ethical judgements.”

“I’m not part of the two-party system,” she said. “That would put me in a point where I wouldn’t owe my vote to anybody.”

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecatser.net

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Democratic incumbent Rep. Diane Russell

Green Independent Anna Trevorrow

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