House District 123: Myrick challenges incumbent Eberle

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Incumbent Democratic Rep. Jane Eberle is seeking a fourth term representing House District 123 against Republican challenger Kenneth Earl Myrick.

District 123 includes part of South Portland and part of Cape Elizabeth.

Eberle said the state needs to reduce spending and increase taxes to balance the budget, while Myrick opposes tax increases.

Eberle is an environmentalist who supports renewable energy to reduce utility costs for businesses. Myrick supports nuclear energy and believes that wind turbines should be a local decision.

Eberle supports gay marriage and a local-option sales tax; Myrick does not.

Jane Eberle

Eberle, 57, is the director of business partnerships for the South Portland School Department. She has lived in the city for 28 years and has three grown children. Her husband, Brett, is a physical therapist.

Eberle said she is seeking re-election because she believes there needs to be legislative continuity.

“I don’t think now is the time to turn over this work to someone who does not have as deep a connection to the community as I have,” she said.

Eberle said she believes the environment is “at risk.” She supports efforts to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy, including solar and geothermal, but believes the state needs to be careful about where it allows wind turbines.

As a member of both the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources and the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Eberle said she is particularly interested in stopping the spread of invasive aquatic species.

“If we lose our lakes, people don’t come to fish,” she said.

To balance the budget, Eberle said the state needs to cut spending and increase revenue. She said she would promote further consolidation of school districts where it makes sense, seek efficiencies in other state programs, and raise taxes on soda, alcohol and tobacco.

“I really liked spreading out the tax base and cutting the top tax rate,” Eberle said of the tax reform package that was repealed by voters.

Eberle said she believes education is the basis for economic growth, but has struggled to reconcile that belief with the Legislature’s history of cutting eduction funding. She believes that more creative partnerships, including internships, between schools and private businesses can help fill the gap.

Kenneth Earl Myrick

Myrick, 36, has lived in South Portland since the third grade. He has two children and is engaged to Wendy Rand. This is his first campaign for public office.

Myrick served in the U.S. Army for more than five years, and saw action in Kosovo in the late 1990s. He received a medical discharge after injuring his knee.

When he returned to South Portland, he worked at the Long Creek Youth Development Center before taking his current job as the health and fitness director at the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine.

“I figured I wanted to help kids before they go to jail,” he said.

Myrick said he would reduce spending by eliminating “feel-good” programs in the Department of Health and Human Services, an agency he said is rife with “waste, fraud and abuse.”

The agency, he said, has failed to act on his own reports of abused and neglected children, while promoting policies that do not break the cycle of dependency.

“I have had a long, bad history with (DHHS),” Myrick said. He said he lived in Portland’s Kennedy Park with “questionable parents” and watched DHHS remove his older brother from his home, leaving him and his younger brother behind.

One DHHS program Myrick said he would look at is the so-called dead-beat dad program, which allows the state to revoke the driver’s licenses of parents who don’t pay child support. When that happens, the parents can lose their jobs and end up on welfare themselves, he said.

Myrick said he favors reducing the tax rate on businesses that, in exchange, agree to donate a specified percentage of their savings to nonprofits. That would provide tax relief, involve businesses in their communities and reduce nonprofits’ reliance on state funding, he said. 

Myrick said he supports energy efficiency, but believes that wind farms should be a local, not a state, decision and would consider nuclear energy, even if it comes at an environmental cost.

“We, as Mainers, want to keep this nice wholesome image,” he said. “But at the same time, beauty costs.”

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

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Incumbent Democratic Rep. Jane Eberle is seeking a fourth term in House District 123, which represents parts of South Portland and Cape Elizabeth.

Kenneth Earl Myrick is the Republican candidate in House District 123.

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