House District 124: Kaenrath versus Barter in South Portland

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Incumbent Democratic Rep. Bryan Kaenrath is seeking re-election in House District 124 against Republican challenger Adam C. Barter.

District 124 represents the west end of South Portland.

Neither candidate believes taxes are too high in the state. But Barter supports a local-option sales tax, while Kaenrath does not.

Barter supports the push for wind power in the state, while Kaenrath said he is “torn” about wind turbines, which have a negative aesthetic affect on Maine’s wilderness.

Kaenrath supports gay marriage, while Barter said he “will not oppose it.”

Adam Barter

Barter, 34, lives on Settler Road with his two young children and wife, Trisha, who works in medical billing. Barter, who has worked in the mental health field for 10 years, has lived in South Portland for three years. This is his first campaign for public office.

Barter said he would support spending cuts and reducing the state’s reliance on borrowing to get the state out of its “spending mess.” After interest is paid, he claimed, bonds often cost more than the investment is worth.

While education and the Department of Health and Human Services are frequently targeted for cuts when trying to balance the budget, Barter said he would look for savings among state agencies that have not faced significant cuts.

Although he was not familiar enough with the budget to offer specifics, Barter said he would do the necessary research to figure out which agencies could absorb the cuts.

“There has got to be other places where there is duplication of services,” he said, noting DHHS could be streamlined. “Stones have yet to be overturned.”

Barter said he does not favor new taxes that target tourists. Instead, he said Maine needs to bring in more visitors through better marketing of the state as a  four-season recreation destination.

“It’s not just a summer state,” he said.

Barter said he would support a local-option sales tax to help municipalities deal with reduced state funding. “The more power the municipalities have, the better,” he said.

Barter said he would “vocally oppose” any new limits on gun ownership and would like to see more tax incentives for new small- and medium-sized businesses.

Bryan Kaenrath

Kaenrath, 27, lives on Keswick Road and is pursuing an online master’s degree in public administration through Marist College in New York. He is finishing his second term as a state representative and has lived in South Portland for about five years.

Kaenrath said he believes the state’s economic growth is being stunted by a shortage of highly skilled and educated workers. While the state may not be in a position to increase its investment in education, he said post-secondary education needs to be stressed to high school students.

State budget shortfalls are the result of an unstable tax base, Kaenrath said, which could have been stabilized by the tax reform package that was repealed by voters.

While tax reform is still needed, Kaenrath said he does not believe it will be at the forefront. If anything, he said he would like to pursue a “watered-down” version of the last reform package.

Meanwhile, across-the-board spending cuts will be needed, Kaenrath said, to balance the budget, which he described as “pretty lean.”

“I don’t think we’re being too extravagant,” he said. “Everyone is going to have to take hits and make due with what they have.”

Kaenrath offered only tepid support for wind turbines, which he said will have a negative aesthetic affect on Maine’s landscape.

“We have to be careful about how fast we jump on the wind bandwagon,” he said.

He suggested the state has better potential for solar power and should continue to pursue tidal energy, also noting the state should be putting “as much money as possible” into land conservation.

Kaenrath said he supported state funding for the sound barrier on Interstate 295 in South Portland and would like to pursue funding for another wall along the Maine Turnpike-Route 1 connector.

He said he would also like to reintroduce legislation for biennial, rather than annual, vehicle inspections,  even though a previous effort failed.

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

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Settler Road resident Adam Barter is the Republican candidate for the state House District 124 seat, which represents the west end of South Portland.

Incumbent Democratic state House Rep. Bryan Kaenrath, of Keswick Road, is seeking re-election to the House District 124 seat, which represents the west end of South Portland.

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