Nominal opposition for incumbent Democrat in Portland House District 38

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PORTLAND — Seeking his second term in the Maine House representing the city’s West End, Democratic Rep. Matthew Moonen said he would like to continue his prior committee work while being part of the city’s legislative delegation.

“Nobody from Portland is termed out, so there is a real opportunity for the Portland team to get some good things done,” he said.

Running in the newly drawn House District 38, created with data from the 2010 U.S. Census, Moonen, of 89 Spruce St., faces what amounts to only paper opposition: two candidates who appear on the Nov. 4 ballot, but aren’t trying to get elected.

Republican Thomas J. Loring, of 327 Brackett St., did not reply to an interview request. Loring has spent no money and received no contributions for his campaign, according to the most recent records filed with the state Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

Thomas MacMillan of the Green Independent Party withdrew from the race July 28 after moving out of the district. His withdrawal came after the deadline for the Greens to select a replacement candidate.

Moonen, 30, spent his first term serving on the Legislature’s Taxation and Judiciary committees and said he enjoyed both.

“Judiciary covers a lot of issues I got my start in politics with,” said Moonen, a media consultant who worked with Equality Maine in support of allowing same-sex marriages. “Taxation I love because it is the nuts and bolts of what we pay for.”

Moonen said he expects the Judiciary Committee will be working on several new issues regarding privacy laws, including where and how unmanned aerial crafts, or drones, will be deployed over Maine.

The question excites him because it draws input throughout the political spectrum, he said.

Moonen said  he favors tax reform, including keeping the increased lodging tax used to provide revenue sharing to municipalities while also fully evaluating annually the intents and consequences of tax breaks and exemptions grant by the Legislature.

He does not favor tax reform in an all-encompassing manner, he said.

“They have tried to do it in one big bill that becomes so big and controversial it is impossible to get two-thirds of the Legislature to vote for it,” he said, which opens the door to a referendum like the one which repealed the so called “soda tax” in 2010.

Moonen said he favors increasing access to health insurance by expanding the MaineCare system with federal Medicaid funding. The plan was vetoed five times by Gov. Paul LePage, who said the state cannot afford its share after full federal funding ends in three years.

“I voted for it five times, I fully support it,” Moonen said. “We are paying federal taxes and they have offered it back. Why wouldn’t I want that money to come back here and cover other people?”

He also supports increasing the state’s $7.50-per-hour minimum wage and would like to see it somewhere between $10 and $15 per hour in the city.

“I don’t want working-class people pushed out of the city because they can afford to live here,” he said.

Moonen said the time has come to legalize marijuana as a practical matter.

“I feel like it is inevitable, it is just a question of how we get there,” he said. “I would rather have some kind of structure in place so we are ready to deal with it.”

Moonen would also like to reform spending on charter schools to ensure public schools do not lose funding for instances like home-schooled students deciding to attend a charter school.

He said he would also like the Legislature to pass a strengthened Clean Elections law to help state-finance candidates counter outside campaign spending while also requiring stricter funding and spending disclosure requirements.

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

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Moonen

Maine House District 38

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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.