Sylvester, Doyle square off again in Portland’s House District 39

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PORTLAND — State Rep. Michael Sylvester, D-Portland, is seeking a second term in House District 39, and is opposed by Republican Peter Doyle, whom he defeated in 2016.

Doyle declined to be interviewed about his candidacy.

Sylvester’s campaign is funded through the Maine Clean Elections Act. Doyle is traditionally financed.

House District 39 covers the city’s Casco Bay islands, Munjoy Hill, eastern waterfront and Congress Street corridor to State Street.

State legislative terms are for two years. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Michael Sylvester

Sylvester said his first term was a learning experience, one that will help set a tone for moving forward.

“There is blame to be spread on both sides for partisan atmosphere,” he said. “When you sit in the chair, you learn so much goes on behind closed doors.”

Sylvester and more than a dozen other legislators hope to move forward as the Bull Moose Caucus in the next session, working first on areas where there are some bipartisan agreements and compromise.

He is also supporting Maine Attorney General Janet Mills for governor, after first supporting Betsy Sweet. While he and Mills do not agree on everything, Sylvester said passing legislation without worrying about it being veto-proof will move the state forward.

In moving forward, he said he will also try again with a local option tax, which failed in both branches of the Legislature last year. This time, he would like counties, not municipalities, to establish local option meal and lodging taxes if passed at referendum.

While supporting the aim to bolster home health care for senior citizens and people with disabilities, Sylvester said he is not certain it will be enacted in the manner Question 1 seeks.

How to fund the programs and finding people to staff them remain challenges, he said, although he will vote for the referendum. He compared the question to Question 2 in 2016, which placed a surcharge on incomes of $200,000 or more to fund education.

The surcharge was never enacted, but legislators did increase education funding. Sylvester said he could envision the same result for funding home health care.

Sylvester also supports the four bond questions to fund clean water, roads and bridges, and secondary education.

Sylvester supports an expansion of MaineCare beyond the expansion approved by voters last year, so it would include all Mainers. While he would like to see if a system can be administered with other states, he would support the state going it alone through a tiered system that would not require full implementation from the start.

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

Age: 49

Address: 159 Central Ave., Peaks Island

Family: Married, three children

Party: Democrat

Occupation: Owns Mike’s Carts

Education: Bard College degrees in languages and literature, and gender studies

Experience: Completing first term in House District 39

Website, social media: www.facebook.com/sylvester.forstatehousesylvester4statehouse@gmail.comhttps://legislature.maine.gov/house/hsebios/sylvma.htm

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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.