Last night the three candidates running for the District 66 seat in the Maine House of Representatives spoke at a forum held in Quinby House. Democrat Matthea “Mattie” Daughtry, Republican Grant Connors and Fred Horch of the Green Party are vying to represent the district, which comprises most of the College.
The seat was formerly occupied by Alexander Cornell du Houx ’06, who represented District 66 from 2008 to 2012. Cornell du Houx dropped out of the race over the summer, but was originally on the ballot.
The Maine House of Representatives has 154 members; 77 are Republicans, 71 are Democrats, one is an independent, and two non-voting members represent Native American tribes.
At Quinby House yesterday, the candidates discussed jobs and economic development.
Connors is a 69-year-old retired science teacher who was asked to fill in as the Republican candidate at the last minute. He says he is seeking office because of his grandchildren.
“I want them to have jobs and be able to stay in Maine. I think everybody who wants to work in Maine should be able to,” he said last night.
Citing a full career’s worth of experience, Connors insisted he has the necessary knowledge for dealing with jobs and education.
“If I go to the legislature, I will be fighting for all the kids in District 66 and in Maine,” Connors said.
Democratic candidate Mattie Daughtry is a 25-year-old Brunswick resident and Smith College graduate.
Daughtry’s decision to run for Cornell du Houx’s seat was based largely on her view of Maine’s current governor, Paul LePage.
“He’s a bully,” said Daughtry. “He’s an extreme governor. In two years I did not know it was possible for a governor to dismantle this much stuff.”
Daughtry worked for Maine’s Majority, a group opposed to Governor LePage and his policies, whose members proudly state that they are among “the 61 percent who did not vote for LePage.”
The Green Party candidate, Fred Horch, husband of Bowdoin biology professor Hadley Horch, is running for the District 66 seat for the second time.
In 2010, Horch ran against Cornell du Houx and lost by a mere 195 votes.
“We are completely dependent on fossil fuel for our economic activity,” said Horch, who is a proponent of energy independence in Maine. “Every time you buy gasoline, every time you buy heating oil, you are paying an enormous tax, none of which goes to Maine. In a medium term, one of the most important things we can do is figure out our energy security.”
During the question and answer portion of the forum, a Brunswick resident confronted Horch about a recent ad of his, in which he used a quote from a Brunswick Democratic legislator Charles Priest, who had previously endorsed Daughtry.
“If electing a Green Independent is such a good idea for Brunswick, why did you need to reach for the endorsement of a Democrat?” the resident asked. “I was there the day that he endorsed Mattie and I was really surprised and disappointed to see that you took his quote out of context and made it seem like an endorsement when it certainly was not.”
Horch responded that he had never meant to claim an endorsement from the legislator, but instead was intending to use Priest’s negative comment to his own advantage.
“He was conceding the point that I’m attractive to a lot of voters. We sourced the quote so people could look it up in the paper,” Horch said.
Although the Democratic and Green Party platforms are similar, both Daughtry and Horch believe that their stances on important issues are easily distinguishable.
Horch believes the lack of independents in Maine politics is a serious flaw.
“We have two parties here that are just fighting and we’re not bringing in independents. Forty percent of Maine voters are registered independent, either Green Independents or unrolled, and yet only one out of 150 legislators are independent,” he said.
Daughtry disagrees with Horch’s assessment.
“I have seen Democrats and Republicans working together,” said Daughtry. “You do not have to be an independent to get things done. I have to say, don’t slam the two parties, we’re in them.”
Daughtry also plugged her home-court advantage in this race.
“I grew up here. This is my hometown. Fred has been here for about 10 years. I’ve seen the schools from the inside. It’s a unique opportunity to elect a representative who has been here through the whole thing, and has seen it all first hand,” she said.
Will Ossoff ’15, who organized the event, considered it a successful forum and discussion.
“When I looked out at the sea of people, I was incredibly excited. It’s awesome to see so much political interest and activism at Bowdoin,” he said.