Thursday, October 27, 2005

City Council District 2: Anton Hoecker

Published in the Current

SOUTH PORTLAND (Oct 27, 2005): Anton Hoecker is running for the District 2 seat “to bring a progressive voice to the City Council.”

He wants to get “people more involved” and address issues of growth, education, transparency in government, taxation and spending.

He is concerned that a strong focus on cutting taxes is hurting people’s sense of involvement in the community. “The more we cut our financial responsibility for maintaining the community, the more we divest ourselves” from the community, he said.

If the city cuts education funding, “we disconnect ourselves from providing high-quality education for our students,” he said.

“I’m not about wanting to raise taxes. I’m about spending money wisely,” he said. “We’ve become so focused on cutting spending, we’ve stopped thinking about good investments.”

While rising home values are good for individuals’ and families’ financial situations, it is not good for the community if rising values result in pressure for lower taxes, he said. “Cutting spending doesn’t improve the overall quality” of life in the city.

He would like to see Maine’s tax structure reformed, and wants to ask the Legislature to give the city more money because of South Portland’s role as a service center.

He wants new development and any redevelopment to be “environmentally friendly,” including walking trails and addressing static traffic patterns and congestion.

The 50-year-old carpenter is married and the father of two, a daughter, 11, at Mahoney Middle School, and a son, 6, at Small Elementary School.

He supports continuing to have two middle schools in the city, as the school department considers closing Mahoney and building a single new middle school on the site of Memorial.

“In the long run, a single school is more expensive,” Hoecker said. He said research shows students in smaller schools do better, and noted that some larger cities are now breaking up very large schools into smaller elements.

“We need to be investing in our schools, our libraries, because it’ll attract better businesses,” he said. One idea he had that could bring more businesses to the city would be an after-school child care program run by the recreation department, which employ retired people and help free up working parents.

He also supports an ordinance defining what constitutes conflict of interest in city government, saying trust in government is enhanced by “openness and light of day.”