Really Efficient Electric Heating

One of the big differences between Japan and the United States is central heat. In short, the Japanese don’t have it. Instead of heating their buildings, they heat their bodies.

Here’s an interesting account of an American taking a Japanese approach to staying warm in the winter: “Micro heaters cut 87% off my electric heat bill

Our family just converted this year from heating oil to solar hot water and electric heat. We’ve taken some other steps to reduce our energy use, but despite living in Japan for a year, we still haven’t mastered the art of personal space heating. I’m looking forward to trying some new ideas to stay more comfortable using a lot less energy.

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Continuing the Conversation

What I enjoyed the most about my campaign for state rep, and the five years of owning and running a store on Maine Street, were the conversations. Whether about backyard composting or rooftop solar, I find it endlessly fascinating to explore how we can lead Maine by personal example to a greener future.

So, I’m looking forward to continuing that conversation through this personal blog.

My main focus recently has been looking for interesting work. Hope to have some news on that front soon.

Here’s what else I’m up to:

Here are some Maine organizations that I think are doing important work:

I better stop there… I could keep going for a while!

The fact that there are so many organizations doing such great work here makes me all the more thankful to be writing this from Brunswick, Maine. We may not yet be completely enjoying the way life should be, but we can see it from here!

Holding Candidate Forums

I’m delighted to announce that Mattie Daughtry and Grant Connors will be participating with me in a series of candidate forums starting this week.

These forums are a chance for you to meet all three of your candidates, learn more about where we stand on important issues, and get answers to your questions.

Please join us!

  • Thursday, Sep 13 “Jobs and Economic Development”
    7 – 8:30 pm at Quinby House, 250 Maine Street
  • Tuesday, Sep 18 “Education”
    7 – 8:30 pm at Brunswick Junior High School, 65 Columbia Avenue
  • Wednesday, Sep 26 “Health Care”
    7 – 8:30 pm at People Plus, 35 Union Street

For those who cannot attend in person, we will be videotaping these events for broadcast on local access TV, and for posting on YouTube.

Candidate Forum Poster

Qualifying for Clean Elections

I’m very pleased to announce that I have qualified as a clean elections candidate.

Thank you very much to everyone who contributed to the Maine Clean Elections Fund on my behalf, and everyone who helped collect clean elections checks.

I’m looking forward to a good, clean campaign.

Maine Clean Elections Act

I strongly support clean elections and believe that the Maine Clean Elections Act is a model for the rest of the country.

This Act establishes a voluntary program of full public financing of political campaigns for candidates running for Governor, State Senator, and State Representative. Maine voters passed the MCEA as a citizen initiative in 1996.

As a clean elections candidate, I promise not to raise or spend outside funds on my campaign. I have raised $500 privately in “seed money” and will receive an additional $3,937 in public funding. This will be the entire amount available to run my campaign.

In 2010, significant amounts of money were spent by special interest groups to influence the election here in Brunswick. As  a clean elections candidate, I received matching funds which allowed me to counter this influence.

Unfortunately, in 2011 the Supreme Court struck down the matching funds portion of clean elections laws throughout the United States in Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s FreedomClub PAC vs. Bennett.

As a result, during this election cycle I will receive no additional funds to counter the influence of outside special interest groups. I expect both liberal and conservative special interest groups will spend money to try to tip the election toward the Democrat or the Republican in the race. As a Green Independent, I’m very unlikely to receive any attention from special interest groups.

Despite this, I remain committed to the idea of clean elections. For Maine voters to regain the right to have a clean elections law with a matching funds provision, the United States constitution would need to be amended to overrule the Supreme Court.

Meeting Voters

We had a great time this morning and yesterday being out and about in downtown Brunswick to meet voters and collect $5 qualifying contributions.

Our campaign will have a table at the downtown Brunswick farmers’ market on Tuesdays and Fridays from now until election day in November. Come down and see us!

As a clean elections candidate, I have pledged not to accept any corporate or outside funding to cover my campaign expenses. But I have just a few weeks to qualify for public funding.

So we’re out knocking on doors, meeting people, and asking for your support. But more importantly, we’re out meeting people and finding out what’s important to you.

If you live in District 66, I look forward to knocking on your door and listening to your concerns.

See you on the campaign trail!

-Fred

Welcoming Mr. Connors and Ms. Daughtry to the Race

Today the Times Record reported that at caucuses last week the Republican party chose Grant Connors and the Democratic party chose Matthea “Mattie” Daughtry to be their replacement candidates.

I would like to welcome both of them to the race for Maine House District 66.

Speaking from experience, it takes a lot of time and commitment to participate in our democracy as a candidate for state office. So I thank them for being willing to put themselves and their families through the experience.

I have extended an offer to Ms. Daughtry to participate in a series of issue forums this fall, and she has agreed.  I look forward to making the same offer to Mr. Connors, now that I know he is the Republican candidate, and hope he will agree to join us.  As we did in the last election, my campaign team intends to use some of our clean elections funding to host the forums.

But first, we need to qualify for public support. If you are a registered voter who lives on the north side of Brunswick, please consider making a $5 contribution for a clean election!

Why I’m Running to Represent District 66

Today the Times Record published my commentary explaining why I’m running for office.

Here is the full text:

Why I’m running to represent District 66
BY FRED HORCH
I’m writing to introduce myself to Brunswick voters in District 66. I am Fred Horch, your Green Independent candidate for state representative. You may remember me from the close election in 2010. I’m looking forward to another chance to earn your support.

My family and I love Brunswick and all it offers. After successfully selling F.W. Horch Sustainable Goods & Supplies, our store on Maine Street, I am planning my next business endeavor to be headquartered here in Brunswick.

My wife is a professor at Bowdoin College. Our children attend public school. We shop at local businesses, visit our wonderful public library, ice skate on the downtown rink and bicycle all around town.

Being a husband, father, home owner, landlord and business owner, I seek to carry on the Maine tradition of becoming a citizen legislator with a full life outside of politics.

I’m running to go to work for you in Augusta. We face great challenges on the path to a sustainable future for Brunswick and Maine; our current political, economic and fiscal systems are not working well for most people.

Our top priority should be to come together across political divides to figure out how to take better care of each other and of our environment, which sustains us all. With better policies we can grow a strong, secure and sustainable economy that provides more health and wealth for everyone.

I have been actively involved in the public life of our town, as a board member of the Northwest Brunswick Neighborhood Association, as the founder of the Brunswick Sustainability Group, and as a volunteer with local organizations. For many years, I served our community through my small store on Maine Street, providing practical products for sustainable living and inviting local experts to give free workshops about everything from backyard composting to rooftop solar panels.

Through my store and my volunteer service, I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of meeting thousands of people from all walks of life in Brunswick. Almost every day, I was asked to support a local school, community group or town committee with my time, expertise or financial contribution. Because I respect the dedication behind every request, I did my best to stretch my limited resources to give back to our community.

But I realize there is only so much each of us can do as private citizens. Our representatives in government must make better decisions, too.

As a citizen who cares deeply about the future of our town and state, I will bring genuine enthusiasm to bridge partisan divides. As a business owner and former attorney, I will bring practical experience to reach real solutions. My loyalty and commitment is to the people who call Brunswick home. You can count on me to seek out your views, keep you informed of what’s going on in Augusta and advocate for your priorities.

I believe in the wisdom of a citizen legislature. We strengthen our political system by electing people with life experience beyond politics who bring informed and diverse perspectives to the law-making process.

I am proud to run as a Green Independent to give you a better choice based on shared values, commitment to our community and integrity. Working together, we can choose a better future for ourselves and our posterity. People often ask me why I haven’t joined the Democratic or Republican parties. The answer is that I have always been a political independent who believes in the green values of democracy, peace, justice and respect for future generations — values that I know are widely shared by people of all political parties.

While I understand the desire of the two major parties to gain or retain majority control of the Maine House, I believe it is in our best long-term interest as Maine voters to encourage a diversity of political thought and leadership. Furthermore, in a Legislature that is likely to be closely divided, I believe Brunswick will be best served by a representative who can be the swing vote on important issues and an honest broker between the major parties on contentious causes.

I also believe in making informed choices at the ballot box. For this reason, my campaign will once again offer to organize a series of forums on Maine’s future. I invite you and the other candidates to join me to discuss issues vital to our future quality of life.

As the election season progresses, you’ll find an announcement of each community forum in this newspaper and on my campaign website, http://www.FredHorch.com.

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Green or unenrolled, I look forward to meeting you, hearing your concerns, and learning how I can best serve you as your representative to the Maine Legislature.

FRED HORCH of Brunswick is the Green Independent candidate for District 66 in the Maine House of Representatives.