Thursday, December 14, 2006

Spring Recoils
Former School Board Rep Headed South

Former West End School Committee member Stephen Spring is moving to Austin, Texas next month to start a new job there. Spring lost his bid for re-election to a second term on the Portland School Committee to West End Neighborhood Association President Robert O’Brien.

Spring called it “a long and tough decision to leave Portland.” In his term on the School Committee, Spring was responsible for that board taking on student representatives as non-voting members, helped institute a policy limiting military recruitment in City schools, advocated and secured free passes for students to use METRO public buses, and was a leading voice in opposition to a school task force proposal to close the Reiche School.

He was also at the center of many political battles between the Democrats on the Committee, which is officially non-partisan, and the Green Independent Party, of which Spring is a member. Spring wrote a public farewell letter to his constituents, the text of which follows:

Dear Neighbors,

I want to take a moment to thank you for the friendship and encouragement you provided me both during my three years on the school board and in the years outside of public service. As I say ‘ciao’ in a public way, I’d like to share some thoughts and learning that have become part of me as a result of my experiences as a resident in the neighborhood.

District 2 in Portland possesses an energy that is unmatched in all of Maine. It is a place where neighborhoods are shared by old and new residents. There are some who can trace their family history back centuries and never leave the district; others have just arrived, either from another part of the city, state, or country; an increasing number of folks are coming to Portland’s geographically smallest district from dozens of different countries.

With this mix of authentic human experiences comes the challenge to create the conditions necessary to increase the likelihood that we learn from each other. It is in these “collisions” of diverse ways of being and thought that we find ideas that will serve us as we create the world we deserve. We must persevere in pushing back against structures that leave many disempowered. How can we continue breaking down the barriers that still remain in our two large public high schools, in our housing patterns, and in our political structures? District 2 has what it takes to tackle these questions and in doing so, will interrupt injustice. This western outpost of our city’s peninsula has been doing this work for quite some time.

After seventeen years of living in Maine, with eight of these in District 2, I have decided to follow a career opportunity in another land. My partner, Gustavo, is welcoming the move to a climate that’s a bit more familiar to his soul. I’ll be taking the good energy from here with me and I’ll be watching what goes on in my old ‘hood from afar.

Thank you all for making these years in the neighborhood and the three in political office such exciting and gratifying times. Rock on!

Stephen Spring


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