LEWISTON — School Committee member Luke Jensen kicked off his campaign as an independent candidate for Maine House District 61 over the Labor Day weekend.

Democrat Heidi Brooks has held the seat for two terms.

Jensen said in a prepared statement he is running on a “pro-Lewiston” platform and vowed to focus his attention on reducing poverty “and changing the state education funding formula, which he believes is greatly unfair to Lewiston residents and the students attending Lewiston schools.”

Jensen is one of four contenders for the seat in the Nov. 6 general election. Also in the running are Brooks, Republican Mike Lachance and Green Independent Kimberly Pfusch.

“I’m running because Lewiston gets used and abused by the rest of the state, and we need to push back,” Jensen said. He said the state “forces Lewiston to bear financial burdens that the state itself should be responsible for” that serve to push up local property tax bills.

“If we’re ever going to see a light at the end of the tunnel regarding local taxes, we’re going to have to change the way the state controls Lewiston,” Jensen said. “That’s why I’m running, and that’s what I’ll fight for.”

Jensen said he is running as an independent because his loyalty “is entirely to Lewiston, not to party leaders who routinely play chicken with our state government just because they didn’t get to implement their agendas.”

Jensen is a 2009 graduate of Lewiston High School and earned a bachelor’s degree four years later from Lynchburg College, with a major in international relations.

He is employed as an educational technician with the Auburn schools and works part time as a behavioral health professional with Black Bear Support Services Inc. in Lewiston.

Jensen has represented Ward 5 on Lewiston’s school panel since early 2017. Initially appointed to fill a vacancy, he won election last fall in a ward that stretches from Kennedy Park to the Farwell School neighborhood.

He is chairman of the school board’s administrative and facilities subcommittees. He served in the past as an associate member of the Lewiston Historic Preservation Review Board.

Luke Jensen, a Lewiston School Committee member who is seeking election as an independent in state House District 61 in Lewiston this fall. (Photo provided)