Monday, November 14, 2011
Bennett Gets 17 Write-In Votes for
Claims cover-up by City election officials.
Republican Erick Bennett, the only official write-in candidate in Portland's
recent mayoral election, received 17 of the 81 write-in votes cast in the
election, according to Elections Administrator Bud Philbrick. Bennett was one
of the early announced candidates in the race, but failed to come up with
enough petition signatures to get his name on the ballot.

Bennett is claiming that City election officials are not counting thousands of
votes that were cast for him.
"They are denying your vote from counting," Bennett told his supporters on his
Facebook page. "The reason they are doing this is because we crushed
everybody else and they are trying to cover it up."

Bennett was the 'social networking strategist' for the election campaign of
Governor Paul LePage. During his mayoral campaign, he said he would be
Portland's first 'social media' mayor.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Former State Senator Michael Brennan was declared Portland's first elected
mayor in 88 years  as a result of the city's newly-instituted ranked choice
voting system. Brennan led fourteen other candidates after the first round of
voting with about 27% of the first choice votes of Portland voters - 5,240
votes out of more than 19,000.

Brennan won the race with 8,971 votes, after thirteen other candidates were
eliminated. Ethan Strimling finished second with 7,138.  Current Mayor
Nicholas Mavodones finished third with 4,075 votes. The results are unofficial
pending further review by City elections officials.

Saturday, November 5, 2011
Mayoral Candidates Announce
Support for Each Other's
Mayoral candidates David Marshall, Markos Miller, and Jed Rathband held a
press conference this morning on the steps of City Hall to "highlight the new
generation of leadership in Portland and present a clear choice to voters looking
for an alternative to the status quo."

Several prominent endorsements have been awarded to each of these three

 The top endorsement from the League of Young Voters;
Maine Green Independent Party endorsement;
Portland Phoenix: Environment and Creative Economy + Arts + Culture

 The sole endorsement of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC;
Top 5, League of Young Voters, Portland Phoenix (Rathband),

 Portland Education Association endorsement;
Top-5 choice from the League of Young Voters;
Portland Phoenix: Community/Neighborhood Development (Miller).

The three candidates highlighted their work in the community and in City Hall,
saying that they can work collaboratively and efficiently to achieve progress on
issues like education, economic development, transportation and overall quality
of life matters. They are among fifteen candidates seeking the office. The
election will be held this Tuesday, November 8th.

Thursday, November 3, 2011
Greens Endorse Marshall as Eder
The Maine Green Independent Party endorsed West End City Councilor David
Marshall for Portland’s first elected mayor, just hours after Marshall's fellow
Green-and mayoral opponent-John Eder threw his support behind another
candidate, Democrat Ethan Strimling. The mayoral race is officially non-
partisan, but most of the candidates have identified their party affiliations.

“Let there be no mistake about it, David Marshall is the Green choice for
Portland’s mayor,” said Nate Shea, MGIP Chair. “His leadership on sustainable
transportation, green development, and the creative economy places him
among the strongest elected Greens in the nation.”

Eder, who, as the state representative from the West End, was once the
highest-ranking elected Green Party official in the nation, said he will remain in
the race, but felt his candidacy was slipping and Strimling shared some of his
ideas about building affordable housing downtown and working on affordable
health care. Strimling and Eder also served together in the Maine State

In his campaign, Marshall has proposed creating a modern streetcar line in
Portland, converting homes and businesses from oil to cleaner fuels, growing
the population density to create a more sustainable city, as well as emphasising
his longstanding commitment to helping constituents cut through city

Marshall has been knocking on doors since his campaign began in February.
He received the #1 endorsement by the Maine League of Young Voters, and
two issue-based endorsements by the Portland Phoenix. He has been the West
End's City Councilor since 2006.

Mayor Watch 2011
Whose Bright Idea Was That
          By WILL EVERITT

The transition from a ceremonial mayor to an elected one has transformed
Portland. For the first time, residents of the biggest city in Maine are having a
community dialogue about competing visions of our collective future. While the
sheer number of candidates is overwhelming, the process of having fifteen
people articulate the ways - great and small, visionary and concrete -  that they
want Portland to move forward, has created a number of bright ideas.
No matter who wins the race, the new mayor should take advantage of the
“idea bank” the election has created. Here are some of the best ideas, great and
small, from leading candidates and dark horses alike.

-Mike Brennan’s bright idea is encouraging research and job training clusters
between the University of Southern Maine, Southern Maine Community
College, Maine Med, and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. More than 40%
of Portlanders have a college degree or better, and many of them are under-
employed. By encouraging colleges to work closer with research institutions
and businesses, we can better train our work force, create more jobs, and
encourage innovation.  

-Dave Marshall’s campaign has put forward so many ideas, it’s almost
drowning in them. All of his ideas are centered around an issue few candidates
are talking about: growing Portland’s population. If we grew our population by
10,000 people in the next decade, we increase our economic base and spread
out our tax burden. One of his main ideas for encouraging this is a modern
streetcar system connecting downtown and residential areas with the Outer
Congress transportation hub. Businesses and housing investments are a natural
outgrowth of permanent public transportation systems like this. But regardless
of the various strategies available, City Hall has to focus on the goal of growing
our city, and not losing families to South Portland, Westbrook, Falmouth, and
the Cape. Another solid idea from Marshall is his “24 hour pothole guarantee.”
This isn’t so much a promise to fill in our potholes, but the implementation of a
system to track calls to City Hall and evaluate how much time it takes to
address citizens’ problems. Other cities around the country have implemented
such a program, making their bureaucracies a little more user-friendly.

-Markos Miller’s best idea is the one he’s been working on since long before
the mayoral race: turning Franklin Arterial back into a city-scale street. Even if
we just moved its four lanes together, it would open up acres of city land to
development and usable open space and reconnect the East End with the rest
of the city.

-John Eder’s idea of giving students free rides on our bus system shouldn’t get
lost in mix. The Metro is a safe, environmentally-friendly, and under-utilized
resource in our city. By encouraging our older students to use the Metro to get
to and from school takes advantage of existing transportation infrastructure,
helps schools save on transportation costs, encourages sustainable habits by
our kids, and would increase ridership in our bus system. Eder’s idea for 1,000
affordable housing units in Bayside is also an important one. It’d help increase
Portland’s population and keep the downtown’s density up.

-Jed Rathband’s idea for renaming Washing Avenue at the base of Munjoy Hill
“International Boulevard” celebrates our immigrant heritage and recognizes the
commercial, economic, and quality of life contributions of Portland’s diverse

-Chris Vail’s best idea is that politicians should act like adults. It’s a not-so-
quiet reminder that no matter who wins on November 8th, the new mayor,
sitting city councilors, and city employees will have to work together to get
things done. This shouldn’t need saying, but it does.

-Hamza Haadoow’s best idea was simply running. True, his business and
development ideas are similar to many candidates’ in the race. But Haadoow
escaped civil war and refugee camps to come to the States, work his way
through college and grad school, raise a family in Portland, and, eventually, run
for mayor. His candidacy is a reminder that, even amid the worst economic
breakdown in 80 years, the American Dream is still alive.

Bad Ideas are Out There, Too
While there are many good ideas being pushed by candidates, there are also a
bunch of bad ones that Portland should avoid.
One of the worst is Peter Bryant’s call to put an end our blue bags. Portland’s
“pay as you throw” garbage system is one of the most successful recycling
programs in the state. By charging for garbage bags but providing free
recycling, Portland has created a market-driven system for encouraging
recycling. Hey Peter, if you don’t like the blue bags, use your blue bin more

Another bad one is Rathband’s plan to make 25 cold calls a day to out-of state-
businesses. Besides the ridiculous logistics of having our mayor spend almost
all of his/her time making 6,000 telemarketing calls a year, this approach to
encouraging businesses to move to Portland is a reminder of failed 1970s style
economic plans. Promising away tax incentives and pieces of Portland’s public
property to get big businesses to locate here won’t help. A better idea would be
investing in businesses that have already committed to being here in Portland
(an idea Brennan, among others, have been trumpeting).

Ethan Strimling’s big bad idea is his politician-speak. Hypocrisy should be put
in a blue bag and sent to the ecomaine incinerator. He continues to claim that
City Hall sunk the Maine State Pier development, even though he was one of
the few Portland legislators who didn’t raise a finger to save it. Some State
House insiders have even suggested that he worked to kill Olympia’s chance to
develop the Maine State Pier. He was against the pier before he was for it.

Nick Mavadones has a good idea, that is, at the same time, a bad one. His
campaign mantra is “vote for me because I won’t blow the whole thing up.”
Not blowing up Portland is a good idea (hey, we do have a great city). But
more of the same doesn’t move the ball forward. City Hall needs a shake up
and a leader who can put forth a vision.

Perhaps the worst idea, though, is Charles Bragdon’s opposition to Election
Day voter registration and the Peoples’ Veto campaign to save it. Portland is
full of apartment dwellers, recent retirees, young people, and people working
two or three jobs just to get by. The thing all of these demographics have in
common is that the ability to register to vote on Election Day makes their lives
easier and their voices heard. Since Election Day registration was introduced
38 years ago, our state has enjoyed increased voter participation and had
trouble-free elections. Electing a mayor is all about increasing representative
democracy. Let’s all embrace this idea by ranking as many mayoral candidates
as you like and by voting yes on state Question 1 to protect Maine voting rights.

--Will Everitt is a political nerd and a long-time proponent of an elected
mayor. Did I miss a bunch of good ideas? Send them to

Saturday, October 29, 2011
On the Campaign Trail...
David Marshall has the only quilted campaign sign in the city, sewn by
Lisa McNeil...John Eder dancing at Sudanese birthday party at the
Root Cellar...Nick Mavodones
at opening of new StoryWalk in Payson Park...
Michael Brennan
campaign rally at Empire Dine and Dance...Charles
compares Instant Runoff Voting with choosing you favorite ice
cream flavor...
Jed Rathband on the John McDonald show on WGAN...
Markos Miller
at Mama's Crow Bar with supporters...City Council candidate
Zeke Callanan and new bride noshing at Shay's in Monument Square...Jodie
and Ralph Carmona at We Love Munjoy Hill Festival...

Friday, October 28, 2011
Mayoral Candidates to Hit Middle
Students at Lyman Moore Middle School will host an hour-long forum for
Portland mayoral candidates on November 3rd at 8:45 a.m. in the café of the
school, located at 171 Auburn Street.  The public is invited to attend.

Seventh graders will introduce the candidates and conduct the forum.
The format will include a segment at the beginning where candidates
quickly answer questions by writing on whiteboards.  Students then will
ask each candidate a question.  

Following the forum, candidates will stay on stage for 45 minutes to
answer informal questions from Moore sixth graders, their parents and
community members.

Seventh graders are learning about oral presentation skills, the media
and local government.  Sixth graders are studying government and public
policy in a unit titled Election Connection.  They are comparing federal and
local governments and examining the recently updated Portland City Charter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Portland Chamber Endorses
Rathband for Mayor
Mayoral candidate Jed Rathband announced today that he has received the sole
endorsement of the Portland Community Chamber Political Action Committee.

“This endorsement underscores what I’ve been saying since the start of this
race. We need new leadership to bring the much needed economic
development that will help Portlanders find jobs, address rising property taxes,
and provide the tax base to improve our schools.”

Rathband is holding a press conference this afternoon at Tommy’s Park at the
corner of Exchange and Middle Streets at 3:30PM. He will be joined by
business leaders and individuals who support his campaign.

Saturday, October 15, 2011
Candidate Suspends Printing of
Weekly Newspaper
Portland Mayoral candidate Charles Bragdon has suspended the print edition of
The Portland Weekly Gazette, the local  newspaper that 'tells it like it is', which
he started publishing in early July. Bragdon said he would resume publishing
the paper after the election if he is not elected mayor. He will continue to
publish the online edition of the paper.

Bragdon said that he was suspending the print issue of the paper so that he
could focus on the last three weeks of the mayoral campaign. He also said that
the print readership of the paper did not match the online readership. He says
he printed between 2500 and 5000 copies of each issue, but had a return rate
of about 40%. He says that he has 8800 readers of the paper online.

Bragdon used the paper to promote his mayoral candidacy, as well as to offer
criticism of several of his opponents. The paper covers a variety of area issues,
and has featured a number of guest writers and commentators.

Bragdon said that did not lose money on any of the of the print issues he
produced, and actually turned a profit on a commemorative 9/11 issue. He said
that it was not his plan to make money on the project.

To see the latest online edition:

Friday, October 14, 2011
Strimling Blows Off the West End
Candidates Face a Barrage of Questions at WENA Forum
Mayoral candidate Ethan Strimling was the only one of the fifteen candidates
who was a no-show at the West End Neighborhood Association's Mayoral
Forum on October 12th at Reiche Community Center. About fifty people
attended the forum, and the candidates were asked questions dealing with
everything from taxes and recycling, to the civic center and the Narrow Gauge

Strimling, who lives and works directly across the street from the community
center where the forum was held, cited a previous commitment for his failure
to attend the most recent neighborhood forum. Strimling was attending a
fundraiser and house party hosted by State Representative Denise Harlow on
Kent Street in the Brighton neighborhood.

The candidates who did attend the forum were asked to prepare 90-second
answers to the questions, and each candidate responded to two questions drawn
at random from the list. Before the two rounds of questioning, each candidate
had the opportunity to introduce himself or herself by answering some short
questions, such as what was their favorite and least favorite thing about
Portland, and whether they had a pet. Mike Brennan told the West End
audience - with some hesitation - that the Eastern Prom was his favorite part
of the city, followed closely by the Western Prom. Several candidates
mentioned the cold winters as their least favorite part, including Hamza
Haadoow, a native of tropical Somalia.

Mayor Nick Mavodones mentioned traffic at the intersection of Franklin and
Commercial Street (where he commutes to work) as his least favorite thing.
Markos Miller said that he hates the Franklin Arterial,  Ralph Carmona
revealed that he hates the Civic Center, and can't wait to see it renovated, and
Dave Marshall expressed his dislike of uncleared sidewalks. There were a wide
variety of pets, both living and dead, canine and feline, as well as Jill Duson's
pet rock collection.

There were  sample ballots available for people to practice ranked-choice
voting, and WENA distributed a copy of each candidate's biographical
information that had been submitted to them. Candidates were also  invited to
bring campaign literature and place it on the display table which was be
provided.  Refreshments for the event were provided by WENA and its

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Teachers' Union Endorses
Members of the Portland Education Association (PEA) have endorsed Nick
Mavodones for Mayor as their #1 choice in the upcoming November elections.  
The Portland Education Association is comprised of educators in the Portland
schools and represents over 800 employees in Maine’s largest school district.
Mavodones is a former member of the Portland School Committee.

Educators from around the district participated in the screening interviews and
endorsement process.  All candidates were given an opportunity to appear
before a panel of educators and to answer questions covering a range of
topics. The PEA also endorsed Mike Brennan (2nd choice), Markos Miller
(3rd choice) and Ethan Strimling (4th choice).

Portland Tomorrow Endorses
Portland Tomorrow, an organization of local leaders, has announced its
endorsement for Portland’s first elected mayor in more than 80 years.
Following a series of interviews and meetings with the candidates, Portland
Tomorrow has endorsed the candidacy of Michael Brennan for the November
8th election for Mayor of Portland.

“Our interview process focused on identifying one or more candidates who best
meet the criteria for elected Mayor as described in the new City Charter,” says
Pamela Plumb, member of Portland Tomorrow and former Chair of the
Portland Charter Commission. “After careful
review of all the candidates, Portland Tomorrow believes that Mike Brennan
best meets this standard. He has proven success at bringing together different
constituencies to forge a consensus, including during his tenure as a State
Senator and Representative, a member of the
Muskie School of Public Service, and years of service with the United Way.
Mike also recognizes the need for economic development and job growth, and
we are convinced that his leadership will enable Portland to prosper.”

Portland Tomorrow developed four key criteria to measure each candidate:
(1) a strong vision for Portland; (2) broad support throughout the city; (3) a
commitment to the job; and (4) an ability to build consensus and to govern and
lead. Based on these criteria, Brennan scored
highest among all the candidates.

According to Plumb, “While there are many candidates in the field with a
wealth of civic and elected experience, as well as some promising future
leaders, Mike Brennan stands out as the best qualified at this time to
effectively lead the City of Portland forward.”

The November 8th mayoral election will be conducted using ranked choice
voting, which allows voters to fill out ballots by ranking, in order of
preference, some or all of the 15 official candidates. Plumb noted that the
members of Portland Tomorrow will be ranking the candidates,
in addition to a first choice, and encourages voters to rank at least five to six
candidates. Portland Tomorrow notes that, for voters who do not rank enough
candidates, there is a risk that their ballot might not be counted if none of the
selected candidates achieve a majority in any of
the early rounds.

Throughout 2011, Portland Tomorrow has worked to inform the public on how
an elected mayor can best fulfill the new Charter and Portland’s needs. That
process has included meeting with each of the official candidates, hosting a
public forum at the new Ocean Avenue School, and asking each candidate to
fill out brief questionnaires relating to their qualifications and views. The
candidates’ responses to these questionnaires are available for viewing at

Portland Tomorrow’s Steering Committee includes:
Michael Bourque, President, Portland Community Chamber of Commerce;
Senior Vice President for External Affairs at MEMIC;
James Cohen, former Vice-Chair of the Portland Charter Commission and
former Mayor and Portland City Councilor; vice-chair, Portland Regional
Chamber; former president, North Deering Neighborhood Association, attorney
at Verrill Dana;
 Kimberly Cook, principal of Government Strategies, served as the Treasurer
of the “Elect Our Mayor, Yes on 1” campaign;
 Glenn Cummings, former Majority Leader and Speaker of the House of the
Maine House of Representatives; President of Good Will Hinckley;
 Peter Eglinton, former Chair of the Portland School Board; Principal
Associate at Abt Associates;
 Will Everitt, former Executive Director of the Maine League of Young
Voters; Development Director at Friends of Casco Bay; Political commentator
for the West End NEWS.
 Pamela Plumb, former Chair of the Portland Charter Commission and
former Mayor and Portland City Councilor; co-owner of Great Meetings! Inc.;
 Nathan Smith, former member of the Portland Charter Commission and
former Mayor and Portland City Councilor; co-founder of Portland Trails,
attorney at Bernstein Shur;
 Kate Snyder, Chair of the Portland School Board;
 John Spritz, former member of the Portland Charter Commission; former
president of the Back Cove Neighborhood Association.

Monday, October 10, 2011
Homeless Voters to Meet With
Mayoral Candidates
Preble Street Homeless Voices for Justice has invited all 15 candidates running
for Portland mayor to a voter education forum for homeless voters at the
Preble Street Soup Kitchen on Wednesday, October 12 at the Preble Street
Soup Kitchen, 252 Oxford Street.  A Breakfast Forum begins at 9:30am and a
Lunch Forum begins at 1:00pm
Candidates have been invited to share a meal with the people using Preble
Street services, and participate in an open discussion and question and answer

Given the large candidate field, two sessions will take place, one immediately
after the breakfast soup kitchen meal and one after the lunch meal.

The candidates’ forum is a key component of Homeless Voices for Justice
ongoing voter education efforts, and gives candidates the opportunity to listen
to people who are experiencing homelessness or poverty.

Preble Street is the leading provider of basic and essential services to Portland’
s homeless and low-income residents, and serves an average of 500 people
each day, many of whom are already registered voters, representing a sizable
cross-section of Portland.   

Homeless Voices for Justice is a consumer advocacy program that conducts
"You Don’t Need a Home to Vote" voter registration and education drives
every year and has registered almost 2,000 voters.   

Wednesday, October 12
Breakfast Forum, 9:30 a.m.
Lunch Forum, 1:00 p.m.
Preble Street Soup Kitchen, 252 Oxford Street, Portland

On the Campaign Trail...
Still waiting for campaign signs from several of the candidates...John Eder
will study in
Ireland on a scholarship if he doesn't get elected mayor...Ralph
looking for votes on India Street...Nick Mavodones and Dave
(who wants to bring street cars to downtown) shoveling dirt at
kickoff of the new
Taylor Street Park...Candidates getting swamped with
questionnaires from potential endorsers...
Peter Bryant promises to end the
blue bag trash collection system...
Jed Rathband bumper sticker spotted in
Massachussetts... Michael Brennan at Occupy Maine rally at Lincoln Park...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Absentee Voting  for November
Election Begins
Starting Thursday, October 6th at 9:00 AM, all Portland voters can vote by
absentee ballot for the November 8th election. Registered voters can request an
absentee ballot by phone, fax, email, ,online or in person at the City Clerk’s
Office. Voters voting by absentee ballot will receive a state ballot and one city
ballot, and should review the instructions included with the absentee ballot
before voting. All ballots in this election are double-sided.

Voters have the option of voting absentee in person at the City Clerk’s office
during regular office hours, Monday through Friday 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
until Thursday, November 3, 2011. The City Clerk’s office will extend their
hours until 8:00 PM November 3rd to accommodate the change in state
absentee voting laws.

Last November, City of Portland voters approved Charter Commission
amendments, which called for a citywide election for the city’s Mayor through
ranked choice voting. The first ranked choice voting election for Mayor will be
this November. Ranked choice voting allows voters the opportunity to rank as
many of the Mayoral candidates as they would like according to preference.
Voters will rank candidates in order of 1st choice, 2nd choice and so on, until
either the voter no longer has a preference or all candidates have been ranked.
If on Election Day, no one candidate receives a majority (50% plus one) of the
first choice votes cast, an instant run-off re-tabulation will be conducted the
following day by the City Clerk with support from TrueBallot until a candidate
receives a majority of the votes. Following the initial tally of votes, the
candidate with the fewest first choice votes will be eliminated, and those
ballots will be re-tabulated to the voter’s second choice candidate. Successive
rounds of candidate elimination and re-tabulation will continue until one
candidate receives a majority.

College students interested in voting in this election should consider applying
for an absentee ballot. Parents visiting a college student may request a ballot
in writing and bring it to their child at school. The ballot can be sent back with
the parents after voting or returned by mail. When mailing an absentee ballot,
make sure to post the ballot with enough time to ensure that it is received by
the City Clerk by 8:00 PM on Election Day, Tuesday November 8, 2011.

To receive an absentee ballot, you must be a registered voter. To register to
vote in Portland, you must bring identification and proof of Portland
residency to the City Clerk’s office. A driver’s license or state identification
card with the current address meets both criteria, otherwise, a checkbook, car
registration, or a piece of personal mail addressed to the applicant at the
current address will suffice. On Election Day, Portland residents can register
to vote at their polling place.

For up-to-date information about voting this November, visit
com or call the city’s voter hotline at 874-8677.

City Clerk’s Office Hours, Room 203   9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
City Hall, Portland

Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Candidates to Face a Barrage of Questions
at West End Mayoral Forum
The West End Neighborhood Association has sent the fifteen mayoral
candidates a list of questions for the WENA Mayoral Forum on Wednesday,
October 12th, at Reiche Community Center.

The candidates will be asked questions dealing with everything from taxes and
recycling, to the civic center and the Narrow Gauge Railroad. For a complete
list of the questions, click

There will be a short WENA meeting at 6:30, followed by the forum at 7PM.
Both events will be held in the community room upstairs at Reiche at 166
Brackett Street. If the crowd is too large, however, it will migrate to the
auditorium on the first floor.

The candidates have been asked to prepare 90-second answers to the questions.
Each candidate will respond to two questions drawn at random from the list.
No question will be repeated. Before the two rounds of questioning,  Each
candidate will have the opportunity to introduce himself or herself by
answering some short questions.

Candidates have been invited to make written responses to the questions, and
the public will receive copies of the responses after the forum. There will also
be sample ballots available for people to practice ranked-choice voting.

WENA will distribute a copy of each candidate's biographical information that
has been submitted to them. There will be space on this program for audience
members to make notes on each candidate.

Candidates have also been invited to bring campaign literature and place it on
the display table which will be provided.  

Refreshments will be available, provided by WENA and its members.

Thursday, September 29, 2011
Promises and Precedents
The official 15 candidates are: Charles Bragdon (publisher/editor Portland
Maine Gazette), Mike Brennan (Muskie School of Public Service), Peter
Bryant (retired merchant marine), Ralph Carmona (local activist, retired
professor), Richard Dodge (business owner), Jill Duson (current City
Councilor, Department of Labor), John Eder (former State Rep), Hamza
Haadoow (local business owner), Jodie Lapchick (PR consultant), David
Marshall (current City Councilor, Fine Artist), Nick Mavodones (current City
Councilor, Casco Bay Lines), Markos Miller (Deering High teacher), Jed
Rathband (PR consultant), Ethan Strimling (leave of absence from Learning
Works) and Christopher Vail (Portland firefighter).

Mike Brennan promises to invest in our schools and build stronger partnerships
between the city’s school systems and the colleges in our community. David
Marshall proposes that we seek federal funding to bring streetcars back to
Portland. Jed Rathband has promised to make 25 cold calls a day to out-of-
state businesses to lure them to Portland (does he know he just promised 6,000
cold calls a year?). Ethan Strimling promises to be the city’s CEO. Nick
Mavodones, the current ceremonial mayor, promises to keep Portland, well,
Portland and  “not blow the whole thing up.”

All politicians are full of promises. It’s their stock in trade.

When you hear a promise, the question a savvy voter should ask is just how do
you plan on doing that?

What separates Portland’s mayoral election from nearly every other type of
election we’ve had in this city over the past four-score and eight years is that
there is no mayoral precedent to go on. When you read the U.S. Constitution,
the powers of the President sound bare-bones. We needed a first president to
set a precedent, to put flesh on the bones.

This election is Portland’s 'George Washington moment,' to borrow a phrase
from John Eder, who borrowed it from me in the first place (and gives me a
nickel every time he says it).

The Charter Commission’s final report about new mayoral position explains
that it “is not an executive mayor, but rather is a ‘policy’ mayor who remains
a member of the Council and has substantial influence over the policy
direction of the City.”  

So, are the promises our candidates are making even possible to accomplish
under the authorities given to our new mayor under our new charter?

Ceremonial Mayor Mavodones likes to point out that the biggest difference
between the new job and the old one is that the new mayor will serve for four
years. To him, perhaps, this means four more years of ribbon cuttings and not
blowing things up, easy enough promises to keep.

But there are other more important powers the new mayor has.

For example, the mayor is now charged with setting annual goals of the City
Council and setting the agenda for the council’s meetings (a job done by the
City Manager, currently). The mayor is also charged with giving an annual
State of the City Address to report out on these goals. This means that, to a
large degree, the new mayor will be able to steer the ship. But much like
steering one of the ubiquitous cruise ships in our harbor, the City will not be
able to turn on a dime; the mayor is still a member of the council and will need
a majority of his or her colleagues to agree on any new direction.

Current councilors like Duson, Marshall and Mavodones certainly know a lot
about this process. Those tax incentives Rathband will want to offer to some
business from Texas in order to move to Portland will have to be voted on by
the entire city council. The mayor does not have the power to unilaterally move
policy forward.

The long-shot candidate Peter Bryant recognized this truth when, while
answering a question at the League of Young Voters’ mayoral forum earlier
this month that the “Biggest challenge, for me, will be working with the city

There are a handful of candidates who have been embracing the role of
consensus-builder inherent in our new charter.

“The job appeals to me because consensus-building is what it takes to get
things done,” said Mike Brennan, pointing to his work creating the
Cumberland County Affordable Housing Venture, where he worked with local
governments throughout the county, the Chamber of Commerce, and the United

“The new position of mayor calls for someone with collaborative skills - a
consensus builder, someone who can define a common vision for the city,” says
Markos Miller. A Deering High teacher and a community organizer, Miller
sees himself as someone who can bring the city council together on issues that

The new mayor position also changes the relationship between the Mayor and
the City Manager. Under Portland’s Charter, the City Manager has full
responsibility for hiring, firing and supervision of all City employees, except
the city attorney and the City Clerk.  In that sense, the City Manager, not the
Mayor is the “CEO” of the City (sorry, Ethan Strimling). But under the new
Charter, the Mayor is charged with the annual evaluation of the Manager and
oversight of that process. If the process sets annual goals, then there will be a
level of accountability for the City Manager and the staff under him. For those
running to bring more accountability to City Hall, this is one of the levers of

The new mayor will also be charged with officially facilitating the passage of
the school budget. While we have a separate school board to oversee our
schools policies and implementation of the budget, it’s in this role of official
facilitator that the new mayor can move educational goals forward.

A lot of candidates promise to increase Portland’s visibility and importance on
the state and federal stage. This role is specifically called out by the Charter
Commission’s final report: “Portland needs a popularly-elected leader who
can represent our city in our interactions with other municipalities, the state
and Federal governments, business interests, and the many entities that look
for a unified voice speaking as the public face of local government.”

Once again, this is a point Brennan has been driving home.

“We lost $1 million in state aid this year and no one in Portland’s city
government fought to stop it. I understand the state funding formula and the
legislative process. As mayor, I’ll fight to ensure we get our fair share,” says

Finally, the new mayoral position calls for more involvement and
accountability regarding the city budget. Up through this year, it is the role of
the City Manager to present the budget to the Council. Under the new charter,
the mayor is called to provide policy guidance to the City Manager, who is
required to use that guidance in his budget. If the mayor does not feel that the
budget meets the needs of Portland’s residents, he or she could veto it. This
guidance, threat of a veto, and the bully pulpit that comes along with being
mayor are perhaps the most powerful levers of power the new mayor will have
to direct his or her vision for the city.

So when you hear a promise from one of the 15 mayor wannabes, be sure to
ask what lever they’re going to use to make that happen.

Another Ambiguity from Strimling
A local political do-gooder pointed out to me the ironic ambiguity of Ethan
Strimling’s slogan on his canary yellow signs: “He’s proven we can do better.”
That we can do better than him? Hmm. It is unclear if upon filing his
campaign expenditure reports, he has to report the signs as an in-kind gift to
the 14 other candidates.

-Will Everitt is a political nerd and a long-time proponent of an
elected mayor. Many thanks to former Charter Commissioner
Nathan Smith for help with this article. Please send comments,
complaints, and ideas to

Preamble to Portland Maine’s City Charter
We, the People of Portland, Maine, establish this Charter to secure the
benefits of local governance and to provide for the general health, safety and
welfare of our community.  In so doing, we build a government that meets
the needs of the people it serves and whose character it reflects. Our
government shall further cooperation, encourage leadership, solicit our input
and support the active participation of our residents in their governance. Our
government shall be effective and accountable and shall promote equal
rights and representative democracy. Our government shall provide public
education that enables all residents to acquire the knowledge and skills
necessary to participate fully in Portland’s civic, intellectual, cultural and
economic life, in order to enrich and strengthen our community and our
common future.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Candidate Releases Animated Video
Explaining Ranked Choice Voting
Portland mayoral candidate Jed Rathband's campaign has released an
animated video depicting two Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) scenarios to help
voters understand how RCV works. RCV is gaining popularity across the U.S.
as more voters want to see a clear majority elect their leaders, however
confusion about the system has some voters turned off about it from the start.

“Voters in Portland are a little confused about the nature of Ranked Choice
Voting so naturally they are distrustful of the process,” Rathband said “that’s
why I’ve responded with a simple animated explanation of how RCV works in

The video lasts one minute and forty-three seconds, and depicts a scenario of
four candidates. The first scenario shows one candidate  winning on the first
ballot with just over 50% of the votes cast.

In the next scenario the election goes down to the 3rd ballot, and
shows how the second choice candidate is eventually the winner.

“It’s really a simple system and I encourage people to have a good
understanding of RCV and the candidates as they head in to the election booth
on November 8th,” Rathband said.
To view the video go to  The link is at the top of the

Monday, September 26, 2011
League of Young Voters Endorses Five
Candidates in Mayoral Race
Marshall, Brennan at the top of the list

The Maine League of Young Voters has endorsed five candidates in the
upcoming mayoral race. The slate endorsement includes #1 David Marshall, #2
Michael Brennan, #3 John Eder, #4 Markos Miller and #5 Jed Rathband.

The League  set its endorsements for the November 8th election at the annual
Project Vote meeting last Thursday, September 22nd, at Zero Station. Dozens
of members who volunteered at least eight hours of time in the last year were
invited to vote on a slate of five endorsements in the Mayoral race, using
Ranked Choice Voting.

Zeke Callanan’s campaign for City Council District 4 and Josephine Okot’s
bid for the At Large School Board seat also received The League's
endorsement. Justin Costa was also endorsed in his race for School Board
District 4.

The League is already throwing weight behind the Yes on 1 campaign to save
Same Day Voter Registration and urging a “No” vote on questions 2 & 3
about gambling. The League also supports a “Yes” vote on Question 4, the
Constitutional amendment and a “Yes” on the County bond Question about
revamping the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Full results and write ups will be printed in the 2011 Voter Guide set for
release October 8th. The League of Young Voters will also be posting all
questionnaires and interview materials online on October 8th at

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 League to Endorse Top Five Rank Choice
Candidates The League of Young Voters will hold its Project Vote on
Thursday, September 22nd, at Zero Station, 222 Anderson Street in East
Bayside, from 6 to 8 PM. All League members who volunteered eight hours or
more since the last election will be deciding on the League's endorsements for
2011.  The seven-member Elections Committee has decided that the
organization will be endorsing the top five ranked-choices for Mayor,
mirroring the format of the actual election. Absentee ballots are also available
by contacting

The League will also soon be publishing its 2011 Voter Guide. The Election’s
Committee is currently sifting through questionnaires, doing interviews, follow-
up interviews, and analyzing their recent candidate forum. To watch the
candidate forum in its entirety, click

Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Mayoral Candidate Pushes for
Citywide Preschool Option
Markos Miller, candidate for Mayor, has announced his support for Portland
School District Superintendent Jim Morse‘s proposal to provide the option of
public preschool to all 4-year-olds in the district.

Citing research conducted by University of Chicago Professor James Heckman,
Miller noted that, “funding preschool actually saves the government money in
the long run, provides a foundational education for our children, and is
perhaps the policy investment where taxpayers get the most bang for their

Miller elaborated on the funding for this proposal saying that half the costs
could be covered by the Federal Head Start program, the school district could
pay a quarter of overall costs and then have that investment matched by State

Miller is a public school teacher, part owner of a small family business, and a
former President of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization.

Monday, September 19, 2011
Mayor Race Heats Up as Rathband
Blasts City Leadership
Mayoral candidate Jed Rathband has taken off the gloves in Portland's
mayoral race, citing what he calls "the insufficient leadership by the current
mayor and city government."

Rathband said that the recent approval of sixteen housing units at the former
Adams School on Munjoy Hill "underscores the missed opportunity and failed
policy initiatives that have come to define the approach our city makes when
preparing for the future."

“There is nothing affordable about a project that so woefully under-utilizes
such a valuable piece of land,” he said during a debate last week sponsored by
the League of Young Voters.

“In this case sixteen units on nearly two acres of land on the most densely
populated piece of real estate in the city is more than just poor planning, it’s
failed leadership.”

Rathband has promised to make affordable housing and the effective
integration of the business, non-profit and government sectors a central
objective of his mayorship.

He also accused current Mayor Nick Mavodones of a lack of leadership and
what he called a "half-hearted effort made by the mayor" to assure passage of
the bond to revitalize the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Eder Makes Downtown Chain Stores
an Issue in Mayoral Race
Mayoral candidate John Eder says that the Portland City Council should bring
back the anti-formula business ordinance. Eder's comments come in response
to the news that the national clothing chain Urban Outfitters will be opening a
store on Middle Street in the Old Port.
"There goes the neighborhood!" says Eder. "The Mall of America descends on
the Old Port!"

The City Council in 2006 adopted an ordinance that restricted the
establishment of some formula retail stores and restaurants in the downtown
and adjacent commercial areas, but it was repealed several months later.

City Councilor and mayoral candidate David Marshall was a sponsor of the
repeal the Formula Business Ordinance. After its repeal, the Council created
the Task Force for Business Diversity, of which Marshall was named co-chair.
Its task was to try achieve a  balance between locally-owned businesses and
national chains, and maintain the character of downtown Portland. The
Formula Business Ordinance had many legal issues, according to Marshall,
including that fact that it was not reviewed by the Planning Board. After the
repeal of the FBO,  the two-year long task force was not able to find a legal
way to ban formula businesses.

Friday, September 16, 2011
Two Neighborhood Associations to Host
Mayoral Events
On Wednesday, September 21st, the Back Cove Neighborhood Association is
co-sponsoring a Mayoral Candidates' "Meet N' Greet" at the Ocean Avenue
Elementary School from 7-9pm.  This will be an opportunity to talk directly
with candidates, ask questions, and circulate among the wide field of
individuals running for the Mayor of Portland.  Refreshments will be
provided. Thirteen of the fifteen official candidates are expected to attend.
• Wednesday, September 21, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
• Ocean Avenue Elementary School, 150 Ocean Avenue
FMI, contact John Spritz, 773-0872,

The West End Neighborhood Association plans to host a mayoral candidates'
forum at its October meeting on Wednesday October 12th. WENA is soliciting
questions from the public, and will compile a list of questions that they will
distribute to all the candidates. On the night of the forum, each candidate will
be asked two questions drawn at random from the pool of questions.  
Questions can be submitted by e-mail to:
Questions must be submitted by Wednesday, September 28th.
  • Reiche Community Center, 166 Brackett Street, Portland. Next
    one is Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 at 6:30p.m.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
On the Campaign Trail...
John Eder and his dog Angel at Congress and Park Street...Jed Rathband and
supporters on the cruise ship Lucky Catch...Jill Duson talking to business
owners in the West End...Dave Marshall campaigning by bike in Back Cove...
Markos Miller at Hannaford's meat counter...Two City Councilors turned away
from filled-to-capacity mayoral forum at Lucid Stage...Weird moment:
Candidate Peter Bryant demanding to know if candidate (and City firefighter)
Chris Vail has a license to drive a firetruck (Answer: Yes.)...One campaign
volunteer called City Hall to ask if it was legal to work for two campaigns at
the same time. (Yes, it's okay.)...Ralph Carmona said "I feel like a beauty
queen" while spinning the wheel at League event...Jill Duson and Jodie
Lapchick at West End Neighborhood Association...

State Theatre to Host Mayoral
Candidate Forum on the Arts
A Debate That Goes to the Heart of the Arts

The Portland Music Foundation (PMF) and the Portland Arts & Cultural
Alliance (PACA) are teaming up to present a Portland mayoral forum focused
on issues and policies related the city’s arts, culture and music community on
Monday, October 3rd from 6 to 8 pm (doors open at 5 pm) at the State Theatre
at 609 Congress Street. The event is free and open to the public.

All qualified candidates for the position of Portland’s first elected mayor have
been asked to participate in a 90-minute session consisting of multiple rounds
of questions pertaining to Portland’s creative community. Community members
may submit questions to the candidates for consideration in advance by posting
them on the Facebook page of either PMF or PACA, or by emailing

For more information on the Portland Music Foundation, see www.

For more information on the Portland Arts and Cultural Alliance, see www.

Sunday, September 11, 2011 Candidate's Dispute
With City Clerk Continues
Mayoral candidate Erick Bennett, whose nomination papers fell five signatures
short of the required 300 signatures, is vowing to continue his campaign for
mayor despite his dispute with the City Clerk's office over how many registered
voters signed his petition.  On August 29th, Bennett submitted 392 signatures,
but was told that only 295 were registered voters. After auditing the signatures,
Bennett says that he discovered five signatures of people he knew personally
who were registered voters, two of whom the City Clerk accepted, leaving
Bennett's petition still three signatures shy.

One of those remaining signatures was rejected, according to City Clerk Kathy
Jones, because the signer signed a different name than the name under which
he is registered, and the other two signers did not appear at the City Clerk's
office to dispute her ruling. (If the other two voters had been accepted, the
petition would still have been one signature short.)

Bennett was informed that he could appeal the clerk's actions in court, a
process that would last beyond the actual election. Bennett says he will
continue in the race as a write-in candidate.

Friday, September 9, 2011
Brennan, Marshall Top League
Poll in Mayor's Race
Portland mayoral candidates Mike Brennan and Dave Marshall finished first
and second in a poll taken by the League of Young Voters after its 'So You
Think You Can Mayor' forum held on September 8th.

The event drew a capacity crowd of over 100 Portlanders to Lucid Stage, and
featured all fifteen candidates. Candidates Markos Miller, Jed Rathband, and
Nick Mavodones, also finished in the top tier of favorite candidates, voted on
by people attending the event, who were handed a ballot to fill out at the end
of the forum. 109 informal ballots were cast.

At the end of the evening,  audience members were invited to submit an
informal Ranked Choice Vote ballot for their picks for Mayor. In this poll,
they were asked the question: "Given what you’ve seen this evening- If the
election were tonight, how would you Rank Choice Vote the candidates for

1. Michael Brennan
2. Dave Marshall
3. Markos Miller
4. Jed Rathband
5. Nick Mavodones
6. John Eder
7. Hamzaa Haadoow
8. Ethan Strimling and Chris Vail (tie)
9. Jill Duson
10. Charles Bragdon, Peter Bryant and Jodie Lapchick (tie)
11. Ralph Carmona and Richard Dodge

The format of the forum presented the candidates three at a time, addressing a
wide variety of city issues ranging from City finances to public transportation
to housing. The candidates were also allowed to directly address other
candidates, and several used the opportunity to grill Mavodones, the current
mayor, on policies he has pursued in his fourteen years on the City Council.

Highlights from the event included:

·      Each candidate answered the question – What will be your biggest
challenge as Mayor and how will you overcome it? Responses ranged from
City Council, to improving Portland economy and changing zoning laws.

·      Each candidate responded to one question from a diverse set of categories
including: Neighborhood Development, Justice, Leadership and Advocacy and

The event will be rebroadcast on Saturday, September 17th from 7pm to 9pm
on WMPG and will also be broadcast on CTN - date and time to be
announced. The full video will be online and available at The League's blog
by next week.

Results are also available on The League's  website:

For a simple explanation of Ranked Choice Voting process and procedure:

Friday, September 2, 2011
Candidates to Kick Off Campaign
at Portland Club
The Portland Club will be the site of the first mayoral event of the campaign
on Tuesday, September 6th, from 7pm to 10pm. The Portland Club is located
at 156 State Street, just down from the Longfellow statue, on the right before
Mercy Hospital. The event is free to the public.
There will be a photo op featuring all of the candidates together - all have
indicated that they'll be attending - at 7pm sharp. After the photo op, each
candidate will step up to the mic to deliver a three minute statement,
presumably relative to why people should vote for them for mayor.  Following
that, the candidates will adjourn to individual tables in the ballroom  to host
the public and the media for as long as they wish. The candidates can get up
from their tables and circulate throughout the mansion for further interaction
if they wish.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Bennett to Ask for Recount After
He Falls Five Signatures Short in
Mayoral Race
Plans to Run as Write-in Candidate Mayoral candidate
Erick Bennett has announced that he will ask for a recount, and that he will
run as a write-in candidate, after his campaign came up five signatures short
of qualifying him to be listed on the ballot.

Bennett says his Facebook page has received 60 thousand views in the last five

" We are going to proceed and I am going to run as a write-in candidate," said
Bennett on his Facebook page. "My name is still going to be on the ballot
because people are going to write it on."

The Portland City Clerk's office informed Bennett on Tuesday  morning that
his signature-gathering effort to be on this fall's ballot has fallen five votes
short of the required 300 signatures. Bennett actually got 392 signatures,
according to City Clerk Kathy Jones, but 97 of them were deemed invalid,
bringing his final tally to 295.

Bennett was one of the earliest candidates to enter the race, having declared
his candidacy in April. He is a Republican who worked of the electoral
campaign of Governor Paul LePage.

"I am going to discuss a recount with (elections administrator) Bud Philbrick,
for no other reason than quality assurance purposes," said Bennett.
"Throughout my experience with the clerk's office, there have been multiple
errors, and out of 400 signatures I passed in, to only fall five short, I want to
go over every one of those 97 that were deemed invalid to make sure none
were overlooked."  

Jones said she was uncertain what the exact process would be for a candidate
requesting a recount of his signatures, or if the administrator's initial decision
could be changed or reversed after the deadline for turning in signatures had

The City Clerk's office also reported that candidate Charles Bragdon turned in
315 validated signatures, qualifying him for the ballot. The signatures of
candidate Richard Dodge were also validated by the end of the day.  

Monday, August 29, 2011
Mayor Race Down to Sweet 16
The field of candidates in the race for Portland Mayor is set at 16, after
candidate Richard Dodge became the last candidate to hand in the required
minimum of 300 signatures just before today's final deadline. Dodge's
signatures must still be verified by the City Clerk's office, along with the
signatures of candidates Erick Bennett and Charles Bragdon.  The other
thirteen candidates, whose signatures have all been verified, include Mayor
Nick Mavodones, City Councilors Jill Duson and David Marshall, former State
Senators Michael Brennan and Ethan Strimling,Jed Rathband, Jodie Lapchick,
Ralph Carmona, Markos Miller, Christopher Vail, Hamza Haadow, Peter
Bryant, and former West End State Rep John Eder.  Portland Sun columnist
Bob Higgins, who just entered the race last week, failed to turn in signatures,
along with several other declared candidates who had dropped out earlier.  

Full House Expected for First Mayoral Forum Location of Event is Changed
to Accommodate Larger Crowd  The Maine League of Young Voters PAC has
confirmed at least thirteen of the mayoral candidates for the 'So You Think
You Can Mayor' candidate forum on September 8th.  The League received a
high volume of RSVPs from community members for the event, and was forced
to change the location in order to accommodate all the  candidates and guests.
The location for the event has been changed to Lucid Stage at 29 Baxter
Boulevard, Portland. Details below.  The event will merge audience
participation with moderated conversations with the candidates.  The creative
format of the forum is designed to delve into the candidate’s positions on the
issues that matter most to Portland residents. Candidates will answer questions
from a given topic in small groups and will also have an opportunity for
conversation with each other. Audience members will be invited to submit
questions for consideration. The League expects between 80 and 100 leaders
from community organizations and neighborhood associations throughout the
city. The program will be rebroadcast on WMPG, and the League is working
on producing a Youtube video of the event.  League of Young Voters PAC
Presents: So You Think You Can Mayor – Candidate Forum When: Thursday,
September 8th 2011 – 7pm to 9pm, Doors Open at 6:30pm Where: Lucid
Stage, 29 Baxter Boulevard, Portland ** NOTE THIS IS A NEW LOCATION
** COST: Free and Open to the Public  

On the Campaign Trail... Mike Brennan at the White House for community
leader conference...Bob Higgins announced his candidacy on the 20th
anniversary of Hurricane Bob... Candidate teams to bowl against each other in
Mayoral Mixer at Bayside Bowl...Ralph Carmona endorsed by former mayor
Esther Clennott...John Eder running mayor campaign neighborhood clean-up
at the corner of Spring and Clark at Reiche School...Chris Vail to raise
campaign funds with a lobster bake on Peaks Island...Charlie Bragdon
shaking hands in front of Fresh Approach...Mavodones, Duson and Rathband
at Back Cove block party...Last day for the remaining candidates to get their
signatures in to the City Clerk's office...-Ed King

Monday, August 22, 2011
Jay York Drops Out of Mayoral Race Calls Elected Mayor process "deceitful"
East Bayside resident Jay York announced this afternoon that he has decided
to withdraw from the mayoral race in Portland, and took a few parting shots
at the process as he separated himself from it.  "When your campaign platform
includes not wanting the office, it's best not to get on the ballot," said York. "I
also could not in good faith sign and submit to the City Clerk the required
consent accepting the nomination, agreeing not to withdraw and, if elected, to
qualify."  York thanked the people who signed his nomination papers, but said
he was not surprised that most did not fully understand the duties and
"powers" of the new mayor, and that the Charter Commission designed the
office to limit and constrict the new mayor and to keep the existing power
structure in this city unthreatened.  "If you do not see this action by itself
deceitful, keep in mind that the Charter Commission must have known that the
main reason citizens in Portland wanted a popularly elected mayor was
because they were dissatisfied with the City Council's governing, thus requiring
a strong mayor. Last year's campaign for the city charter changes to allow this
new position also used deceit by avoiding full disclosure of how the new
mayor's duties differed from that of the existing mayor and other City
Councilors."  York charged that "no one questioned why City Councilor Cheryl
Leeman's 'Vote No" side did almost nothing."    "Councilor Leeman, like many
others who have in the past opposed a CEO type mayor in Portland, knew that
either way the charter change election went, they won. Many Portlanders now
think they are voting for a major change in City leadership, but in essence are
only voting for a full-time, at-large councilor with a salary."  "The City of
Portland needs far more in a mayor than it will be getting from this coming
election. In my opinion, the candidate who most deserves to be elected should
be the one that publicly acknowledges this and pledges to get the City Charter
changed to truly represent what the Portlanders who voted for an elected
mayor expected."  York's exit from the race leaves nineteen candidates
remaining. Over the weekend, candidate Zouhair Bouzrara dropped out, but
was replaced by Bob Higgins, a columnist for the Portland Daily Sun.  

Miller Campaign to Hold Event at Mitpheap Market
The mayoral campaign of candidate, Markos Miller plans to hold an event
tonight at the Mitpheap World Market at 61 Washington Avenue from 5 to 7
PM, to give voters an opportunity to meet the candidate and share their
concerns. Miller just returned from a family trip to Beirut, Lebanon, with his
wife Heather, who is of Lebanese descent, and their son Oliver. Miller  is a
teacher at Deering High School, announced his candidacy on June 8th. He has
been active in a number of roles in the East End community, including serving
as President of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization.  

Mayoral Candidate Takes Campaign into the Streets First event happening
tonight, August 22nd, at 6:30PM on the corner of Clifton and Codman Streets,
in the Back Cove neighborhood  Jed Rathband, candidate for mayor,
announced today on his website that he will launch a “street corner
conversation” tour of Portland’s neighborhoods beginning tonight in the Back
Cove neighborhood. Rathband  said that his objective is to bring the election
and his candidacy directly to the voters, and to promote proactive
conversations with residents to effect change - street by street.  Rathband plans
to visit Portland’s neighborhoods and discuss the upcoming election, his
candidacy, and answer questions on the minds of voters.  " I hope these ‘street
corner conversations’ which will consist of nothing more than engaged citizens
and an upturned soapbox that will lead to greater discussion about what
Portlanders expect from the new mayor.”  The schedule of the campaign’s tour
will include stops all across Portland - from Stroudwater to Parkside to Peaks
Island. On average, Rathband will be holding two discussions per week, with
the tour culminating with a pre-Election Day event in downtown Portland

Former Mayor Endorses Carmona
Former Portland mayor Esther B. Clenott has announced her support for
Ralph Carmona’s mayoral candidacy. Clennott is the former Portland Teacher
Association president, city councilor, mayor and county commissioner. Clenott
served as Portland's mayor from 1989 to 1990. She served as a Cumberland
County Commissioner for sixteen years before stepping down in 2009.She
initially opposed the need to elect the next mayor, but was mentioned early in
the campaign as a possible candidate. Carmona’s candidacy, she concluded
“gives new meaning to the position of mayor.”   

Saturday, August 20, 2011 Bouzrara Out, Higgins In Mayoral Race Mayoral
candidate Zouhair Bouzara announced yesterday that he is dropping out of
Portland's mayoral race, He is expecting to become a first-time father in
several months. He was one of the first announced candidates for the newly-
formed municipal post. While Bouzrara was getting out of the race, Portland
Sun columnist Bob Higgins was getting in. Higgins, 43, will have until August
29th to collect the 300 required signatures to become an official candidate. He
says he will be in Monument Square this afternoon to begin gathering
signatures. There are 20 candidates in the race.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
On the Campaign Trail...
Mavodones, Duson, Bryant, Eder, Haadoow, and Marshall first ones to turn in
their nominating papers...Jay York picking up a free newspaper (not this free
newspaper) in East Bayside...Charlie Bragdon in favor of allowing private
possession of fireworks in the city...Jed Rathband has the early lead in yard
signs... Jodie Lapchick at India Street CBD...Mike Brennan talking politics
outside the Muskie Center...Ralph Carmona in favor of restoring the
Cumberland County Civic Center...Erick Bennett says that his detractors are
'lame brains'...                                  
-Ed King  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Strimling Responds to Will Everitt's Maine State Pier Column
To the Editor;  Thanks to Will Everitt for agreeing with my assessment of the
Maine State Pier debacle; “Strimling is correct that the pier could have been a
powerful economic driver for the city. He is also correct that the pier was a
victim of politics.”  (See Who Really Killed the Maine State Pier? below) Most
residents of Portland who watched the process are very disappointed by all the
lost jobs, lost economic activity, and lost tax revenue.  It was a moment that
showed just how much we need strong leadership.  Indeed, I expect the failure
on the Maine State Pier is why we have switched to an elected Mayor form of
government.  However, the one point from the article I would like to address is
Mr. Everitt’s thought that my campaign theme of economic development and
easing the property tax burden could be interpreted as “a step to the right.”  I
am not sure who he is talking to, but most of the Democrats I speak to (from
progressive to conservative) have always felt that job creation is vital and
regressive property taxes hurt middle income families disproportionately.  That
is why when I was in the Senate, I worked to eliminate the tax on personal
property, to allow municipalities to administer a local property tax relief
program for those most vulnerable, and developed a bi-partisan bill to
overhaul our tax system which would have doubled the Homestead Exemption
for all Maine residents.  Indeed, if reducing the property tax burden and
creating jobs sounds “awfully close to the platform used by many Republicans
last summer” I can understand why they were swept into office.  Perhaps we
Democrats need to take back the issues that hurt working families and small
business, and stop worrying about the label someone might affix to our
efforts.  Ethan Strimling  

League Schedules First Mayoral Forum So You Think You Can Mayor? The
Maine League of Young Voters has scheduled the election season's first  
mayoral candidate forum, putting the 19 announced candidates on stage and
demanding: So you think you can mayor?! Charles Bragdon and Jed Rathband
were the first two candidates to accept invitations to the event.  The evening of
audience participation, civic engagement, political discourse and food and will
be held on Thursday, September 8th, from 7 to 9 PM at Lucid Stage, 29 Baxter
Boulevard.  The League invited voters to attend what it called a "first-in-a-
dog's-age, not-to-be-missed, once-in-a-lifetime (or,more accurately, every four
years) event to help you determine who is best suited to steer Portland
headlong into the future."

Who Really Killed the Maine State Pier?
Ethan Strimling entered the mayoral race with a lot of bravado, announcing
his candidacy from the Maine State Pier.
“A few years ago, proposals were put forth to turn this pier into a true jewel
for the city,” said Strimling, proclaiming his mayoral bid. “But today, here it
sits, a drag on the city’s budget, costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars
a year. It was a victim, not of the economy, but of politics and a lack of
vision.”  This is Strimling’s first race since coming in fourth in the
Congressional primary in 2008, and he’s recasting himself as a force for
economic development and business. A step to the right? Are we seeing a
different Ethan from the fighter for social justice many Portland voters were
used to hearing about when he was a state senator? As the Portland Daily Sun
reported, his vision for the city sounds “awfully close to the platform used by
many Republicans last summer.”  The failure to develop the pier seems to be
playing an important part in the narrative for why he’s running for mayor.
Strimling is correct that the pier could have been a powerful economic driver
for the city. He is also correct that the pier was a victim of politics.  “When I’
m talk to voters at their doors, they bring up the pier and they’re still angry
about it,” he said in a recent phone interview. “We had a $100 million
development that the city council couldn’t find a way to say ‘yes’ to. Voters
want a change from the status quo.”  But is Strimling so different from the city
council he’s lambasting? What role did he have, politically, in the death of the
pier development?  Let’s step back into time to find out who killed the Maine
State Pier. It turns out there is metaphorical blood on a lot of politicians’
hands.  In 2007, the Portland City Council began reviewing two proposals to
repair and develop the pier. There was political maneuvering from the start.
The process divided the city’s political camps into those who supported Kevin
Mahaney and the Olympia Companies’ plan, and those who supported Tom
Walsh’s Ocean Properties’. Both businessmen spent a lot of money in the
community, and made campaign contributions to shore up support. Olympia
had the better proposal and more public support, but Ocean Properties had
deeper pockets, employed Governor Baldacci’s brother, and garnered the
support of many prominent Democrats, including current mayoral candidates
Jill Duson and Nick Mavodones, as well as current City Councilor Dory
Waxman. After many months and a series of public meetings, the council said
“yes” to the development by selecting Olympia as the developer du jour.
Ceremonial Mayor Ed Susolvic was the deciding vote [he would pay a political
price for his role in the process, losing his re-election bid to Waxman in a
bitter fight].  In order to secure the necessary financing for the project,
Olympia needed the state to lease the submerged land under the pier to the City
for at least 75 years. So in 2008, Portland State Representative (and Speaker
of the House) Glenn Cummings worked closely with the City and submitted a
bill to do just that. The fate of the project was in the Legislature’s hands. This
is where Ethan Strimling comes in: he was Portland's state senator at the time,
and just beginning his run for the District 1 seat in the US Congress.  
Cummings’s bill, once again, pitted Olympia against Ocean Properties: if the
bill went down in defeat, Ocean Properties would be the only company left
standing, and the city council would have to work with them. The bill began
moving in the legislature in March of 2008. Two months before (January
2008) Tom Walsh, Ocean Properties’ President, made a $2,300 donation—the
maximum allowed by law—to Strimling’s campaign. The ten co-sponsors of the
bill included numerous Portland legislators. But Strimling was not one of
them.  Cummings doesn’t remember Strimling being involved one way or the
other with the bill.  Strimling defends his revisionist history of the pier saying,
“When I say the council didn’t say ‘yes,’ to this project, I mean they didn’t
find a way to make it happen. No excuses, recession or not, there was no
leadership from the City on this.”  Is this the pot calling the kettle black? At
best, Strimling was indifferent to the bill that could have saved Olympia’s plan
to develop the pier. At worst, he was pursuing the pro-Walsh agenda of
quashing the bill. Many Democrats were tying their future to Walsh and to
Baldacci. The bill was opposed by Baldacci’s Department of Conservation
(remember, the governor’s brother was a part of the Walsh team). The bill died
in committee.  The Baldacci administration and politics inside the state
legislature killed Olympia’s chance to develop the pier. But the $100 million
development project wasn’t down for the count just yet.  By this time, Suslovic
lost his council seat and it was Jill Duson’s turn to be the ceremonial mayor.
Duson was a member of the committee that reviewed each company’s plans
and knew what was at stake. She called Ocean Properties and asked if they
were still interested.  “I thought they were the right choice all along,” said
Duson recently. “So I called them up personally. But they moved on to focus
on their other investments.”  By that time the world economy had begun its
descent into the worst recession in 70 years and Ocean Properties did not want
to take any gambles.  If there’s a history lesson, it’s that whoever the future
mayor is, he or she is going to have to focus the council on the greater good of
Portland and not on the petty politics of parties, donors, and personal
relationships. The challenge for voters will be finding the candidate who can
do that.

Correction: Bragdon is a Publisher Charles Bragdon flagged
me down on the street the other day. “You’ve got to correct your column,” he
said. “I’m not a cabbie, I’m a newspaper publisher.”  Bragdon moved on from
his cab business earlier this summer to focus on publishing the Portland Maine
Gazette, a free weekly paper. If you can’t find it at your favorite newsstand,
you can look it up on Facebook.  Huston Out of Race? Steve Huston, a one-
time homeless activist with Preble Street who, according to anonymous sources
who know him, has waged his own private wars with substance abuse, may be
out of the race, having not yet picked up his nominating papers.  Will Everitt
is a political nerd and a long-time proponent of an elected mayor. Please send
comments, complaints, and ideas to   

Thursday, August 4, 2011 On the Campaign Trail...
Charlie Bragdon threatening to sue letter writer for libel over emails to
advertisers and distributors of his Portland Maine Gazette...Markos Miller
visiting Lebanon with family...Dave Marshall selling paintings at Festival of
Nations in Deering Oaks...Jed Rathband having coffee outside Washington
Avenue CBD...Mike Brennan surveying voters on what they think are the most
important issues...Erick Bennett says that as mayor, he will use a tank to run
over the parking meters in town...John Eder giving a speech at Southern
Maine Labor Council...                      
-Ed King

Friday, July 29, 2011 On the Campaign Trail... Mayor Nick Mavodones at  
the grand opening of Foley’s Bakery in Monument Square...Jed Rathband at
opening of Joe Lewis' new law office in Time&Temp Building...Mike Brennan
at Hannaford's fish counter...Jodie Lapchick and John Eder at David
Kaufman's Midsummer Party...Wonder if Mayor Mavodones gave Governor
LePage any tips on how to deal with the media after their recent summit...
Councilor Marshall upstairs at the Market House discussing policy with a
constituent...Charlie Bragdon has the whole family helping with the
distribution of his Portland Maine Gazette...Those are Rathband supporters
jogging around the Back Cove in their bright yellow tee shirts on Wednesday
evenings...                     -Ed King

Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Strimling to Run For Mayor
Former State Senator Ethan King Strimling will announce on Tuesday, July
26th, that he will be the 19th candidate to enter Portland's mayoral race,
according to the Portland Press Herald. Strimling is Executive Director of
LearningWorks (formerly Portland West). Strimling served six years as the
state senator from Portland. He gave up his senate seat in 2008 to run
unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for US Congress from Maine's First
District, a race won by the current Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. Strimling
also ran unsuccessfully for the Portland City Council in 1999, his first run for
public office. Strimling, 43, is a native of New York City. He lives in the West
End with his wife Mary Beeaker.                                                      -Ed

July 20, 2011 As of July 19th, there are 18 official candidates in the mayoral
race: Erick M. Bennett (temp worker), Zouhair Bouzrara (taxi cab driver),
Charles Bragdon (taxi cab driver), Mike Brennan (Muskie School of Public
Service), Peter Bryant (retired merchant marine), Ralph Carmona (local
activist, retired professor), Richard Dodge, Jill Duson (current City Councilor,
Department of Labor), John Eder (former State Rep), Hamza Haadoow (local
business owner), Steve Huston (homeless activist), Jodie Lapchick (PR
consultant), David Marshall (current City Councilor, Fine Artist), Nick
Mavodones (current City Councilor, Casco Bay Lines), Markos Miller
(Deering High teacher), Jed Rathband (PR consultant), Paul Schaefer
(WMTW videographer), Christopher Vail (Portland fire fighter), and John

Fire Fighter Wins Fight for Nomination Papers A little-
known provision in Portland employees’ contracts prevents them from running
for municipal office while they are working for our fair city may now be null
and void.  In a June 24th memo to the City Clerk, Gary Wood, the City’s
attorney, wrote: “You have asked whether a City employee can seek or accept
nomination or election to any office in municipal government. . . .The answer
to this question is ‘no’.” Wood goes on to quote a section of the City’s
personnel policies that states: “City, employees are to refrain from seeking or
accepting nomination or election to any office in municipal government.”  
Under this reading of the City’s rules, Portland firefighter Chris Vail was
initially denied nomination papers.  “I have spent the past week with Attorney
David A. Lourie working to get my packet, begun collecting signatures and
moving forward with my campaign,” said Vail subsequently in a prepared
statement. “After great work [my attorney] succeeded in convincing Portland’s
Corporation Counsel that I do have the right to run for mayor.” At a recent
City Council meeting, Councilors confirmed Vail’s right to run by doing away
that particular part of the personnel policy.  Meanwhile, Deering High teacher
Markos Miller, didn’t face the same dilemma because he’s an employee of the
School Department, not the City. Apparently, the personnel policies of school
employees read differently.  “It is my understanding of state law and the
school policies, based on some brief conversations today, that a teacher can
run for the Mayor or Council but you should confirm that conclusion directly
with the school department,” wrote Wood,  the City's  attorney, in response to
an email on this issue. “If elected, a teacher would have to resign his position
as a teacher, under the longstanding prohibition in our Charter, both old and
new, that says no member of the Council can be an employee of the City or
School Department during the term for which he or she was elected.”  -Will

July 9,2011 ...On the Campaign Trail... ...Ralph Carmona marching in the
Sudanese Independence Parade...Jill Duson at Harlan Baker's 'Jimmy Higgins'
performance at Lucid Stage...Jed Rathband collecting signatures at downtown
post office...City Councilor Dave Marshall holding fundraiser at home of
Green Party's Anna Trevorrow...Mayor Nick Mavodones accosted by petition
gatherers at First Friday Artwalk...Former state senator (and still undeclared
mayoral candidate) seen knocking on doors in District 3...Markos Miller
meeting with City Councilor Ed Suslovic at Hill House garden on Munjoy
Hill...Firefighter Chris Vail back in the race...Charlie Bragdon's new Portland
Gazette making some serious accusations against candidate Erick Bennett...
Zouhair Bouzrara running into some serious legal problems...                         -
Ed King  

July 4, 2011 Mayor Watch 2011 Mayoral Candidate Must Choose Between Job
and Campaign Says City Attorney
As of July 1st, there are 16 official candidates in the mayoral race: Erick M.
Bennett (temp worker), Zouhair Bouzrara (taxi cab driver), Charles Bragdon
(taxi cab driver), Mike Brennan (Muskie School of Public Service), Peter
Bryant (retired merchant marine), Ralph Carmona (local activist, retired
professor), Jill Duson (current City Councilor, Department of Labor), Hamza
Haadoow (local business owner), Steve Huston (homeless activist), Jodie
Lapchick (PR consultant), David Marshall (current City Councilor, Fine
Artist), Nick Mavodones (current City Councilor, Casco Bay Lines), Markos
Miller (Deering High teacher), Jed Rathband (PR consultant), Paul Schaefer
(WMTW videographer), and Christopher Vail (Portland fire fighter).  July is
when the rubber hits the road in the mayoral campaign.  July is when
candidates have to officially take out papers. Candidates will have nearly two
months, starting July 1 and ending August 27, to collect 300 signatures from
Portland voters in order to make the ballot in November. Up until this point in
the race, candidates merely had to register if they were planning on
fundraising for their campaigns.  This means that the list of candidates, which
has ballooned to 16 mayor-wannabes in recent weeks, will likely shrink, but
also grow. Shrink and grow? What?  Three-hundred signatures is not a lot of
signatures. A good petitioner can collect 15 to 30 signatures in an hour. If a
candidate has friends, family, and volunteers working for him or her, the
nomination papers can be completed in a day or two. But some candidates won’
t have the attention span, desire, skills, or campaign machinery to finish the
job. Some candidates might have a hard time finding 300 Portland voters that
think they should be on the ballot. [For example, I probably wouldn’t put my
John Hancock on the nomination papers of any candidate that has called my
West End News publisher a punk - and has been convicted of assault. Hi, Erick
Bennet!]  The list of candidates may shrink for another reason, too.  A little-
known provision in Portland employees’ contracts prevents them from running
for municipal office while they are working for our fair city. In a June 24th
memo to the City Clerk, Gary Wood, the City’s attorney, wrote: “You have
asked whether a City employee can seek or accept nomination or election to
any office in municipal government. . . .The answer to this question is ‘no’.”
Wood goes on to quote a section of the City’s personnel policies that states:
“City, employees are to refrain from seeking or accepting nomination or
election to any office in municipal government.”  This means that Portland
firefighter Chris Vail may have to consider whether or not it is worth it for him
to quit his job to be on the ballot.  “The city attorney and I have a difference
of opinion on this matter,” says Vail, who believes he has the right to both run
and keep his job. “I’m seeking representation on this matter. I am also
working through the City Council to get clarification to run.”  Meanwhile,
Deering High teacher Markos Miller, doesn’t face the same dilemma because
he’s an employee of the school department, not the city. Apparently, the
personnel policies of school employees read differently.  “It is my
understanding of state law and the school policies, based on some brief
conversations today, that a teacher can run for the Mayor or Council but you
should confirm that conclusion directly with the school department,” wrote
Gary Wood, Portland’s city attorney, in response to an email on this issue. “If
elected, a teacher would have to resign their position as a teacher under the
longstanding prohibition in our Charter, both old and new, that says no
member of the Council can be an employee of the city or school department
during the term for which he or she was elected.”  So the list of candidates will
likely shrink.  But the list of candidates is just as likely to grow, too. July is
when all candidates, whether they are fundraising or not, have to come out of
the shadows. Will former State Senator Ethan Strimling run? Will John Eder,
who said he plans on running but hasn’t registered to fundraise up until this
point, really jump in the race? Are there independently wealthy candidates
(who do not need to fundraise and therefore have not had to register up until
this point) step forward? The answer to some of these questions is sure to be
“Yes,” adding more aspirants into the mix.  On to the new crop of candidates!
Ralph Carmona officially entered the race this week, it seems like he’s been
running for months now. Which some may find funny since Ralph moved to
Portland from California last July, living here just shy of a year. Over the past
365 days, he’s helped the League of Young Voters push to re-establish voting
rights for legal immigrants, was named to the police department’s community
affairs advisory board, joined the board of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood
Organization, started a Portland’s Future program through the Osher Lifelong
Learning Institute, joined the Unitarian First Parish Church as an usher, and
was voted Vice Chair of the Portland Democrats, helping to organize their
annual Truman Dinner. A retired college professor, Ralph has become a social-
change gadfly.    “My chief focus will be fostering sustainable economic
growth, promoting quality of life issues, and providing a mayoral leadership
that is accessible, responsive, listening to all Portland residents and getting
things done,” replied Carmona, when asked why he was running.  He doesn’t
think being a newcomer to the city will affect his chance. “In a nation of
immigrants, it is not where you come from that matters, it is what you can do.
For many, my accomplishments and Portland sensibility are of someone who
has been here a lifetime.”  Hamza Haadoow is a Somali immigrant and a local
businessperson that feels like he is living the American dream—a dream that he
feels is threatened. “I enjoyed the freedom that we have and I would like to
practice and participate,” he wrote on why he’s running for mayor. “Our
youth are dropping out [of] schools, our businesses are loosing their share of
the market, and our tourists are not spending what they would like to spend in
our town.”   Will Everitt is a political nerd and a long-time proponent of an
elected mayor. He is a former state director of the League of Young Voters. He
lives at Longfellow Square. Please send comments, complaints, and ideas to  

July 2, 2011 Mayoral Candidate Publishes New Weekly Newspaper          
Portland mayoral candidate Charles Bragdon has begun publication of a new
weekly newspaper, The Portland Maine Gazette. Bragdon is shown above in
front of Paul's Market on Congress Street, posing with his new publication and
another well-known local rag. The Gazette will be free and will feature news,
articles, obituaries, restaurant reviews, events, schedules of goings-on in
Portland, and more.

Miller Campaign Plans Fundraiser, Barbecue The Committee to Elect Markos
Miller will hold a backyard BBQ cookout and fundraiser for Miller's mayoral
campaign this afternoon, Sunday, June 26th, between 4-7pm, at 17 Atlantic
Street on Munjoy Hill. Miller , who is a teacher at Deering High School,
announced his candidacy on June 8th. He has been active in a number of roles
in the East End community, including serving as President of the Munjoy Hill
Neighborhood Association.   Wednesday, June 15, 2011 Chipman Delays
Campaign Contribution Increase Concerned about contribution limits changing
in the middle of the campaign, and the impact this could have on Portland's
mayoral race, State Representative Ben Chipman successfully added an
amendment to L.D. 856 that will delay any changes until after the November
election. Without a delay, L.D. 856 would have doubled contribution limits for
Portland's mayoral candidates - six weeks before Election Day  "We should not
change the rules in the middle of the game. I am opposed to increasing the
contribution limits but if they are going to be increased, it should not happen
six weeks before Election Day," said Chipman.  Current law limits campaign
contributions for local and county candidates to $350 per individual. L.D. 856
would increase this limit to $750 per individual. If the bill had passed as
drafted, it would have taken effect 90 days from the day the legislature
adjourns, which would allow the change to take effect sometime in mid-
September. It will now take effect on January 1, 2012.  "This change would
drive up campaign fundraising and spending, and could have a huge impact
on the elected mayor's race in Portland," said Chipman.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Mayoral Candidate to Publish New Local Newspaper
Portland mayoral candidate Charles Bragdon has announced plans to begin
publication of a new newspaper.
The new publication, called The Portland Maine Gazette, will be free and will
feature news, articles, obituaries, restaurant reviews, events, schedules of
goings-on in Portland, and more. It will be published either daily or weekly,
according to Bragdon.

"As soon as the first issue is published, Portland will have a paper dedicated
to fair and accurate reporting, without holding back details that may be
considered personal or off-limits by other papers," said Bragdon in
announcing the new publication.

"One of the main reasons I am launching this paper is that I feel that some of
the local papers have become so biased that they do not give us accurate
stories all the time, as they fail to include comments and statements made by
interviewees that may have relevance but that they feel is out of step with their
pre-conceived notions of what they were writing about," said Bragdon.

Bragdon said that he is still working out details such as when the first issue
will be printed, how many copies will be printed, and where it will be
-Ed King

Monday, June 6, 2011
Markos Miller to Run for Mayor
Veteran Munjoy Hill activist and community leader Markos Miller announced
today that he will be a candidate in this fall's mayoral race. Miller filed papers
declaring his candidacy earlier today, and will formally announce his
candidacy at 5:15 PM this Wednesday, June 8th in Lincoln Park, at the corner
of Pearl Street and Congress Street. Miller holds a B.A. in Spanish, a M.S. in
Education, and has completed courses of study with the Urban Institute and
Harvard's Executive Education program. He is 42 years old and lives with his
wife and son on Atlantic Street.

Miller began serving the community as a member of the Munjoy Hill
Neighborhood Organization, serving as a two-term president for the MHNO,
which is credited with playing a key role in the revitalization of Portland's
East End. He has also served on City task forces to restructure the Community
Development Block Grant system, and to develop inclusive zoning housing
policies for the city. In addition, former City Manager Joe Gray appointed
Miller to the interviewing team during the search for Portland's Police Chief,
which resulted in the hiring of Chief James Craig. He has also led strategic
planning sessions for local non-profit organizations.

While Miller calls the Portland peninsula home, he also has a strong affinity
for the Deering neighborhoods, where he teaches at Deering High School.
Miller coordinates Deering's Unity Project, an anti-bullying and harassment
program recognized for its success in building positive school cultures. In
2010, his work as recognized by the Center for Preventing Hate. He also serves
on a task force charged with redesigning the district's professional evaluation
system. Miller was awarded a prestigious Fulbright scholarship in 2002.

According to his initial campaign press release, Miller believes it’s time for the
next generation of local leaders to step up, move beyond the  divisions of the
past, and chart out a new direction for Portland. Miller envisions a more
nimble municipal government, facilitating the broader efforts of the public,
non-profit, and business communities to tackle the challenges of today and to
seize the opportunities of tomorrow. Miller says that given ever shrinking
resources, increasing costs on residents, businesses, and government, and the
imperative to develop sustainable solutions to our local and regional
challenges, Portland needs a Mayor with the ability to communicate clearly,
foster creative problem solving, and build consensus. He aims to show voters
that he is just the man for the job.

Miller states that he has a proven track record of fostering inclusive,
transparent processes that engage the public in identifying their goals, creating
the social capital needed to act, and harnessing the strengths of our community
to take concrete steps to make those goals realities. He also says he
understands how to build the constructive, honest relationships with elected
officials and staff at the local, state, and federal levels that are needed to
produce results. He says he is proud to be a member of such a rich community,
which inspires his dedication to public service, as a professional, a community
volunteer, and an engaged citizen.

"Portland's vision for itself rings loud and clear as you read through our
guiding documents: a strong urban center that serves as the economic and
residential hub for the region, offering a high quality of life for all, with
vibrant neighborhoods, sustainable housing and transportation choices, strong
social and educational institutions, and a rich cultural context," says Miller.
“However, there has been a real disconnect between our stated goals and much
of our policy decisions and practices. Few have had the sustained courage or
energy to see these through. When I speak with residents, I hear our collective
aspirations, I get the big picture, and see how we can be connecting the dots to
reach our policy goals. Our resources our too limited to have City government
be muddling through by the grace of quality staff and the occasional heroic
efforts of a few city councilors. I have the ability to work with the council, the
new city manager, and the rest of our community to translate our goals into
tangible steps to move us closer to where we want to be as a community".

Miller says he believes that in each of the challenges facing our community, we
can find the kernel of that problem’s solution, citing his work as chair of
Portland's Franklin Street Redesign Committee, which is working to improve
traffic flow along the Franklin Street corridor, while also redeveloping acres
of unused land for public open space and mixed use development, generating
much needed long-term tax revenue for the city. "Our citizen-led effort has
successfully changed the discussion regarding Franklin; there are now
opportunities, where before we saw only problems," commented Miller, who
worked with a diverse stakeholder group, including the Maine Department of
Transportation on the effort. The Phase 2 Feasibility Study of the Franklin
design alternatives is expected to begin in the coming months.

June 4, 2011
Mayor Watch 2011
The Times They Are A-Changin’
As of June 1st, there are 12 official candidates in the mayoral race: Erick M.
Bennett (temp worker), Zouhair Bouzrara (taxi cab driver), Charles Bragdon
(taxi cab driver), Mike Brennan (Muskie School of Public Service), Peter
Bryant (retired merchant marine), Jill Duson (current City Councilor,
Department of Labor), Steve Huston (homeless activist), Jodie Lapchick (PR
consultant), David Marshall (current City Councilor, fine artist), Nick
Mavodones (current City Councilor, Casco Bay Lines), Jed Rathband (PR
consultant), and Christopher Vail (Portland fire fighter). Ralph Carmona
(retired professor) is likely to run, although has not turned in fundraising
registration papers as of the writing of this column.

The race it is a-changin’. The well-knowns are beginning to enter the race.

City Councilor Dave Marshall’s announcement last month began a new phase
of mayoral race. Voters are beginning to hear names they’ve heard before, as
previously elected officials and experienced pols are throwing their hats into
the ring.

Mike Brennan is the highest-ranking previously elected official to announce so
far. Brennan represented Portland as a State Rep for 8 years, and a State
Senator for 5 years.  

Brennan is a native Portlander, His grandmother emigrated from Ireland in
1909. Ironically, it was an influx of immigrants like his grandmother that
spurred a backlash in our city that did away with neighborhood city councilors
and the elected mayor back in the 1920s.

Brennan has been a strong voice for immigrants and working people over the
years. He was on the petitioners’ committee that put the immigrant voting
rights charter amendment on the ballot back in November (the proposal was
narrowly defeated). Now that voters have re-instated the elected mayor,
Brennan is proud to run for the office.

Mike is known as a grass-roots campaigner. He came in third in a six-way race
in the Democratic primary for Congress back in 2008—the seat Chellie Pingree
won. In that race, he raised more than $250,000 from more than 360 different
individuals, many of whom were from Portland.

Political World
Two of Dave Marshall’s city council colleagues have joined the mayoral fray:
current un-elected mayor Nick Mavodones and at-large councilor Jill Duson.

Mavodones was re-selected as the ceremonial mayor by the city council after
Cheryl Leeman mysteriously turned down the job.  Mavodones has served on
the council for more than a decade, and was unopposed in his last run for an
at-large seat in 2009.

While Nick has largely served as an uncontroversial councilor, his mayoral
announcement is a case statement of high irony. Voters may remember that
Nick opposed the elected mayor proposal. He didn’t have the vision to see the
positive aspects of having voters elect their mayor, yet believes he is the best
guy for the job. In his last mayoral acceptance speech, Nick promised a council
listening tour through the neighborhoods of Portland, centered on city issues.
Now that he has announced he is running for mayor, maybe the listening tour
will commence.

Jill Duson has served on the city council since 2001, and did a one-year stint
as the ceremonial mayor three years later. She was briefly a candidate for
congress in 2008. Unlike Mavodones, she supported the elected mayor
proposal. Jill coyly announced her candidacy through a recent Facebook photo
of her registration papers.

With 33% of the city council running for mayor, will it affect the council’s
ability to get work done?  East End councilor Kevin Donoghue (who is not
running for mayor) is optimistic that it won’t.  
“My greatest hope,” he said, “is that the positive nature of ranked-choice
voting will have the campaign manifest more positively in our work. It may
promote purposeful action and shared success over grotesque grandstanding.
All of the incumbents benefit if we have a successful run as a City Council
leading up to the election in November.”

Forever Young
Many of the candidates are depending on young campaign managers to lead
them to the promised land.  Mike Brennan, Dave Marshall, and Jed Rathband
all have campaign managers who are 26 years old or younger. As you might
expect, all three of these young political strategerizers are idealists, working
for candidates who inspire them and who, they feel, will make Portland a
better, brighter community. What you might not expect is that these young-uns
got the jobs because of their deep campaign experience at both the local and
the national level.

Matt Winner (as a campaign manager, can you have a better last name?) is
Marshall’s field marshal.
“I'm proud to be working to elect Dave as the Mayor of Portland,” says
Winner, “because I think his vision for Portland of promoting sustainable
development, creative economy, and local businesses, is the right direction for
our city.” Matt met Dave when they both were canvassers for marriage
equality during the 2009 No on 1 campaign. A graduate of Democracy for
America's Dean Corps program, he worked on Ohio Congresswoman Mary Jo
Kilroy's campaign in Ohio last year. While the Republican tidal wave washed
out that campaign, Matt came back to Portland to apply some lessons learned
to the mayoral contest

Sam Lowry is Mike Brennan’s campaign manager. Sam is a product of the
Brennan campaign team, having volunteered heavily for Mike during the 2008
congressional primary.
“I have always been inspired by Mike's expertise on large issues, such as
education and health care,” says Lowry. “When it comes to addressing these
and other needs, he's been ahead of the curve.  He would bring the same
foresight to the mayor's office.  An unflappable quality of Mike's is that his
decisions are based on the past, present, and future.” Sam’s other campaign
experience includes a Minnesota initiative to reduce the impact of a highway

Simon Thompson is the manager of Rathband’s campaign.
“Although many of the candidates are thoroughly qualified to be mayor,”
Simon says, “Jed is the only pro-business candidate who stays true to his
progressive values. It doesn't matter if you're Republican, Independent or
Democrat- if you have a good idea, Jed wants to hear it. That is one of the
most important aspects I look for in a leader- a desire for an inclusive

Having just finished his freshman year at Harvard, Simon is the youngest of
these three young guns, yet may have the most campaign victories notched on
his belt. He managed city councilor Ed Suslovic’s campaign last year. He’s
also been a volunteer with the League of Young Voters.

“It's exciting that so many young people are being asked to run these
campaigns,” said Hilary Frenkel, State Co-Director of the League of Young
Voters. “It speaks to the important role young people have played in shaping
local Portland politics for several years now.”

Will Everitt is a political nerd and a long-time proponent of an elected mayor.
He is a former state director of the League of Young Voters. He lives at
Longfellow Square. Please send comments, complaints, and ideas to

May 16th, 2011
Brennan to Run for Mayor
Former State Senator Michael Brennan announced on May 16th that he is a
candidate for the election for Mayor of Portland that will be held in
November. He made the announcement at Ft. Allen Park on the Eastern Prom.

For the past 10 years, Brennan has worked as a Policy Associate at the Muskie
School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine. He has also worked
for Coastal Economic Development Corporation, the United Way of Greater
Portland, and as the executive director of the Cumberland County Affordable
Housing Venture. He has also been an adjunct faculty member at the
University of New England.

In addition to working at the Muskie School, Brennan served as a State
Senator in the Maine Legislature representing Portland, Falmouth and
Westbrook. He was first elected to the Senate in 2002 and was elected Senate
Majority Leader in 2004. Prior to being a State Senator, he was elected to the
House of Representatives for four terms between 1992 and 2000. While in the
Senate, he chaired the Health and Human Services Committee and the Joint
Select Committee on Health Care Reform. As a member of the House, he
chaired the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, and was a member of
the Business and Economic Development Committee. Brennan also ran for the
US Congress in 2008.

He has served as a Commissioner on the Portland Housing Authority, on the
Boards of Friends of Evergreen Cemetery, Casey Family Services and the
Southern Maine Economic Development Council. He is a native of Portland
who has lived in the city for the past 35 years with his wife, Joan Martay, and
his two sons, Travis and Ryan.

May 10, 2011
Mayor Watch 2011
Wanna Party?
As of May 6th there are nine official candidates in the mayoral race: Charles
Bragdon, Jed Rathband, Zouhair Bouzrara, Erick M. Bennett, David
Marshall, Christopher Vail, Jodie Lapchick, Steve Huston, and Peter Bryant.

Currently, there are three Democrats (Bryant, Lapchick, and Rathband) in the
race, one Republican (Bennett), one Green Independent (Marshall) and four
candidates who are not enrolled in any party (Bouzrara, Bragdon, Huston, and

Do these party affiliations mean anything?

The mayoral race, like all of our city and county races, is officially
nonpartisan. Strictly speaking, this means that when you go into the voting
booth and look at the ballot, you won’t find the words “Democrat,” “Green
Independent,” “Republican,” or “Independent” next to their names.

No matter what the ballots say, the mayor’s race is going to be de facto

The statewide Green Party has made the Portland’s mayor race a priority this
year, inviting Dave Marshall to speak at its annual convention earlier this

Not to be outdone, the Portland Democratic City Committee has made the
mayoral race a focus of its annual Truman Dinner (held on May 13th this
year). The city’s Democrats have stated that the funds raised at the dinner will
be used, in part, to distinguish their party’s aspirants “from other candidates
in [Portland’s] non-partisan election.”

Partisanship shouldn’t be the dirty word it’s become in some circles. Parties
have an important role to play in our community. They are one way people of
somewhat similar views about the role of government can share information
(and share gripe sessions). Yet another role they play is in turning out voters.

Independent candidates benefit from parties, too, as they stake out political
ground to the left, right, or middle of issues brought forward by party

But on another level, the partisanship might not mean much at all—locally, at
least. In 2009, Fernando Ferreira and Joseph Gyourko, two University of
Pennsylvania economists, analyzed 400 direct mayoral elections in cities across
America [Portland was not included in the study, because we haven’t directly
elected our mayor in 87 years!]. They found that, at the local level, when
looking at Democratic mayors and Republican mayors city-by-city, party labels
do not affect the size of government, the allocation of spending, or crime rates
of those cities. As they not-so- eloquently theorized, “There is a relatively high
degree of household homogeneity at the local level that appears to provide the
proper incentives for local politicians to be able to credibly commit to
moderation, and discourages strategic extremism.” In other words, by and
large, local politicians have views similar to the voters who put them in office,
no matter what party they belonged to.

Their study also found there was a “large political advantage to incumbency in
terms of the probability of winning the next election,” regardless of party

What’s this mean? It means that all of us as voters should get it right in
November, because whoever wins has a good chance of winning again four
years later.

The First Woman
When Jodie Lapchick entered the race, her press release announced proudly
that she was the “first woman” to declare. When asked if being a woman in
the race had any special significance, she replied, “While I think it might be
important to some particular voters, no, I don’t think it’s important. It does
give me an edge in that right now I’m more identifiable from the rest of the

Emerge Maine has a slightly different take on the importance of women
running for office. Emerge Maine is an organization based in Portland that
helps train Democratic women for public service, providing an intensive course
on how to run for office. “As a percentage, women are very far from parity
with men at all levels of government, from the local level to Congress,” said
Katie Mae Simpson, a Portlander and the organization’s Executive Director.

Lapchick isn’t an Emerge Maine graduate and isn’t being endorsed by the
organization, but Simpson offered that, “Diversity on the city council, in the
state house, in all elected bodies is critical. When there are more different
voices at the table, whether they’re women, people of color, or the
economically disadvantaged, better public policies are put forward.”

Ex-Marine Enters Race as the Non-Gung-Ho Candidate
Peter Bryant recently entered the mayoral race. A political newcomer, he’s a
former U.S. Marine and a recently retired merchant seaman.

Bryant is not about having a big vision for Portland; he’s running on a
minimalist campaign platform, focusing on fixing potholes, garnering visibility
for any local businesses that want it, and getting to the bottom of any questions
residents have about their city’s government.

“I’m telling people I’m the ‘one call does it all’ candidate. You want to open a
shop, I’ll walk you through City Hall to find the right person to talk to. Need a
pothole fixed? I’ll go down to City Services and make sure it’s on their radar,”
he explained. “I’ll be there for people. It’s not a big deal. I’m not going to
come off as a gung-ho Marine to City staff, I’m just want to get things done to
help people.”

Homeless Candidate?
Steve Huston recently registered as a mayoral candidate. The problem is, he
doesn’t seem to live where he registered.

His registration form didn’t list a telephone number or email address, so I did
what old-school journalists had to do back in the day, and went and knocked
on his door. A woman answered the door and informed me that Steve has not
lived there in a very long time. She was understandably distressed that someone
would register to run for mayor using her address.

I still haven’t found Huston to talk to first-hand, but asking around, I’ve
found that he’s been homeless for much of his life. At some point, he became
an advocate fighting poverty, and has even helped organize other homeless
people with Preble Street’s Homeless Voices for Justice.

Does his lack of a real address on his candidate registration form mean he’s
homeless once again?

First Ethics Charge Put to Bed but More Questions than Answers
As reported last week in the WEN, Candidate Charles Bragdon filed a
complaint with the Maine Ethics Commission against another mayoral
candidate, Erick Bennett. Bennett has been less than forthcoming when asked
about whether or not he’d been paid for the work he did (or did not do) on
Paul LePage’s gubernatorial campaign.

The Ethics Commission looked into the matter and found that an “Eric
Burnett” was paid $450 to manage LePage’s Facebook page. Upon the
Commission pointing this out to the LePage campaign, the governor’s staff
claimed that “Eric Burnett” is Erick Bennett and that the discrepancy is
because of typographical errors.

Bennett seems to have adopted LePage’s free-form attitude to filling out
paperwork, having to recently  file a new candidate registration form with the
City Clerk because he listed his name as “Erick M. Bennett I” rather than his
actual name, which doesn’t have the regal suffix. He still doesn’t seem to know
his own telephone number, though, listing it incorrectly once again on the new

While this ethics charge seems to have been put to bed, some voters have been
wondering about Erick Bennett’s past criminal charges. He was convicted of
assault in 2003. When the blog, contacted Bennett
about the charge he refused to answer any questions.

Will Everitt is a political nerd and a long-time proponent of an elected mayor.
He lives at Longfellow Square. He’s belonged to the Democratic Party and
then to Green Party and then the Democratic Party and then to the Green
Party. . . you can invite him to your party, or send comments, complaints, and
ideas to

Marshall Jumps into Mayor Race
City Councilor Dave Marshall has officially thrown his hat into the ring for
Elected Mayor of Portland.  He has registered with the City Clerk's office and
can begin fundraising for his campaign.
At a news conference in front of City Hall on Monday, March 28th, Marshall,
backed by about two dozen supporters, became the first current City Councilor
to announced his candidacy and outline his vision for Portland. Marshall
highlighted his accomplishments in his five years on the Council, including
work on the creative economy, the elected mayor issue, chairing the Skatepark
Committee, relocation of the West End Community Policing Cente rto the
Reiche Community Center, creating Green Building Codes for municipal
buildings among other initiatives.
Marshall had expressed interest in serving as Portland's mayor in the last two
elections held by his fellow councilors, who chose current Mayor Nick
Mavodones instead. Marshall owns a home on West Street in the West End,
and is the owner of Constellation Gallery on Congress Street. He finished his
news conference by weighing in on the labor mural controversy in Augusta. He
said that the mural should stay where it is, in the Labor Department offices in
Augusta. Marshall originally supported a plan to bring the mural to Portland's
City Hall.
Republican Erick Bennett also announced his candidacy on March 21st,
joining other announced candidates Zouhair Bouzrara, Charles Bragdon, Jed
Rathband and Christopher Vail. Nomination papers will be available on July
1st, requiring each candidate to collect 300 signatures by August 29th to
qualify for the election.

Mayor Watch 2011
Looking for L.O.V.E.?
As of April 9th there are six official candidates in the mayoral race: Charles
Bragdon, Jed Rathband, Zouhair Bouzrara, Erick M. Bennett I, David
Marshall, and Christopher Vail.

Who is Chris Vail? Have you heard of him? I couldn’t find anyone in my
circles who knew him. So I went down to City Hall and got a copy of his
candidate registration papers (cost: $1).

Turns out, Chris is one of Portland’s bravest. He’s been a Fire Fighter since

“I grew up on Peaks Island since I was four,” he said. “I lived here in the
1970s and '80s when Portland looked a lot different, was more working class.
Things have changed for the better, you could say, since then, but I want to be
sure we stay neighborhood- focused.”

Chris, an Independent, is new to electoral politics, and this is his first race. “I’
m working on my website and Facebook right now,” he said. As a current City
employee, he’ll have to give up his fire fighter job should he win. “That’s
going to be the tough part. I love my job.”

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places
Erick M. Bennett I (his candidate registration form regally proclaims himself
the first of the Erick M. Bennett line) might have a hard time finding love on
the campaign trail.

Bennett claims to have been a “New Media and Social Networking Strategist”
for Paul LePage.  He’s not listed in LeGov’s campaign expenditures report—
but Bennett has a lot of pictures of himself holding LePage signs on his
Facebook page. Facebook photos also reveal a passion for taking self-
portraits while shirtless. I asked Bennett for an interview and he suggested we
meet at the Dunkin Donuts on Congress Street.

He shared that the big issues his mayoral candidacy is focusing on right now
are charging property owners for graffiti removal, and having tougher
disorderly conduct laws. When I asked questions that were off-script, he took a
page from LePage and refused to answer.

Me: So why are you running for mayor?
Bennett the First: Thousands of people told me to.
Me: So you worked for Paul LePage?
Bennett: I did everything I could to get him elected.
Me: You said you were a new media consultant.
Bennett: Yes.
Me: Were you paid by the campaign?
Bennett: I’m only answering questions that are about my campaign.
Me: So you weren’t paid?
Bennett: I’m not answering that question, I’m only here to talk about my
Me: Are you for marriage equality?
Bennett: If people want to know that, they can call me up and I’ll talk with
them personally.
Me: Won’t it be rough running as a LePage supporter in a city like Portland?
Bennett: I have 1,807 supporters right now [on a private email list], including
business owners, Democrats, Republicans, and Greens.
Me: Who are some of your supporters in the business community?
Bennett: That’s confidential.

He added at one point that his campaign was going to be about listening to
Portlanders, not about listening to campaign consultants. As a Portlander, I’ll
offer Erick some free advice and recommend that he Google “Republican
Representative Chris Lee, NY” and, perhaps, take down the shirtless pics.

L.O.V.E. isn’t a Four Letter Word
City Councilor David Marshall is all about the L.O.V.E. He is running on a
platform of Loyalty, Optimism, Vision, and Experience. But will he find love
from the voters?

November is a long way off. More candidates will announce soon, no doubt.
One could argue, though, that with only a field of dark horses around him,
Dave is the first viable candidate to get in the race. West Enders might
remember his initial run for office in 2006, when he defeated a more well-
known and deep-pocketed candidate (Cyrus Hagge). He was unopposed when
he ran for re-election in 2009. He has political campaign experience, has
notched his fair share of policy achievements, and knows the ins and outs of
City Hall. Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
recently gave an award to one of Dave’s signature policy achievements, the
Creative Economy Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, which sets aside tax
money from the downtown arts district to be dedicated to arts and culture in
the city.

“I got the Creative Economy TIF idea when I first ran in 2006,” said
Marshall. “I worked to get the legislature to change the law so we could do
that. Our creative economy is a job builder. Statewide, these jobs are growing
by 25% a year and in Portland this is a good place to jumpstart our economy.”

But it ain’t easy being Green. While the mayor’s race is officially non-
partisan, party politics can find its way into local contests (anyone remember
the “Greens Cause Chaos” signs a few years back?). Greens have had a rough
go in garnering votes off-peninsula. And that’s what Dave will need to do in
order to move from the district council seat he enjoys now to the mayor’s chair
at the head of the dais. It remains to be seen if Greens like Dave can raise
enough funds to run a competitive city-wide race: the party’s gubernatorial
candidate last year only raised $14,000 statewide.

Perhaps a bigger problem Dave might face is that he is already sitting on the
city council. Many voters felt like a change was needed at City Hall, and the
elected mayor proposal provided a way to voice that change.

“No one can ever say I’m the status quo candidate,” retorts Marshall. “That’s
why I worked to support a Charter Commission and worked to get an elected

Will Everitt is a political nerd and a long-time proponent of an elected
mayor. He lives at Longfellow Square. In the interest of full
disclosure, he owns a Dave Marshall painting. You can send
comments, complaints, and ideas to

April 1, 2011
Political Collateral Damage or
Mayoral Candidate?
-City Councilor Dory Waxman will lose her seat on the
Council to the Elected Mayor
If only there was a feminine version of the word “avuncular.”  That’s what I
was thinking as my two-year old daughter and I sat down over a cup of coffee
with At-Large City Councilor Dory Waxman.  Dory is like that passionate great
aunt every family seems to have: the one who’s energetic, artistic, and
passionately political.  She doted over my daughter, reminisced about raising
her own kids, and talked about her new apron-making business.

We met up at my suggestion because her story is one that hasn’t gotten much
attention. “People don’t really know or understand that I won’t be on the
council,” she said when we sat down.  Waxman is the elected mayor martyr—
except martyr isn’t quite the right word.  Is there a word for someone who
makes an unwilling sacrifice?  I would use the word “victim,” except that
definitely doesn’t describe Dory.  The Pentagon would probably just label her
as political collateral damage.

That’s because Waxman’s city council seat is being eliminated to make room
for our new elected mayor.  There is a certain degree of irony to this political
story.  Three years ago, Waxman faced off against Ed Suslovic for the at-large
council seat. The race was hard fought. With the debate regarding the Maine
State Pier fresh in voters’ minds, passions ran hot. Ultimately, Waxman
defeated Suslovic, the then-sitting un-elected mayor.  Now she is being
defeated by the new elected mayor—whoever that may be.

“It’s disappointing,” Waxman said.  “There’s so much work to be done.  I’m
just disappointed that I won’t be able to finish what I started.”    As last year’s
Charter Commission debated the powers and role of the elected mayor, they
also had to decide on when Portlanders would actually cast their ballots for
the position. Some argued that the election should be in a presidential or
gubernatorial election year since more people vote in those races. After a
vigorous debate and public input, the Commission voted 7 to 2 that the
election should be held in an off-year so voters could focus on city issues
without being distracted by the larger “up ballot” races.   

The first year available for the mayoral election coincided with what would
have been Waxman’s re-election campaign.  While she is frustrated that her
seat is being eliminated, she understands that the Charter Commission was just
doing what it was elected to do.  “I think they did the best they could do in
their situation,” she said philosophically.    

The irony runs deeper.  Twenty years ago, Waxman and a number of other
Portland activists had pushed for a popularly-elected mayor but were defeated
by advocates of the status quo, led by City Councilor Cheryl Leeman.  Yet, last
year Waxman joined Leeman, who reprised her role as the demonizer of a
popularly-elected mayor, and voted against the Charter Commission’s

“I think we should have a strong mayor and get rid of our city manager style
of government all together,” she explained.  The elimination of her seat also
played into her opposition.  Of course, Waxman could stay on the Council if
she were to run for mayor—and win.    “I haven’t ruled out running for
mayor,” she said with a smile.  “I love serving on the council. At first I
thought that I could run for the at-large seat that Nick [Mavodones] or Jill
[Duson] has,” she said, “provided they ran for mayor, but then I found out
that sitting councilors don’t have to give up their seats to run for mayor.”  

There are a lot of variables in play.  If another sitting at-large councilor [for
example, Mavodones or Dusonl] runs for mayor and wins, there will be a
special election to fill their regular seat, opening up a chance for Waxman to
return to the job she loves.    Another variable is her personal life.  She’s
launching a new business venture:  Maine Apron Company.  Her first two
clients are Rosemont Bakery, and the church-turned-upscale-restaurant, Grace.

“I’m not sure if I will have the time to commit to running,” she said.    
“Whoever ends up being mayor,” she said, “will have to pull together
residents to create a vision for the city.  We have to go straight out to the
neighborhoods to hear peoples’ dreams for what they want and how they want
to see Portland moving forward.”

When pressed about what issues she sees as the most important ones for a city
about to pick a new city manager and elect its first mayor in 88 years, she has
a quick answer.  “Education is the most important issue.  Then economic
development and housing,” she says. Waxman is proud of her work on the
Council.  She gets excited when describing the task force she’s putting together
that will craft a 10-year plan to help solve Portland’s homelessness problem.  
She also speaks enthusiastically about working closely with Councilor Dave
Marshall on energy and sustainability efforts.  She’s even enjoyed
collaborating with her one-time foe, Ed Suslovic, who returned to the City
Council last year.

“The council really works collaboratively and I love that,” she said.  
“Everyone brings a different strength to the council.”  Our conversation came
to an end.  Dory had to run off to pick up supplies for her apron business.  But
not before giving a warm good bye to my daughter.

Mayor Watch 2011 is a bi-weekly non-partisan column dedicated to following
Portland’s first mayoral election since 1923. Will lives at Longfellow Square
and is NOT running for mayor but is in a 12-step program for political
junkies.  The former State Director of the League of Young Voters, he has been
a long-time advocate for a popularly elected mayor. Complaints, comments, or
suggestions?  Email Will:

Correction:  Rosa Scarcelli contributed $497,745 not $1 million. Former
Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Rosa Scarcelli contacted Will Everitt to
correct the campaign contribution total in his column two weeks ago.  Scarcelli
made 12 loans to her campaign totaling $503,800.  All but $6,054.14 of these
loans were "forgiven" by the candidate, making her contribution to the
campaign $497,745, not $1 million as reported.  The error is due to the fact
that the Ethics Commission double-listed her donations as both contributions
and as loans to herself.

March 12, 2011
No New Candidates in the Race, So Let’
s Talk About Money
Charles Carpenter is an interesting guy. His company, Historic Map Works, is
kind of the historic Google Earth. He started a foundation that builds
playgrounds for kids in Afghanistan, Haiti, and Somalia. He lives in a
spacious loft whose finer amenities include views of Casco Bay, a tubular
elevator to a music room, rare 15th century copies of Aristotle, and a nearly
two-story pulpit from a gothic church.

But I didn’t show up at his loft because I was writing for Maine Boats, Homes,
and Harbors—I met him because I heard he was running for mayor.  It turns
out that he’s not an official candidate yet.

“I’m still thinking about it,” Carpenter said. “I’m opinionated. If I ran, I
recognize I couldn’t win because I’m not politically correct.”  What do you
mean? What’s politically incorrect about you?

“Portland can have more economic growth if it’s a desirable place for more
middle class people to live an work,” he said. “That’s difficult because of the
congregation of social services right in our downtown. Much of Congress
Street is slated as non-market rate housing. We
can’t have an economically viable city if the buildings are non-market rate.”

He went on to express frustration at seeing so many people being let out on to
the streets by social service agencies downtown. “It doesn’t work to take
hundreds of dysfunctional people and turn them out on the streets every day.”  

To be honest, my first thought about Mr. Carpenter was that he’s right, he
probably couldn’t win an election in Portland rallying people against our
downtown social service agencies.  Then again, looking at the luxurious
surroundings of his loft, and having heard about the people he got to invest in
his tech-savvy map company, I thought that if he could have a big impact on
the race if he threw money into it.

“I’ll only run if I find enough endorsed support,” Carpenter said. He assured
me that if he ran, he would finance the race through people he inspired to
donate to his campaign.  For now, Carpenter is just one of the many
“possible” candidates out there. But meeting him made me wonder how
campaign finance rules applied to our city races.  After all, money is a
necessary evil in campaigns. Candidates have to pay for mailings, websites,
fact sheets, pizza for their volunteers, and those annoying commercials.  Is it
possible for wealthy donors “buy” a candidate? Can a candidate “buy” the
mayoral race? How will money spent on the mayor’s race be tracked? Will the
money spent on the race become a political issue?  

The rules of the game are a combination of local, state, and federal laws. The
state limits individual campaign contributions to municipal candidates to
$350: that is the maximum someone running can accept from one person over
the course of the campaign. This amount is lower than most states, and limits
the degree to which a candidate can be “beholden” to a donor. To look at it
another way, if it takes $25,000 to truly run a citywide race, a candidate will
need at least 72 people to donate to his/her campaign.  Unless, of course, the
candidate is independently wealthy.  If that’s the case, s/he could “donate” an
unlimited amount to his/herself.

For example, in the Governor’s race, Eliot Cutler gave himself 297 donations
totaling $597,360 and Rosa Scarcelli gave herself 24 donations totaling just
over $1 million.(Correction:  Rosa Scarcelli contributed $497,745 not $1
million. Former Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Rosa Scarcelli contacted
Will Everitt to correct the campaign contribution total in this column.  
Scarcelli made 12 loans to her campaign totaling $503,800.  All but $6,054.14
of these loans were "forgiven" by the candidate, making her contribution to
the campaign $497,745, not $1 million as reported.  The error is due to the
fact that the Ethics Commission double-listed her donations as both
contributions and as loans to herself.)  We can thank a federal Supreme Court
decisions that equate spending money with free speech for this campaign
contribution loophole: the more money you have, the more free speech you can

Campaign loopholes exist, too, around Political Action Committees (PACs).
PACs are committees formed by interest groups to raise money for their
favorite political candidates. There is no limit to the amount an individual may
donate to a PAC.  Fortunately, Maine has some of the best laws allowing
everyday citizens to track where political donations come from and how that
money is spent. It took me a grand total of three minutes to look up the
donations I mentioned above regarding Cutler and Scarcelli by going to www.

Maine’s tracking system is such an efficient model that two years ago Senator
Justin Alfond worked to pass a bill that marries municipal campaign reporting
to the state Ethics Commission’s database. The goal was that citizens would be
able to shine a light on who was giving what to whom in local races. We would
be able to easily search donations in the state system.  At least, that was the

Unfortunately, the Ethics Commission hasn’t gotten around to expanding the
system to apply to city races like Portland’s yet.

“It’s disappointing,” said Senator Alfond. “With the mayor’s race, this year
would have been the perfect year to have the transparency this system would
provide.”  Instead, the Ethics Commission will simply be posting PDFs of
mayoral candidates’ fundraising and spending reports. While this is better than
the current municipal system, it doesn’t easily allow the everyday Mainer to be
an investigative journalist.

“It’s too bad that we’re still using 20th century technology during a 21st
century campaign,” said Alfond, who is planning to see how we can speed the
process up.  While the Ethics Commission struggles with technology, tech-savvy
locals may find a solution in the short-term.

“A few enterprising volunteers could take the PDFs, extract the information,
and provide a public, searchable database as a service to the public,” says
Jack Woods, a Portland activist and supporter of Alfond’s bill. “We deserve to
know where our next mayor's money is coming from, and a simple workaround
like this could serve as a stop-gap until the state fully implements the intention
of the law.”  No matter how much money is spent on the mayor’s race,
ultimately it will be decided by the voters not by a checkbook. Just ask Eliot
Cutler and Rosa Scarcelli.  

Will Everitt is the former State Director of the League of Young Voters and is
a long-time proponent of an elected mayor.  He lives at the corner of West End
and Parkside.  He’s not accepting any political donations, but you can send
comments, complaints, and ideas to

Rathband: City Rushing Hiring of
New City Manager  
East Bayside mayoral candidate Jed Rathband is calling on the City to halt its
search for a new City Manager until after Portland elects its new mayor in
November. In an op-ed piece in the Portland Press Herald on February 17th,
Rathband said that the Portland City Council is rushing to fill the soon-to-be-
vacant city manager's position before the clock runs out on the old system,
instead of waiting to let the new mayor direct the search.

Rathband said that hiring a manager before hiring the chief executive will
sandbag the new mayor's efforts to move the city forward, and limit Portland's
ability to attract top-tier candidates for the manager's position. Instead, said
Rathband, the new mayor should lead a comprehensive, nationwide search to
attract the best and the brightest candidates in the field to help implement the
mayor's vision and run the day-to-day operations of the City.   City Manager
Joe Gray retired from his post in early February, after ten years in the
position, and more than forty years at City Hall, Rathband said that past
efforts to fill the post have been hampered by a lack of time available on the
City Council, often leading to hiring from within for the sake of expediency.  

February 24, 2011
Strange Bedfellows
[Or how I slept with the Chamber and still loved politics in
the morning.]
Politics, as the saying goes, makes for strange bedfellows. In Portland, none
have been stranger than the connection between the League of Young Voters
and the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce. These organizations are
among the most politically active groups in the city. What they decide to do—
and not to do—will likely have a big impact on the mayor’s race.  (Disclosure
#1 of 3: I worked with the League of Young Voters as its State Director  
through the election season last year. So, neighbors, you can take this week’s
column as an insider’s view of this strange bedfellow relationship. . .or take it
with a grain of salt.)  

The League of Young Voters works to inspire 18 to 35 year-olds to get
involved in the political process. Having fought for marriage equality and for
re-establishing voting rights for immigrants, the League could be described as
one of the most progressive organizations in the state. During any given
election season, they can marshal several scores of volunteers to hit the streets
and talk to voters.  

The Chamber represents business interests. The Portland Chamber could be
described as one of the more conservative groups in the state, as it endorsed
the so-called Tax Payer’s Bill of Rights while the statewide Chamber did not.  
If Chamber members were inspired to, they could invest a lot of money into a
campaign.  On the face of it, it would seem like the League and the Chamber
would have little in common, politically speaking.  I called Chris O’Neil, City
Hall Liaison for the Portland Community Chamber, to talk about the mayor’s
race. (Disclosure #2 of 3: Chris and I worked together on the elected mayor

“You don’t find your traditional political lines in Portland,” said O’Neil,
when asked about the Chamber working in coalition with the League over the
years. “I like to say that because of Portland’s quality of place and the
creative economy here, the Chamber here is not a bunch of cigar-smoking
businessmen in dark suits.”  It is precisely because these two organizations
represent such a large political gap that, when they decide to stake out
common ground together, the earth moves. For example, the two groups
worked together to support Olympia’s bid to develop the Maine State Pier.
While the Great Recession ultimately de-railed the project, working together,
they convinced a majority of the City Council to vote their way, defeating a
billion-dollar company connected to Governor Baldacci. And, of course, the
Chamber and the League worked together to make an elected mayor a reality.

So how will these two groups approach the mayor’s race?  For the Chamber,
all cards are on the table. “We have yet to decide how we’re going to be
involved in the race,” said O’Neil. “Obviously, we want a mayor that
understands business issues. Whether we will recruit a candidate or not, work
on issue education with all candidates, or be involved in the race in a more
political way - that remains to be seen.”  

But the Chamber was so involved in the elected mayor campaign—it must have
had someone in mind for the job.
“The news flash is there’s no Chamber candidate. We really only thought as
far as winning the elected mayor,” said O’Neil. “We accomplished that goal
and are just beginning to process what’s next. Who will be mayor is important—
and just as important, who will be city manager.”

“No Chamber Candidate” doesn’t exactly make for a juicy headline. So I
called Hilary Frenkel, interim co-Director of the League. (Disclosure #3 of 3:
Hilary and I worked together when I was at the League.)
“We’ve been out talking to young people all over Portland. Jobs and the
economy are on people’s minds,” says Frenkel.  While economists may be
saying that the Great Recession is over, it turns out that the same economic
conditions that derailed the Maine State Pier project three years ago are still
wreaking havoc on the everyday lives of young people.

“A lot of young people are worried about how they’re going to pay the rent
next month,” said Frenkel. “They care a lot about Maine and love living here
in Portland, so for us the big issue is how can we create good jobs that will
keep them here.”  Leaguers plan to talk to all candidates about this issue and
will, as they have in the past, put out a voter’s guide that endorses the
candidates that most closely align with their volunteers’ political perspectives.  
“It’s not just jobs, but the economic reality young people have to deal with.

Consider transportation costs,” she continued. “It costs about $8,000 a year to
own a car when you throw in insurance, gas, and taxes. A lot of young people
can’t afford that. At the same time, some are afraid to ride their bikes because
if they take a spill, they don’t have health insurance to cover the costs. Jobs,
healthcare, transportation—to the League, these are all social justice issues.”

Wait a second: the Chamber is talking about Portland’s creative economy and
our quality of place while the League is talking about jobs and the economy?  
Will the Chamber ultimately endorse a creative economy guru? Will the League
form a “The Rent is Too Damn High” Party? Or will the two groups shack up
together behind one candidate?  Stay tuned.

Mayor Watch 2011 is a bi-weekly non-partisan column dedicated to following
Portland’s first mayoral election since 1923. Will Everitt is a politically junkie
and was a long-time advocate for a popularly elected mayor.  He tries to fully
disclose his political connections when they pop up in a column.  You can
disclose your complaints by emailing him:

February 18, 2011
Bragdon Rebuts Everitt's Mayor
By Charles Bragdon  
Unlike Will Everitt, I am not a big fan of rumors, as I think they are lacking
more in truth and facts than they are speculation and innuendo.

In this recent article published in The West End News, Will Everitt claims to be
writing from a non-partisan perspective while his bias is clearly evident. He
starts off by telling us how his fellow columnist Jed Rathband is running and
has a better chance than the rest because he can hold to a deadline. He states
that Jed is clearly running ahead of the pack, as he has run other campaigns,
so this makes him more qualified than the rest.

I don't think running a campaign company makes one more qualified to win
than anyone else. I don't recall seeing Jed Rathband at any City Council
meetings lately. For that matter, I don't recall seeing him at any City meetings
lately, and I would know, as I attend most of them. If he is such a campaign
expert, wouldn't he know that if the people are going to elect him to represent
them, maybe, just maybe, they would like to see him stand up for them once in

He points out himself that this side of politics is all new to him, and he agrees
with me on at least one point. Portland is indeed a rising star as far as cities
go, and that is why we need someone who can truly lead us into that future.  

Will points out that I have lost three bids for office in the last two years. He is
right on all three, but he left out that I was a political newcomer myself when I
ran against Kevin Donoghue for District 1. He also failed to mention that in
my last race for City Council At-Large, I garnered 9,445 votes in a three-way
race against two popular incumbents. I didn't truly expect to win any of these
races, especially the run for the State House primary, as the Green Party
railroaded me into a primary they claimed they had no candidate for, and then
decided to run Anna Trevorrow, the State Chair of the Green Party, against
me. This is what prompted me to step away from all political parties, as I saw
the Green Party to be no different than their respective counterparts when it
came to dirty politics.

I thank Will Everitt for pointing out all the run-ins with the law that Zouhair
Bouzrara has had, as this brings out early something that people would
certainly have wanted to know about a candidate for an office of such
significance. I also want to thank him for pointing out that John Eder is going
to run to build up the Green Party. I can now honestly state that I am the only
true independent running who will have no party affiliations or ties to any
special interest groups. John Eder and David Marshall (if he chooses to run)
will both be pushing the Green platform.

I should also point out something that Will forgot to mention about John Eder.
When John Eder served as a State House Representative for the West End, he
didn't bring his own agenda to the table. He actually submitted bills to the
House that came straight from the National Green Party. Ralph Nader himself
called to congratulate him and then sent him the model legislation he
submitted. A quick search in Wikipedia will reveal this truth.

Regardless of who decides to run for Mayor this year, the one thing you can
count on is that I will still be true to my integrity and principles, and I will
continue to fight for a stronger, more localised sustainable economy, homeless
employment, truly affordable housing, a more walkable city, greener city
buildings, tenant rights, a working waterfront - and continue to be a true
independent voice of the people in City Hall.

February 15, 2011
Rumors and Other Truths   
“I love rumors! Facts can be so misleading, where rumors, true or false, are
often revealing.” –Colonel Hans Landa, in the opening scene of the film
“Inglourious Basterds"  

Who’s running for mayor?  Who’s not?  As rumors swirl around Portland like
snow storms, there are still only three candidates running for mayor—at least
according to the Acting City Clerk:  Jed Rathband, Charles Bragdon, and
Zouhair Bouzrara.  Having registered with the City, they can legally raise
money for their campaigns.  

All three are dark horse candidates.  Rathband, an occasional columnist for
the West End News, and known in these parts as “Deadline Jed,” has the best
chances of these first-registrants.  He runs Stone’s Throw Consulting, a public
relations and campaign management firm located here in Portland.   

“While this side of the political divide is new for me,” says Rathband, a first-
time candidate for elected office, “the arena itself is something I'm well -
acquainted with. Portland is a rising star among elite small cities in America,
and voters want a leader who can harness that momentum and use it to
implement a vision that will stimulate further progress.”  

Jed may have more time on his hands to work on his campaign as the Maine
Green Energy Alliance, the nonprofit he has been working for since November,
is going belly-up.  Charles Bragdon has the distinction of losing three
campaigns for office in two years.  He put up an unsuccessful bid for the East
End City Council seat in 2009, lost a primary for State Rep in the spring of
2010, and rounded out the year with a loss in a three-way sprint for  two At-
Large seats on the City Council in the fall of 2010.  He was registered as a
Democrat, a Green, and an Independent in those races, respectively.  

Bragdon claims these losses were all part of the grander plan to run for mayor.
“I’ve built some name recognition and gained some really strong supporters
through those races,” he insists.  
We can surmise that Bouzrara won’t be the law and order candidate.  A quick
google reveals that he has had as many run-ins with Portland’s men in blue as
Bragdon has had electoral losses in the past few years.  He’s been arrested for
allegedly obstructing a public way and for allegedly refusing to submit to
arrest, and theft.  You’ll probably want to avoid his political phone-calls as he
has been charged and fined for telephone harassment.  

While these three candidates provide more local color than a box of crayons,
other contenders are sure to make official announcements soon.  Rumors that
Ethan Strimling, the Executive Director of Learning Works, will run, seem to
be false:

“At this point,” he says, “I don't have any plans to enter the race. But I would
like to see Portland elect a mayor who has strong leadership skills; someone
who can articulate a viable and hopeful vision for Portland and then hold the
City accountable to that vision.”  

Three years ago, Strimling came in fourth for in the Democratic Primary for
Congress. In Portland, Mike Brennan edged him by 100 votes for second place
in the City, while Chellie Pingree took the gold.  Not surprisingly, Brennan,
who has strong social-service credentials, has been mentioned as a possible
candidate, too, but has yet to officially announce.  

What about Rosa Scarcelli, the former Democratic gubernatorial
“I haven’t considered a run for mayor,” she says, “but am very interested in
who is running. . .I believe we need a mayor who has vision, passion, and the
ability to rally Portland.” Perhaps she will wait for the furor over her husband’
s involvement with “The Cutler Files” to die down before she considers
running for public office again.

The Greens may have at least two aspirants:  City Councilor Dave Marshall
and former West End State Rep John Eder. Officially, Marshall is still mulling
over whether or not to throw his hat into the ring.

“I’m thinking about it,” he said.  “Running for mayor is a huge commitment
and has a lot of responsibilities.  I want to be certain I can be up to  the effort,
and certain about what is best for the City.”  He sees the top issues the new
mayor faces as being jobs and protecting our environment and quality of life.  

John Eder has not registered as a candidate yet, but does plan to run in order
to build the Green Party.

“I’m proud to be a founder of Portland’s green movement,” he said.  “I am
running for Mayor on a green platform, at the intersection of imagination and
common sense. The local level is the front line for innovation. We can no
longer depend on the federal or state government. The cavalry is not coming
and honestly, I find that thought exhilarating.”  
Stay tuned.  More snow, rumors, and announcements are in the forecast.

Mayor Watch 2011 is a bi-weekly non-partisan column dedicated to
following Portland’s first mayoral election since 1923. Will Everitt
lives at Longfellow Square. The former State Director of the League
of Young Voters, he has been a long-time advocate for a popularly
elected mayor. In the interest of full disclosure, he’s friends with some
of the people mentioned in this column—so if you have any
complaints, comments, or rumors, email Will: wm.a.everitt@gmail.

February 1, 2011
Friends Let Friends Run for
I’ve got a problem.    
Already, two close friends and four other acquaintances of mine have told me
that they’re thinking of running for mayor of Portland. None of these people
have run for City office before. While these folks are passionate (and
compassionate) people, to be honest, most of them probably don’t have the
qualifications to be dogcatcher, much less mayor.  One of the acquaintances
that approached me is a carpetbagger from York County, planning to move to
the “big city” to run.  Obviously, my problems is, I’m friends with too many
people who aspire to be politicians.    But maybe you have this problem, too.
In a small city like Portland, with only one or two degrees of separation, it’s
highly likely that you, too, know someone who’s planning on running for
mayor.     Why are people crawling out of the woodwork to run for mayor
when these same people wouldn’t even consider running for a “regular” city
council seat?  Part of the answer is that being a city councilor is a thankless
job.  City Councilors voluntarily spend 20 to 40 hours a week in seemingly
endless meetings and responding to constituents’ concerns.  In return for a
small stipend, and healthcare if they need it, they act as our community
punching bags.  They’re blamed for everything from the number of potholes on
any given street to how crappy the new blue city trash bags are. But ultimately,
no matter how often you might disagree with them, those nine people are doing
the rest of us a huge favor by serving on the council.  That’s why so few
people run for city council.  The last time West End City Councilor Dave
Marshall ran for office, he ran unopposed.  Cheryl Leeman has run unopposed
several times over her 27-year career on the council.    On the other hand, the
new city charter was designed to inspire people to run for mayor.  A $66,000
salary, healthcare, a well-appointed office, veto-power over the budget, and
the chance to be our first elected mayor since your great grandmother earned
the right to vote—all this was meant to rouse the best and brightest among us
to throw their hats into the ring.  It’s possible that we’ll see 10 to 20 people on
the ballot for mayor.  Yikes, you may say, the more people who run, the more
likely that we’re going to elect someone on the dumb and dumber side of the
spectrum rather than the best and brightest side.  After all, at this time last
year, no fewer than 24 people were in the governor’s race.  In the end, a
teabagging, potty-mouthed, fringe candidate won that race with 39% of the
vote.  What if that happens here?  In the governor’s race, and, indeed, in every
elected office in the state - save for Portland’s mayor - the system is based on
plurality, where it isn’t the majority that rules, it’s the one with the most votes.  
Under plurality, if enough people run, you can win even if six out of every ten
people voted against you.  Under plurality, the more people who run, the more
likely we are to elect a fringe candidate.  Ah, lucky for us, Portland’s Charter
Commissioners designed a system that helps weed the garden.    Our mayor will
be elected via instant runoff voting.  In this system, we will rank our
preferences just as we rank flavors at an ice cream stand: I prefer Candidate
Chocolate, but if I can’t have her, I prefer Candidate Vanilla, and if I can’t
have him, then I’ll settle for Candidate Strawberry.  In an instant runoff
voting election, a flavor—er…—candidate wins only if the majority of voters
feel as if s/he is worthy of the job.  Fringe candidates will be eliminated, as
they will receive too few votes to make it to the runoff counts.  So when your
friend or neighbor comes over and says, “Hey, I’m thinking about running for
mayor,” simply say 'good for you', even if they don’t have the credentials to be
dog-catcher.  Heck, even if your friend is a potty-mouthed fringe candidate, in
the mayor’s race, it will be the more, the merrier.  
Mayor Watch 2011 is a bi-weekly non-partisan column dedicated to following
Portland’s first mayoral election since 1923. Will Everitt lives at Longfellow
Square and is NOT running for mayor but is in a 12-step program for political
junkies.  The former State Director of the League of Young Voters, he has been
a long-time advocate for a popularly elected mayor. Complaints, comments, or
suggestions?  Email Will:

January 15, 2011
The Race is On
The ethics commission complaints have been filed. There’s even a Wikipedia
page [see: Portland, Maine Mayoral Election, 2011] to make it official:  this
year marks the first year since 1923 that Portland will have a popularly-
elected mayor.  The race is on.  This is the “Hot Stove League” part of the
campaign.   Pundits are wondering who’s going to throw their hat into the
ring.  Would-be candidates are already pulling together exploratory committees
around their kitchen tables. Current city councilors are admitting to local
reporters that they are thinking about running [Hi, Jill and Nick!]. Chances
are, you have a friend or neighbor who has said they’re mulling over a run at
the job.  Except for a few dozen potential candidates, most of us aren’t
thinking about the mayor’s race yet.  Most of us don’t turn on our political
antennae until after Labor Day.  But sure as the Patriots out of the playoffs,
the mayor’s race has begun.  Before friends and other strangers invite you to a
house party to meet “Candidate X,” now is the time to think about what issues
are important to you, and what you’re looking for in a candidate.    Flush with
new powers and a full-time salary, the mayor will be showing up for work in
City Hall just like the City’s other employees.  What kind of mayor do you
want returning your phone calls and emails?  What should his or her priories
be?  All the candidates will pay at least lip service the predictable trinity of
taxes, jobs, and education.  While those issues may be the “big three,” voters
will be looking for more than just platitudes.  They will be looking for
candidates to articulate a real vision for the city.    This is something that
Christina Feller, President of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization, has
thought a lot about lately.  “My central question to candidates,” said Feller,
speaking for herself and not the Neighborhood Organization, “is ‘How do you
interpret the 2010 census data, and turn that analysis into a persuasive
argument to Augusta and Washington in support of Portland?’”  Feller points
out that, demographically, Portland is incredibly different today than it was
just five years ago.  One out of three students in our school system is a child of
immigrants.  In another five years it’s projected that as many as half of our
students will be from immigrant families.  Many immigrant families are buying
their own homes here, running local businesses, and taking part in the local
economy.  For Caitlin Gilmet, a West Ender who runs Picara Creative, her
own consulting business, an issue that will make or break her vote will be
candidates’ visions of the creative economy.  “I want to know what their
vision for Artside [the Arts District] is,” says Gilmet.    She has a good point.  
Our creative economy is what makes Portland so distinctive. Fifteen minutes
down the turnpike, there’s a little city that, from the outside, looks much like
ours.  It has quaint brick buildings right on the water like we have. Plus the
rent is cheaper.  But Biddeford hasn’t (yet) attracted the artists, musicians,
cultural nonprofits, and the young workforce that Portland can boast. It’s easy
to forget that artists and musicians are, in essence, small-business people, and
are critical to our local economy.  Will the new mayor cast a vision for the city
recognizes what Portland is becoming, or will he or she view the city from a
lens of how it used to be?  Will the new mayor understand that helping business
means supporting our creative economy? Will his or her vision build on what’s
made us a different—and more vibrant—community than other cities in
Maine?  Will we have a mayor who looks forward?  Or looks backward?  Or
something in between?  Only time (and a marathon campaign season) will tell.  
What kind of mayor are you looking for?  This year, you get to decide.  
Mayor Watch 2011 is a bi-weekly non-partisan column dedicated to following
Portland’s first mayoral election since 1923. Will Everitt is a political junkie
and lives at Longfellow Square.  The former State Director of the League of
Young Voters, he has been a long-time advocate for a popularly elected
mayor.  Complaints, comments, or suggestions?
 Email Will: wm.a.
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