Portland's mayoral election is being handled by ranked-choice voting. Both the election and the new position are experiments in real time. It is profoundly unclear who might win the election, and equally uncertain how the winner will work with the existing city manager and council. With that in mind, we at the Portland Phoenix thought we could best serve readers by endorsing candidates by issue. You determine how important each of these issues is to you; with the help of our endorsements, rank your candidates accordingly. If your issue is . . .
Education: Michael Brennan
When Michael Brennan served in the state legislature, he chaired the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee and advocated for early childhood education, technology in Maine classrooms, and other pro-kid priorities. At the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service, where he currently serves as a policy associate, he specializes in education and health. And his mayoral campaign highlights Portland's wealth of higher-education opportunities — and calls for increased collaboration between those institutions and local businesses.
Economic development: Ethan Strimling
While some might be put off by Ethan Strimling's vow to run the city like a business — to turn our unemployment rate around with "performance metrics" and CEO skills — we're impressed by his commitment to streamlining the permitting and planning processes and reducing economic burdens on businesses (while also limiting tax-increment financing that lacks demonstrable job creation). If nothing else, Strimling is a good salesman, and that talent can be put to good use in Portland.
Environment : Dave Marshall
As chairman of the city's Energy and Environmental Sustainability committee, Dave Marshall helped usher in an agreement between the city and a Massachusetts-based firm to take close to $10 million in energy-conservation measures in municipal buildings and schools. This project will save the city about $17 million and significantly reduce our carbon footprint. Now, Marshall wants to do the same thing in Portland homes and businesses, converting heat sources from oil to cleaner fuel. Marshall, often spotted on his bike or on foot, is also an avid supporter of alt-transit.
Immigrant services and relations: Jed Rathband
It's not just that Jed Rathband owns a home in East Bayside, the most diverse area of the city. It's not just his kinda-silly, kinda-cool idea to re-name (or co-name) inner Washington Avenue "International Boulevard." It's that Rathband is a big supporter of small, entrepreneurial businesses — including immigrant start-ups. In our first interview, Rathband stressed that Portland's immigrant community is a crucial component to any economic development plan. He has also campaigned to repeal the law that ends same-day voter registration, an issue that overwhelmingly affects non-native Portlanders.
Creative economy + arts + culture: Dave Marshall
His idea to create a "creative economy TIF" — to dedicate a portion of property tax revenues in the Arts District to boosting the city's arts culture — won city councilor Dave Marshall accolades from Harvard University. In addition, the fine artist who founded and owns the Constellation Gallery artist collective on Congress Street claims that "art is what brought [him] into politics," and that "community renewal" can be achieved through art. He's a supporter of the Buy Local cause and of Portland street-art vendors, and he recognizes that Portland's cultural riches are what make this city unique.
Social services: John Eder
As a case-worker assisting Portlanders who are homeless, mentally ill, or addicted to drugs or alcohol, John Eder has seen first-hand the damage that financial cuts and political apathy can do in the social-service sector. As a formerly homeless youth himself, he knows how to reach and help at-risk children and teenagers. And as a campaigner who has championed the city's working poor — by advocating for living wage, affordable healthcare, and better housing options — Eder has shown that he is passionate about helping the city's neediest citizens.
Relationship with state + federal government officials: Michael Brennan
Former state Senate Majority Leader Michael Brennan, who represented Portland in Augusta for 13 years, is something of a policy wonk. And that's a good thing. When trying to build consensus among various stakeholders, or gain support for Portland priorities at the State House, it's best to know your subject inside-out — fortunately, Brennan usually does.
Community/neighborhood development: Markos Miller
Public-school teacher Markos Miller embodies the concept of "community." He's a past president of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Association; he served on the committee that helped hire former Police Chief James Craig; and he's worked tirelessly on unsexy neighborhood issues like reforming the Community Development Block Grant program, re-envisioning Franklin Arterial, and advocating for sensible transportation options and mixed-use neighborhood centers both on- and off-peninsula. City Hall could use someone with Miller's skills; we hope to see more of him in the future.