The field of 15 candidates for Portland mayor appears to be set, but one would-be candidate is still trying to muscle onto the ballot.

Erick Bennett, who fell just a handful of signatures short of the 300 required to qualify for the ballot, picked up two more on Tuesday. But he still hasn’t made the cut.

Bennett handed in petitions with 392 signatures on Aug. 29, the last day to qualify for the ballot, but city officials threw out nearly 100 of them, primarily because the signers’ names didn’t show up on the voter registration rolls. Bennett ended up five votes shy.

He bought marked-up copies of his nominating petitions Tuesday to look at the city clerk’s decisions and asked for reviews of three signatures.

The clerk’s office re-rejected one, but agreed to allow the other two. In one case, the name was misspelled by the signer, and in the other case, the signature on the petition didn’t appear to match the one on the voter’s registration card. Upon review, it was judged to be close enough.

Nicole Clegg, a spokeswoman for the city, said the clerk’s office is willing to entertain a few more reviews if Bennett asks, but he was advised to see a lawyer if he wants to challenge the ruling that he won’t make the ballot.

Attempts to reach Bennett were unsuccessful.

Bennett was the only candidate to hand in petitions and fail to make the ballot. Three others — Hamza Haadoow, Peter Bryant and John Eder — handed in petitions and had so many signatures rejected that they fell below 300. However, they submitted their petitions well before the deadline and were able to collect additional signatures to meet the standard in time.

SNEAK PEEK

The clerk’s office is expected to send the ballot to the printer next week, and on Sept. 15, TrueBallot will explain to voters just what to do with it.

The company, hired by the city to count the ballots, will hold a public demonstration of voting procedures at 6:30 p.m. in the State of Maine Room.

The demonstration is needed because the city will use a ranked-choice voting system to pick a mayor.

Voters will be able to rank the candidates. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote on the first ballot, the last-place candidate will be dropped and his or her voters’ picks for second choice will be allocated to the respective candidates. The process will continue until a candidate gets a majority.

TrueBallot representatives will explain how the ranking will be done and explain how it will tally votes.

The city will count the votes on the first ballot the usual way, with optical scanning voting machines. If there’s no winner, TrueBallot will step in Nov. 9, the day after the voting, and use a machine to capture an image of each ballot. Software will then determine the voters’ ranked choices and do the tabulations until a candidate emerges with more than 50 percent of the vote.

YOU CAN’T VOTE HERE FROM THERE

Somebody doesn’t get it, or will be sorely disappointed come Election Day: a “Jed Rathband for Mayor” sign was planted on a lawn in front of a home.

On Route 77.

In Cape Elizabeth.

BACKING FOR BRENNAN

Michael Brennan has picked up a couple of endorsements from former legislative colleagues. Former Maine House Speaker Glenn Cummings and current Rep. Stephen Lovejoy, D-Portland, are backing the former state senator in his run for mayor.

Brennan touted that news after getting his Twitter account straightened out Tuesday.

The word was that his account and website had been hacked, but Brennan said only his Twitter account was affected, and it was an overload of spam, not hacking. After the problem was detected, it was cleared up in a few hours, he said.

GETTING TO THE ISSUES

Brennan and other candidates say they feel that the pace of the campaign, and the level of voters’ interest, will pick up now that Labor Day has passed.

Brennan noted this week’s two candidate forums — the field of 15 candidates apparently rules out debates — and he’s got several neighborhood events slated for the next week.

“Clearly, people’s calendars are starting to fill up,” he said. Labor Day, he said, “brings things into focus,” for both candidates and voters.

That’s especially true for Markos Miller, who is a candidate and a Spanish teacher at Deering High School.

Tuesday was the unofficial start of the campaign for Miller, and the official kickoff of the school year.

“It’s very palpable, now that there’s nine weeks to go to Election Day and there’s also the work and excitement of a new school year,” Miller said Tuesday.

Miller said a few kids commented on the fact that the teacher is running for mayor, he said, but most got the news when he announced before school let out in June.

“It makes the election much more real for them,” he said.

It’s also starting to sink in, for both the kids and Miller, what it would mean if he won and had to trade the classroom for the mayor’s office. “I can see there’s a little bittersweet feeling there,” he said.

CANDIDATES GET ROLLING

At least nine candidates have signed up to hit the lanes tonight at Bayside Bowl.

Charlie Mitchell said the nine six-person teams will nearly fill his 12-lane establishment, so it’s a good thing that not every candidate agreed to take part in the event, which will raise money for the Preble Street Resource Center.

Mitchell said he hopes the event will provide a low-key start to the campaign.

“It’s an hour of bowling mixed in with a half-hour of mingling,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]