PORTLAND – A handful of individuals have endorsed candidates for mayor, but some major groups have yet to make decisions.

Take the Portland Regional Chamber, where Chief Executive Officer Godfrey Wood isn’t even sure an endorsement is in the works.

Wood said the decision is in the hands of the Portland Community Chamber’s political action committee, which is working on a questionnaire to send to the candidates.

Once the questionnaire is sent out and the answers come in, the committee will have to decide whether to endorse one or several candidates to be Portland’s first popularly elected mayor in nearly 90 years.

If the answers from all 15 candidates aren’t that great, Wood said, the committee could decide to withhold an endorsement.

At the other end of the spectrum, “several” is an option because voters will cast ranked-choice ballots on Nov. 8.

Each voter can pick one candidate as his top choice and rank the rest, from two to 15. If no candidate has a majority after the ballots are counted the first time, the last-place candidate’s votes will be tossed out and votes will be allocated based on how his or her supporters ranked the other candidates.

The process will keep going until one candidate gets a majority.

The chamber was a big supporter of the charter change last fall that created the elected mayor, arguing that it would increase accountability in City Hall.

Regardless of who wins, Wood said the new mayor will be asked to speak at a chamber breakfast after the election.

THE SHORT ANSWER IS …

A group that includes three former mayors — from the era when the City Council chose one of its members to serve as mayor for a year — is almost certain to issue an endorsement in a few weeks.

Portland Tomorrow is a group of 10 community leaders, including those former mayors: James Cohen, Pamela Plumb and Nathan Smith.

The group has sent out its questionnaires, asking things like what are the “key roles and opportunities of an elected mayor?” Answers are to be 100 words or less.

Clearly, the group favors the concise. Candidates are also asked whether Portland’s government needs to change, and asked to explain why or why not in 25 words or less.

Cohen said the questionnaires are expected to start coming back in the next few days and the group has split up into twos, which each pair interviewing three candidates.

After that, the group will convene to go over the answers and discuss the interviews.

“We’re trying to move quickly here because, here we are, it’s already mid-September,” Cohen said.

Cohen notes that several members of Portland Tomorrow served on the charter commission that created the post of a full-time, elected mayor to serve a four-year term.

“I think we’ve assembled a group of folks who are familiar with the new charter and the characteristics of a mayor who could be best suited to take advantage of the changes in the charter,” Cohen said.

He said the endorsement or endorsements are intended to provide a little bit of information to voters who are “struggling with 15 candidates.”

Cohen also said that if the group does offer more than one endorsement, it will probably not suggest a ranking for voters.

AWAITING YOUNG VOTERS’ CHOICE

Finally, the Maine League of Young Voters will make an endorsement at its annual meeting on Sept. 22, although the choice may not be announced right away.

The league took a straw poll after its forum for candidates last week, with Michael Brennan coming out as the choice of those who attended. But Nicola Wells, state director of the group, said that has no bearing on an endorsement.

The organization has already sent out and collected its surveys from candidates and done interviews. Now, members who have put in at least eight hours of volunteer work over the last year can vote — ranked choice — at the annual meeting.

Wells said the choice may be announced once all the votes are counted, or the group may wait until it distributes its voters guide a few weeks later.

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

[email protected]