Last year, Will Everett, the former state director for the League of Young Voters, helped lead the charge to have a popularly elected mayor in this city.
Now three weeks before Election Day on Nov. 8, Everett said the race is going as well as he could have imagined.
“The cool thing to me is, one year ago, last December, the City Council picked a mayor (Nick Mavodones) with no input from voters, with no articulation of a vision and with no articulation from the City Council as to why that person should be mayor,” Everett said.
“Now, 15 candidates (including Mavodones) are having conversations we’ve never had before. They’re spelling out different visions of what Portland can be. They’re exchanging ideas. And in the end, the voters will get to decide which vision and which leader they like best. I think that’s really cool.”
As a member of Portland Tomorrow, a group that has advocated for an elected mayor, Everett is supporting former state senator Mike Brennan for mayor. The group came out with its endorsement last week.
EDER WANTS MORE CADETS
Former state representative John Eder said that if elected mayor, he’d like to expand the police cadets program. It’s a great way to combat litter, loitering and other small crimes, Eder said, which police in cruisers don’t always have time to deal with.
“I also think it’s a great way to learn the beat and learn the city,” he said. “Sometimes, spending all that time in cruisers can keep the policemen at a distance from the city and the residents.”
Eder said these small crimes have a large aggregate effect on Portland’s quality of life.
“If we don’t sweat the small stuff like littering and loitering, it has a big effect on the city’s livability. That’s when we start going downhill.”
Acting Police Chief Mike Sauschuck said the city currently pays for two, 40-hour per week summer cadets using a $5,000 grant from the Maine Community Foundation and a $2,700 grant from Portland’s Downtown District.
The money only covers the cadets in the summer. In years past, Sauschuck said, the city has had more cadets, but there isn’t enough money to do so now. He’d welcome any extra money to expand the program, he said, because the cadets “are the eyes and ears of the department” and the program helps train future police officers.
Eder did not say where he’d get the money to expand the program.
For his part though, Eder not only talks the talk but walks the walk when it comes to litter. As part of his mayoral bid, he and his campaign team have gone around the city picking up trash.
CANDIDATES “CALL” FOR CHANGE
Candidates Richard Dodge and Jed Rathband have an idea: calling out-of-town businesses to lure them to Portland.
Richard Dodge, the field’s lone Republican, pointed out at last week’s West End Neighborhood Association mayoral forum that Jackson Laboratory of Bar Harbor is planning a major expansion — 660 permanent jobs and 850 construction jobs — on the campus of the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Conn.
“Those jobs could have come to Portland,” Dodge said. “Do you know how (Jackson Laboratory) chose small-town Connecticut? The town called the company and asked if they wanted to come and were welcoming! That’s what we should have been doing.”
Technically, it wasn’t just a phone call that lured Jackson Lab to Connecticut. The state agreed to provide a $192 million loan to the company, and $99 million of the $1.1 billion project as part of public-private research projects. But we get Dodge’s sentiment.
Dodge’s speech echoed a proposal by Rathband from earlier in the race. Rathband said that if elected mayor, he would make 25 calls per week to out-of-town businesses to try to lure them to Portland.
FINDING COMMON GROUND
Eder, a Green Independent, probably doesn’t have much in common with Republican Gov. Paul LePage. But they agree on one issue: a residency requirement for social services.
Eder, a mental-health technician here in the city, said too many other cities and states send their mentally ill residents to Portland because of the city’s reputation as a great service provider.
But that’s not a sustainable model for Portland, he said. And the only way to force other cities to start offering quality services is to stop accepting their residents.
He said he would favor a residency requirement in Portland that would only allow Maine residents to get services here. “I’m inclined to agree with the governor on this one,” Eder said.
Candidate Hamza Haadoow said that if elected mayor, he’d work with neighboring cities on an agricultural program.
Haadoow said many immigrants in Portland have a farming background, but don’t have the land to put those skills to use. Many surrounding communities, however, are rural, he said.
As mayor, he’d like to design a regional program in which residents can lease land and farm it to grow food and make money.
Staff Writer Jason Singer can be reached at 791-6437 or: firstname.lastname@example.org