PORTLAND – The Portland Community Chamber’s political action committee named Jed Rathband on Wednesday as its No. 1 choice to be the city’s first popularly elected mayor in 88 years.

Rathband, who has never held or run for political office, said he was “surprised but thrilled” with the endorsement. “My economic message is obviously catching on.”

The Portland Community Chamber advocates for about 600 local employers, said Chris O’Neil, the chamber’s liaison to the city. In a news release Wednesday, Michael Bourque, president of the chamber, said Rathband’s economic message and communication skills impressed the chamber.

“Rathband brings the right balance of fresh thinking and political experience to the new mayor position,” Bourque said. “He is solid on the issues, high energy and a great communicator. He’ll be a bridge to the new Portland that so many of our members want.”

Rathband, a political consultant, has made education the cornerstone of his campaign, and said it is vital to the city’s economy. He has advocated reworking the school and city budgets to invest more into the schools’ program for gifted and talented students.

A nationally acclaimed program for high achievers will attract innovators to the city who want to send their kids to the most challenging and acclaimed schools, he said. Those innovators will then create jobs in the city.

Rathband also has promised to make at least 25 calls to out-of-state businesses per week to try to entice them to come to Portland.

Besides Rathband, the chamber said three other candidates – Ethan Strimling and City Councilors David Marshall and Nicholas Mavodones – are “worthy of mention.”

The chamber said Marshall “brings a wealth of energy and ideas to the race” and gave more detailed responses to the chamber’s questions than any other candidate.

It said Mavodones has “an experienced, steady hand in Portland government.”

It said Strimling has “gained attention with his call for strong, accountable leadership and with a pro-development agenda designed to remove barriers to growth in the city.”

The chamber explained why it didn’t endorse any of those three candidates.

Marshall hasn’t developed the leadership skills to go along with his intellect yet, it said. Mavodones doesn’t fit the voters’ call for change. And Strimling only recently turned to a pro-growth position, the chamber said, “and this leaves room for uncertainty.”

“People who are interested in a robust Portland economy should rate (these three) high on their ranked-choice ballot,” the chamber said in its release. “Each could prove successful as a Portland mayor.”

Staff Writer Jason Singer can be contacted at 791-6437 or at:

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