PORTLAND – The three city councilors who were re-elected Tuesday are pledging to work together, even though two of them teamed up in an effort to unseat their colleague, a five-term councilor who served as mayor four times.
David Marshall and Kevin Donoghue endorsed political newcomer Wellington “Wells” Lyons over Nicholas Mavodones Jr., an at-large councilor who is finishing his 15th year on the council.
The endorsement came after Lyons built a significant fundraising advantage over Mavodones, $14,000 to $650.
The endorsement was a rare, but not unprecedented, move that some feared would create a deep division on the council, if Mavodones were re-elected.
But all three councilors brushed off that concern Wednesday, a day after Mavodones won the at-large race, 16,826 votes to 13,237.
Lyons, a 30-year-old attorney and small-business owner, ran a positive campaign, never criticizing Mavodones directly. Instead, he vowed to be a “responsive” councilor who would return phone calls and visit businesses.
Donoghue and Marshall echoed that message in their endorsements, while noting that Lyons’ policy positions were more in line with their ambitions.
Donoghue, who serves on the council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, now chaired by Mavodones, said Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the endorsement to affect their working relationship, especially regarding housing policies.
“My endorsement was not a negative endorsement of Nick, it was a positive endorsement of Wells,” Donoghue said.
Marshall predicted that he and Mavodones will be at odds, as they have in the past over issues such as the redevelopment of the Maine State Pier, having a popularly elected mayor and an ultimately unsuccessful proposal to ban franchises from the downtown.
Marshall accused Mavodones, the operations manager for Casco Bay Lines, of having a conflict of interest in deciding who should redevelop the pier, where the ferry service operates.
Marshall also favored an elected mayor and the ban on franchise businesses downtown, while Mavodones did not.
When Marshall and Donoghue, both Green Independents, were elected to the council in 2006, their progressive views were at odds with established councilors.
The political rivalry between Mavodones, a Democrat, and Marshall came to head in 2009.
At the time, the mayor’s position was largely ceremonial, filled by a city councilor. Marshall believed it was his turn to be chosen, arguing that the council had a precedent of appointing its most senior member who hadn’t yet held the position.
Mavodones said Wednesday that no such policy ever existed.
Last year, Mavodones and Marshall were candidates to be the city’s first popularly elected mayor since 1923. Mavodones placed third in the 15-way race. Marshall placed fourth.
From a policy standpoint, it wasn’t a surprise that Donoghue and Marshall endorsed Lyons over Mavodones.
Lyons was endorsed by the League of Young Voters and the Progressive Majority, a national group that promotes progressive candidates in local races.
From a practical standpoint, some observers said the public endorsement could divide the council, since councilors tend to work for candidates behind the scenes
Marshall said he respects Mavodones but expects the two will continually be at odds over policy.
But that doesn’t mean there will be any undercurrents of personal animosity.
“When the campaigns and the votes are done, we both do the same thing, which is move on the next issue or the next campaign and not carry bad blood about it,” said Marshall, who was re-elected to a third term in District 2.
Marshall said he looks forward to pursuing his goals of making High and State streets two-way roads, improving connections from Portland to Lewiston-Auburn — by bus or rail — and bringing roll-out, covered recycling bins to the city.
Mavodones agreed that he will occasionally be at odds with Marshall but said he will not take the political rivalry personally, especially the Greens’ endorsement of Lyons.
“It’s water over the dam,” said Mavodones, who said he looks forward to working on local development issues and investing in the city’s elementary schools.
Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at: