PORTLAND — It has only been a week since nomination papers became available, but residents are lining up to fill at-large seats on the City Council.
As of Friday afternoon, six residents had expressed early interest in running for two at-large seats on the council, including a former state representative and a 2011 mayoral candidate.
Jon Hinck, a 59-year-old Portland lawyer and three-term state representative, took out nomination papers for a three-year at-large seat. Hinck, of Pine Street, is an environmentalist who ran unsuccessfully in 2012 in a four-way race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Congress.
This year, one at-large seat will be for a four-year term – a one-time fix that will ensure an at-large race in each election cycle. That cycle was thrown off when the council devoted one of four at-large seats for the popularly elected mayor position.
Hinck said he is still interested in state and national politics, but is running for City Council to make a difference in his city, especially when tackling issues of homelessness and energy efficiency.
“Public policy interests me,” Hinck said, highlighting the intersection of state and local politics. “I think it’s possible with concentrated effort and good people working at it to get public policy right.”
At-large City Councilor John Anton is not seeking re-election this year, leaving only one incumbent in the at-large races.
City Councilor Jill Duson, of Pennell Road, has taken out papers for the four-year at-large seat. Her potential challenger is Phipps Road resident Gregory Smaha, a 29-year-old who was born and raised in Portland.
Smaha currently works as the supply chain and expense control leader for LAI International. He oversees a $60 million budget for the precision manufacturer, which has offices in Scarborough, Maryland, Arizona and Minnesota.
His great-grandfather helped to start Smaha’s Legion Square Market in South Portland, and his grandfather owned the IGA supermarkets in Portland.
Smaha said controlling expenses will likely top his agenda. “I just see a lot of waste, as far as spending is concerned,” he said.
Grant Street resident Adam Marletta, 31, also took out nomination papers. But on Friday, Marletta said he has since decided against running for the council.
Meanwhile, more well-known challengers are lining up for the three-year seat.
In addition to Hinck, Wellington “Wells” Lyons, a lawyer and co-owner of Rogue Industries, and Ralph Carmona, an adjunct professor at Southern Maine Community College, have taken out nomination papers for the three-year seat. Both have sought elected office in Portland before.
In his first foray into electoral politics, Lyons ran a solid campaign last year against longtime Councilor Nicholas Mavodones Jr. Lyons raised more than $14,000 – an exceptional amount for an at-large race – and received public endorsements from two sitting councilors.
Candidates for City Council typically raise a few thousand dollars.
Lyons, of Danforth Street, received 44 percent of the vote, losing by less than 3,600 votes to the 15-year council veteran Mavodones.
Carmona, of North Street, ran for the elected mayor post in 2011. He placed 11th in the 15-way race, raising more than $13,500, mostly from out-of-state sources. He recently assembled a panel of concerned citizens in response to the Friends of the St. Lawrences’ proposed concert hall on Munjoy Hill.
No one has taken out papers for the District 3 council seat that is currently held by Edward Suslovic, who has said he will seek re-election.
Three seats on the Portland Board of Public Education are also up for grabs. Incumbent Laurie Davis is the only resident to have taken out nomination papers for the District 3 seat. No one has taken out papers for the two at-large seats, currently held by Jaimey Caron and Kathleen Snyder.
Residents must collect between 300 and 500 valid signatures to appear on the ballot as an at-large candidate.
Residents seeking a district-bound seat need to collect between 75 and 150 valid signatures to appear on the ballot.
Nomination papers are due by 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 26.
Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at: