Thursday, April 24, 2014
Portland City Council incumbents Edward J. Suslovic and Jill Duson won re-election Tuesday night, while former state Rep. Jon Hinck won a three-year at-large seat vacated by John Anton.
In District 3, Suslovic got 1,912 votes, or 69 percent, to challenger Gregory Blouin’s 847 votes – 31 percent.
“I think I’ve broken my curse,” Suslovic said, watching the returns come in at City Hall. Suslovic, a former state representative who has served two nonconsecutive terms as a city councilor, had never before won a re-election campaign.
Hinck, who served three terms in the state Legislature, ran against businessman Wellington “Wells” Lyons for Anton’s seat. Hinck received 7,101 votes, 58 percent of the vote, to Lyons’ 5,171 votes, or 42 percent.
In another at-large race, longtime councilor Duson soundly defeated two political newcomers, Christopher Shorr and Gregory Smaha, with 6,081 or 47 percent of the vote. Smaha got 3,657 votes, or 28 percent, and Shorr got 3,178 votes, or 25 percent.
“I think they worked hard,” Duson said of her challengers, but said she wanted to keep working on many long-term issues, such as sewer abatement, developing Bayside and the 10-year Capital Improvement Plan. “It’s about moving forward, step by step. It’s important, nitty gritty work.”
The City Council oversees a $215.5 million municipal budget and sets the bottom line on school spending. Turnout Tuesday was pushed up by the ballot initiative on whether to legalize marijuana in the city. A total of 17,875 of Portland’s 50,551 registered voters cast ballots.
Hinck, 59, has served three terms as a state representative. Last year, he placed third in a four-way Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Olympia Snowe.
Lyons, 31, is co-owner and in-house attorney for Rogue Industries, a Portland-based manufacturer of wallets, shaving kits, credit card holders and electronics cases. Last year, he unsuccessfully challenged longtime City Councilor Nicholas Mavodones Jr. for an at-large seat, losing by about 3,500 votes.
Hinck and Lyons both supported legalization of marijuana in Portland. Hinck said the council should “send signals” to police officers to respect the will of voters, even though state and federal law would supersede a city ordinance.
Regarding the city budget, Hinck said he would ensure the city was run effectively and efficiently. Any department that is an outlier among its peers – including the fire department – would receive additional scrutiny, he said.
“I ran on jobs, education and the environment as my priorities,” he said Tuesday, after the results came in. “I really think the first job of the council is to make sure the city runs as efficiently as possible.”
Duson will now serve a four-year term rather than the usual three – a one-time adjustment to ensure there is an at-large seat at play in each election.
Duson, 59, is a compliance manager at the Maine Human Rights Commission and has served four terms on the City Council. She ran for mayor in 2011, placing sixth in a 15-way race.
In District 3, Suslovic faced Blouin, a 40-year-old laborer who has never before run for political office. Blouin is the son of state Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford.
Suslovic emphasized his constituent work and his experience as a community development consultant. He has been at the center of several contentious issues in recent years, including a ban on panhandling in median strips, enacting a free speech buffer zone around an abortion clinic, an effort to ban plastic foam containers, and the sale of a portion of Congress Square Plaza. He has also been critical of the staffing levels at the city’s fire department, pointing out they are higher than those in similarly-sized communities and urging the city to invest more on emergency medical services and hire more police officers to enforce quality-of-life issues.
Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:
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