Politics

December 4, 2012

In first year, Portland's mayor walks softly

Michael Brennan has mostly stayed out of headlines, preferring to work behind the scenes to build consensus.

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

Today's poll: Mayor Brennan

Do you think Portland Mayor Michael Brennan has done a good job in his first year in office as elected mayor?

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Mayor Michael Brennan on the steps of Portland City Hall.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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ACCOMPLISHMENTS

• Led Mayors Coalition to lobby in Augusta for needs of cities

• Reduced the number of City Council committees to provide better staff support

• Established performance guidelines for the city manager and city clerk

• Actively opposed state cuts to General Assistance

• Laid the groundwork for a "research triangle" and education initiatives

• Started an initiative to increase the use of local produce and milk in schools.

 

DISAPPOINTMENTS

• Unsuccessfully lobbied against charter schools

Also in the coming year, Brennan expects to announce progress on his "research triangle," which seeks to address the problem of many job seekers lacking skills needed for the jobs available, and the Growing Portland education initiative. Brennan said he also has begun assembling a working group to look into ways the city can begin implementing the Affordable Care Act, which is facing opposition at the state level.

"Regardless of what the state does do or doesn't do, we're hoping to move forward in Portland to implement as much of the Affordable Care Act as we can," Brennan said.

WHAT NEXT THREE YEARS HOLD

Along with learning how local government works, Brennan's first year as mayor included overcoming a serious health problem.

Two weeks after his inauguration, he was diagnosed with cancer. He had a carcenoid tumor removed from his intestine, which put him on a part-time schedule for the first couple of months.

He still receives monthly treatment in the form of a hormone shot for the residual cancer in his liver that will never go away.

With the cancer shrinking and one year of leadership under his belt, Brennan has three more years to concentrate on his major policy goals and hold staff members accountable for their performance.

That will be the true value of having an elected mayor, said Nathan Smith, a former city councilor. Previously, mayors chosen by the council rotated every year, limiting the impact of the ceremonial job.

"Portland usually gets around to doing the things it should do, it just takes forever," Smith said. "It's that kind of continuity and sustained presence which is going to make (change) happen in a timely way."

Smith said Brennan's goal-setting for the city manager and city clerk, who are employed directly by the council, will ensure more accountability than a councilor could during a one-year appointment as mayor.

"That's a sea change," Smith said. "It crystallizes the will of the council and gives the manager direction."

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

rbillings@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @randybillings 

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Today's poll: Mayor Brennan

Do you think Portland Mayor Michael Brennan has done a good job in his first year in office as elected mayor?

Yes

No

View Results

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