November 2, 2011

Mayor candidate Miller critical of Portland's current leadership

Strimling proposes a tax break and some other candidates agree to collaborate.

By Jason Singer jsinger@pressherald.com
Assistant City Editor / Online

PORTLAND — Markos Miller began this mayoral campaign as the friendly, consensus-building Spanish teacher who almost seemed too nice to criticize his opponents.

ON THE RADIO

TUNE IN to NewsRadio 560 WGAN at 8:08 a.m. today to hear Staff Writer Jason Singer discuss the mayor’s race in Portland.
 

Six days from Election Day, he’s still extremely nice, but he’s developed a muy picante side when needed.

At a debate last week at St. Peter’s Church, Miller blasted the city’s economic development decisions under the current city council.

“If I’m elected mayor, building a hotel will not count as economic development,” he said, providing a sharp rebuke to previous statements made by City Councilor and current Mayor Nick Mavodones.

Miller said Portland residents deserve better jobs than “dishwasher” or “pulling sheets.” He said the city needs to streamline zoning regulations, provide incentives for developers to build quality and diverse housing and focus on improving schools.

Good neighborhoods, good housing and quality schools will attract families, he said, and “businesses and employers will follow. They want to be where the people are.”

STRIMLING PROPOSES TAX BREAK

If elected mayor Nov. 8, Ethan Strimling has a plan to ease the tax burden on elderly residents struggling to pay their bills.

At a debate last week, Strimling said as mayor he would propose a local “circuit breaker” program, which would provide some elderly residents a property tax rebate.

The state has a similar program, but it doesn’t provide enough relief, Strimling said.

“We have to prioritize that in our budget,” he said. “We can’t have our elderly unable to heat their homes because they can’t afford their property tax bills. The state gave the city the tools to provide that relief, and it’s frustrating we haven’t taken advantage of it yet.”

Candidates agree to collaborate

Jodie Lapchick, John Eder, Peter Bryant. Charles Bragdon, Richard Dodge and several other candidates said regardless of who wins, the new mayor should implement the best ideas that have surfaced during the campaign.

“A lot of good ideas have been mentioned in this race,” Eder said. “They shouldn’t go to waste.”

Lapchick said she will organize a meeting of the 15 candidates after the race ends to hash out some of the proposals. Dodge said if he wins, he plans to appoint some of the other candidates to committees related to their best ideas.

Rathband, Miller take on housing ordinance

Of the 13 mayoral candidates at a forum last week, only Jed Rathband and Miller said the city should repeal its controversial Housing Replacement Ordinance.

The ordinance requires developers to replace units they eliminate or pay into a development fund.

“We need to recognize that it’s stopping developers from investing in this city,” Rathband said. “We should promote development, not penalize developers.”

Mavodones nabs two more endorsements

The New England Regional Council of Carpenters, Local 1996, and the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 481, endorsed Mavodones this week.

John Leavitt, business manager for the carpenters union, said Mavodones’ experience as a union leader at Casco Bay Lines helped win the endorsement.

“Nick has sat on both sides of the negotiating table and has displayed a knack for getting the best results on the toughest issues,” Leavitt said. “That is the kind of mayor Portland needs.”

Staff Writer Jason Singer can be reached at 791-6437 or: jsinger@mainetoday.com

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