August 17, 2011

Candidate won't divulge much about platform, will talk trash

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

We already know about the mayoral candidate who doesn't want to win. Now we have one who won't talk about what he would do as mayor of Portland.

At least not his whole platform, and certainly not all at once.

Peter Bryant, a 68-year-old retired merchant seaman, said he's following the advice of a couple of employees of TrueBallot, the company that's supplying the ballots and vote tabulating system for the ranked-choice voting in November, when Portland residents will elect their mayor for the first time since 1923.

Bryant said he told those employees his entire 10-point platform while waiting for them to demonstrate the system at City Hall earlier this year.

"They said, 'If you want to win this thing, keep your mouth shut until it starts coming out in the paper,' " Bryant said.

The workers said other candidates – there are now 20 in the field – would steal his ideas – and his thunder – if he put his entire platform out at once.

So Bryant is following that advice, sort of.

He has let word leak that he supports reviving heavy-item trash pickup days. He put up a sign on Baxter Boulevard supporting the twice-yearly service – when residents can leave refrigerators, couches and other large items by the curb for city crews to haul away – when he set up a table this summer to collect signatures for his candidacy petitions.

"Trucks were stopping," Bryant said. "People would stop their car and come over and sign my thing."

Bryant said he would:

Retain the current system of allowing individual items to be picked up by the city for $7.50.

Repeal an ordinance that forbids people from picking up items left out by others ("I got a great golf bag out of somebody's trash one time," Bryant said.)

Allow any resident who reports someone for illegal dumping to keep the city's $150 fine as a reward.

That's just one part of Bryant's plan to make Portland great again.

"The second (part of his program) is as good as the first one, I can tell you that," he said, but as with fine wine, voters will have to wait a bit.

Bryant joins Jay York – the guy who doesn't want your vote – as a candidate who is taking a slightly different approach to the race for mayor. York said he wants to run a losing campaign because he thinks the full-time mayor's job that has been created will cost more but lacks any real power.

QUESTIONNAIRE COMING SOON

Bryant might have a hard time with a questionnaire that Portland Tomorrow plans to send out to determine who, if anyone, the group of business executives will support for mayor. The idea of the questionnaire is to elicit the candidates' positions.

The group was a major force last year in supporting the city charter change to elect a mayor. Now, the group is trying to decide what to do with the field of 20 potential candidates, said Jim Cohen, a Portland lawyer and former city councilor and mayor.

Cohen said the group is likely to meet soon to come up with its questions to help find someone who can offer leadership, consensus-building skills and balanced policies that will help the city grow.

Portland Tomorrow supported a popularly elected mayor, arguing that Portland needs someone who's accountable to a broad constituency. The leaders of the effort, which includes former Councilors Pam Plumb and Nate Smith, would also likely have the fundraising prowess to plow a considerable amount of money into the candidate they endorse.

STRIMLING HAS FUNDRAISING GIFT

Speaking of money, Ethan Strimling is raising a considerable amount of it.

Strimling initially set a goal of $10,000 to raise by mid-August, then upped it to $15,000.

On Tuesday, he told supporters that he has raised $26,304.99, which is too bad because many observers believe it will take at least $26,305 to mount a credible campaign.

'REAL CANDIDATES' GET PETITIONS IN

The list of "real candidates" is growing slowly.

Mayoral candidates could start turning in their petitions to get on the ballot Monday. Seven candidates trooped to the city clerk's office on the first day, led by City Councilor Jill Duson.

Also turning in signatures Monday were Bryant; former state Rep. John Eder; current Mayor Nicholas Mavodones; Councilor David Marshall; Ralph Carmona, an instructor at the University of Southern Maine; and Hamza Haadoow, an immigrant businessman.

The clerk's office validated Duson's and Marshall's petitions, but told Haadow he needed about 45 more names because a number of people who signed his petition were not found on the city's list of registered voters. He has until Aug. 29 to come up with the additional signatures.

The clerk's office is working on the rest, including those from Jed Rathband, who owns a consulting company and turned in his petitions on Tuesday.

ACCOMMODATING CROWDED FIELD

Candidate forums are starting to be set up for the fall, and they will take a bit of planning, given the crowded field.

Take the Portland Club, for instance.

The club, which plans a candidates night Sept. 6, wrestled with the format.

Club member Cliff Gallant said a debate and then a moderated discussion were considered, then tossed out because of the number of likely candidates.

So the candidates will get two minutes to give their names and some brief remarks on why they should be elected. That process will likely take about an hour, including the time between candidates, assuming that all 20, or even most of them, get on the ballot. Plus, when's the last time a politician saw a time limit as anything resembling a hard-and-fast rule?

Then the candidates will adjourn to individual tables in the ballroom where people will be able to stop by and ask questions, kind of like speed-politicking.

"Fortunately, the grand ballroom will accommodate as many candidate tables as will be needed," Gallant said.

CARMONA BACKS CIVIC CENTER BOND

Carmona has thrown his support behind the $33 million bond proposed for renovation of the Cumberland County Civic Center. The proposal isn't a purely Portland question, since it will be voted on by all Cumberland County voters, but it's likely to be pretty popular in the city. Residents of outlying towns are expected to be less enthused.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: emurphy@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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Ethan Strimling

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Hamza Haadoow

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Jed Rathband

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Jill Duson

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John Eder

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Nicholas Mavodones

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Ralph Carmona

  


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