PORTLAND – The group that supports a ballot proposal for a popularly elected mayor for Portland has far outspent opponents and has business interests lined up to provide more money if it’s needed.

The Portland Community Chamber has donated $2,500 to Elect Our Mayor, Yes on 1, about a quarter of the total that group has raised, said Jed Rathband, who is running that campaign.

Rathband said his group has raised about $10,000, with a month to go before the election, and spent about $5,500, most of it for literature that’s being distributed door to door and salaries of the organization’s staff.

He said he doubts the group will need to raise more than $20,000 for the effort, although “we’re going to ramp it up in the next month.”

In addition to the Portland Community Chamber’s support, the Portland Regional Chamber — a sort of parent organization to community chambers — is encouraging its members to make contributions, said Godfrey Wood, chief executive officer of that group. Wood noted that he has contributed $500 to Elect Our Mayor.

Cheryl Leeman, a Portland city councilor who leads the opposition group, Citizens to Retain Responsible Government, said her group has raised and spent about $500, with the money going to stencils and wood for signs.

“We have nothing,” she said.

Neither group has filed a campaign spending report yet. The next report, covering fundraising and spending through Sept. 30, isn’t due until Oct. 12.

Wood said businesses support a popularly elected mayor because they believe the city needs a leader who is accountable. Under the current city charter, the mayor is one of the nine city councilors, elected by the rest of the council, and usually serves for only a year. The mayor’s duties are largely ceremonial.

The proposal for an elected mayor, developed by the Portland Charter Commission, calls for a full-time post with an annual salary of about $66,000, a four-year term and duties that include chairing council meetings. The mayor would have a vote on the council and could veto budgets.

Leeman said some of her group’s members support a popularly elected mayor, but not the proposal by the charter commission. She said the proposal calls for a full-time mayor at a relatively high cost, with responsibilities that remain largely ceremonial.

Rod Ward, president of the Portland Community Chamber, said his group or its members could raise more money if the campaign for an elected mayor needs it.

“It remains to be seen how much we’ll be giving,” depending on whether Rathband thinks additional money is needed, Ward said.

“We’re not going to try to bury anybody with money, but we are trying to get the issue out there clearly for voters,” he said.

Rathband said he welcomes the support of business leaders, which counters the arguments of opponents who say an elected mayor would create a bureaucracy that would increase taxes.

“Our message is resonating,” he said.

Leeman said, “We’re having to run a campaign the old-fashioned way,” with inexpensive signs and word-of-mouth campaigning.

“We know we’re up against big money, which to me is so telling,” said Leeman, who contends that an elected mayor would be beholden to business interests that helped to create the post.

Leeman, a Republican, said her opposition to the proposal puts her in the unusual position of lining up against the business establishment, with which her party is often aligned.

“It is an interesting situation,” she said. “If they think they can buy political favor with an elected mayor, that’s not in their best interests or in the city of Portland’s best interests.”

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be reached at 791-6465 or at:

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