PORTLAND – Long before I decided to run for mayor, I made it my business to listen to the people of Portland.

These days, I walk the city’s neighborhoods each evening, talking with voters of all political stripes (and none at all).

What do I hear? A lot of distrust. Voters across the board are saying they want a leader who won’t bring them more of the same.

They don’t trust the present Portland City Council. They do trust the city’s unique vitality, and they want a mayor who will bring new energy to the job of building and sustaining that vitality.

These voters are less interested in their mayor’s roots — many of the voters, after all, are newcomers to Portland — than they are in what that next mayor will do for Portland. They want an accomplished mayor who will push for forward-thinking council decisions and act on them.

Many people in Portland know me as an outsider-insider, Hispanic activist, corporate lobbyist, adjunct college professor, vice chair of Portland’s Democratic City Committee, green and business-friendly, retired government relations executive, community activist, civil rights activist, agent of change, an American success story with a background to rival Gov. LePage.

My wife, Vana, is a native Mainer. We moved to Portland and made it our home because we love the city and want to do what is best for it.

I did not come to Portland with the idea of becoming its mayor: I arrived before the elected-mayor provision in the charter was approved.

My candidacy is the fruit of a yearlong engagement in leadership and a realization of the future possibilities of a great city.

These possibilities came into sharp focus for me when I taught a course on Portland’s future at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute affiliated with the University of Southern Maine. Guest speakers from Portland were passionate about their city, and their passion was contagious.

I have been fortunate to earn the support of a wide range of people, from Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert to small-business owners, families, students and members of Portland’s creative community.

Elect me your mayor, and I promise you a hard-working, persuasive, dedicated and persistent leader, a mayor who will work with the powerful and powerless, who will make connections nationwide to make Portland a creative lighthouse for urban America’s future.

The strength or weakness of this next mayor depends not on a specific set of powers and duties, but on a set of personal qualities:

An ability to bring people of differing opinions together so that they know they’ve been heard.

•  A commitment to open public debate.

•  An ability to gain consensus among residents of diverse backgrounds and needs.

A commitment to carrying the message of Portland’s greatness to the wider world.

I promise you all of those qualities, plus a strong background in business, government and academia.

I know how to tackle the problems of large organizations (like a city government) because I’ve already done it.

Readers of my website, CarmonaMayor.com, will see examples of a candidate already working to expand Portland’s economy – a candidate emphasizing the need to increase revenues and consumer demand without Portland property tax increases.

Listening to Portland voters convinces me that they want a nonpartisan mayor with broad experience: someone who can be effective within the political establishment; someone who is not a part of the City Hall or state legislative power structures; someone who will work for Portland’s interests and not use the job as a steppingstone to higher office.

All of the candidates I met at our first public forum are decent people of good will. As mayor, I will gladly work with them in formulating inclusive city policies.

My aim is to get things done, recognizing that politics is never perfect and should never be the enemy of what is good.

A full-time mayor can lead a focused and decisive government. We have the opportunity on Nov. 8 to elect an executive who can put an already-great Portland on the rise to becoming an even greater city.

As Mayor Carmona, I will have no interest in short-term political gain. My ambition is the public interest.

My goal is to be the mayor Portlanders need: a consensus-builder within Portland and a tireless promoter of Portland in Maine, New England and the nation.

– Special to the Press Herald