PORTLAND — Imagine a candidate for Portland’s first elected mayor who understands the importance of economic development and the business community, but also recognizes that a thriving community is comprised of many – equal – voices.

Imagine a candidate who builds prosperity by mobilizing human, financial and natural resources for the benefit of our entire city. And imagine a candidate who knows that strong education, equal opportunity and sustainable development make a great city even greater.

We are fortunate to have such a candidate in Michael Brennan. It is no surprise that more and more citizens and organizations have publicly endorsed Brennan in the final weeks of the campaign. They recognize not only his vision for Portland’s future, but his proven ability to bring that vision into reality.

One impressive aspect of this vision is the thoughtful, effective way in which he approaches economic development. Avoiding quick fixes and false promises of many business and political leaders, he holds three ideas paramount in creating jobs and prosperity.

Education and skill development sit at the foundation of successful economic development. Ironically, hundreds of job postings in the Greater Portland area go unfulfilled due to inadequate skill attainment.
His experience as an education policy leader puts him in an excellent position to make good on his plan to use the mayoral position to better fill this skills gap.

He has received praise for his plan to facilitate better coordination between high school and higher education as well as within higher education.

Programs and agreements such as early college, inter-college credit alignment and at-the-workplace course delivery help fill job openings and get Portlanders into well-paying jobs.

Emphasize the local economy as a key method for growth. While the attraction of outside, national-level enterprises will be vital to our economic success, focusing on building our local economy helps stabilize our fiscal vitality and reinforces our unique brand.

Supporting the work of our local entrepreneurs, particularly our artists and artisans, through affordable housing, tax credits and public recognition can help the “creative economy” thrive.

Nurturing our local businesses by streamlining permitting, maintaining public infrastructure and safety can create economic sustainability and accelerate our opportunities.

Open economic opportunities for all citizens. Many times economic development schemes favor one individual or entity over the interests of the community at-large.
Brennan understands that effective long-term economic strategies must consider the needs of a multitude of stakeholders.

Educational opportunities for students and immigrants, capital for innovative ideas for small businesses and fair work force treatment for people of all ages, gender and background are essential to prosperity.
It is one thing, of course, to possess an exciting and inspiring political vision for our city. It is another to enact it and to construct the necessary coalitions to manifest it. Brennan’s track record of success in “getting the work done” makes it clear that few leaders possess his ability to set a vision, garner consensus and implement good policy.

While a state senator, his creative, broadly supported approach to the reformed school funding formula gave Portland new state resources after years of decline. Many said it couldn’t be done. Yet, Brennan succeeded because he found common ground between Portland’s urban educational needs and rural school districts.

Both types of schools struggled to meet the needs of low-income students. Uniting legislators throughout the state around these common challenges, Brennan helped bring a new student-focused approach to the distribution of state funds while chair of the Legislature’s education committee.

It is a unique and important time in Portland’s history. We need a mayor who can work successfully with others and embrace the potential of this new position to make a great city even greater. Michael Brennan stands uniquely in a place to do it.

— Special to the Press Herald