Michael Brennan, who in 2011 became the first popularly elected mayor in 90 years, has few rivals in this year’s race so far.

Portland Mayor Michael Brennan plans to announce his re-election bid Wednesday, according to his campaign.

Brennan has scheduled a 10 a.m. news conference to make the announcement at the Ocean Gateway Terminal, said Mary Erin Casale, who served as executive director of the Maine Democratic Party for nearly six years until November. Casale said she is a volunteer with Brennan’s re-election campaign.

Brennan became the city’s first popularly elected mayor in 2011 in nearly 90 years. He bested 15 candidates in an instant runoff election to win a four-year term and a salary of nearly $70,000 a year.

So far, this year’s mayoral race has not drawn much interest. Brennan will be the first viable candidate to declare his intention to run. The only other candidate to declare is Michael Anthony, a homeless man who announced his long-shot campaign in a YouTube video.

Nomination papers are not available until June 30 and at least 300 valid signatures from registered Portland voters are needed for a candidate to appear on the ballot.


Brennan, reached Tuesday night, said he would reserve comment until the news conference.

A private poll conducted in April tested three potential mayoral candidates – Brennan, political analyst and former state legislator Ethan Strimling, and former City Councilor Cheryl Leeman.

Strimling, who co-writes a column in the Maine Sunday Telegram, could not be reached on Tuesday, but has said he has no plans to run.

Leeman had previously indicated she was strongly considering a run, but on Tuesday she said she was no longer interested.

“I am humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from so many Portland residents who have encouraged me to run for mayor. Regrettably, I must decline,” she said in a written statement.

However, Leeman said the city needs leadership “that is not driven by ideological agendas and partisan politics” and called for additional transparency and greater attention to fiscal matters, such as property taxes.


Since taking office in 2011, Brennan has been mostly focused on state-level politics and has been willing to engage Gov. Paul LePage in high-profile battles about revenue sharing to municipalities, General Assistance for asylum-seekers and funding for homeless shelters.

Inside City Hall, Brennan has recently had a contentious relationship with some city councilors, as both sides continue to struggle to establish their newly defined roles outlined in the City Charter.

Councilors have asserted their rights to place items on meeting agendas and have complained about a lack of communication. Some have openly questioned whether having an elected mayor creates confusion and additional work for city staff, especially the corporation counsel, city clerk and city manager, all of whom work closely with the mayor but report to the council as a whole.

Over the last four years there has been a significant amount of turnover in high-level positions, including the city manager, deputy city manager, police chief, fire chief, planning director, finance director and health and human services director.

Brennan has launched a series of initiatives that haven’t gained much public attention. One aims to increase access to healthy foods in the community and the schools. The Mayor’s Initiative for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System consists of six subcommittees that are examining a range of proposals, including using goats to cut grass and planting edible landscapes of community gardens and apple, pear and peach orchards.

He also has launched a substance abuse task force and two education initiatives: Growing Portland and Portland ConnectEd.


However, Brennan’s signature policy proposal in 2014 – to raise the minimum wage in Portland – has stalled before the council. He also sought unsuccessfully to outmaneuver a group of residents who won a citywide referendum to protect Congress Square Plaza from development.

Craig Lapine, executive director of Cultivating Community, and Mary Allen Lindemann, owner of Coffee By Design, will join the mayor at his news conference Wednesday.

“As a small-business owner, I have found Mayor Brennan to be supportive of our efforts to grow our business in East Bayside as well as sustain our retail presence throughout Downtown Portland,” Lindemann said in an email. “It is critical for the future growth of Portland that we have a progressive mayor who is willing to stand up for what is in the best interest of all the people who live here.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: randybillings

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