Just days after Portland Mayor Michael Brennan announced that he will seek re-election in November, City Councilor Edward Suslovic is testing the waters, saying he is “strongly considering” a run for mayor himself.

Suslovic said he was a supporter of Brennan in 2011 when he beat out 14 other candidates. But he said Brennan’s term in office has led to low morale among city staff, a high rate of turnover among department heads, a community divided over development, and budget problems that are not sustainable.

“As a council, we’ve tried to make improvements, but I would argue that things have gotten worse, rather than better,” Suslovic said Friday. “The leadership of Portland needs to make sure the city is on a sustainable path.”

Brennan formally announced his re-election campaign Wednesday, saying he wanted to continue to work on his education, workforce development and local food initiatives while also ensuring that Portland continues to be a welcoming and compassionate city of opportunity for everyone.

Former City Councilor Cheryl Leeman also had been strongly considering a mayoral run, but pulled out the day before Brennan’s announcement. Ethan Strimling, a former Maine legislator, said Wednesday he has no plans to run, even though one of his supporters released a private poll in April showing that he could beat Brennan in a head-to-head matchup. However, Strimling, who lost in 2011 by 1,900 votes, noted that he continues to listen to his supporters and the mayor’s re-election message.

At-Large City Councilor Nicholas Mavodones said Friday that he, too, has been encouraged to run for mayor and has told supporters that he would consider it.

“I haven’t thought about that too, too much,” Mavodones said.

Reached Sunday evening, Brennan said he was surprised by Suslovic’s comments. “Just two months ago, he had offered to help me with my re-election campaign,” Brennan said.

Brennan said Suslovic has not spoken with him about his plans to run for mayor.

“I disagree with some of his characterizations,” Brennan said. “I think things in the city have improved tremendously. Unemployment is low, the economy has improved, and we have people who want to move to the city.”

Suslovic said Brennan, a former Maine Senate majority leader, has focused “almost exclusively on what’s happening in Augusta,” advocating for the preservation of funding for education, revenue sharing, emergency shelters and General Assistance for asylum seekers and visa holders.

“Yes … General Assistance and emergency shelter are essential services provided by the city of Portland, but they’re not the only essential services provided by the city of Portland,” Suslovic said, noting the need for public safety and improvements to streets and sidewalks. “The trick is providing a balance.”

Suslovic said Portland has benefited in recent years from private sector investment, but serious challenges remain, particularly in the city’s long-term budget for capital improvement projects. In the coming years, the council will need to prioritize competing needs between the city and school department, he said.

Suslovic said one of the most important roles of the mayor is to be the chairman of the council and to be able to run council meetings effectively.

“Like it or not, technically we still have a weak-mayor form of government and a strong manager,” Suslovic said. “It requires a more collaborative approach in order to make the system work effectively.”

Suslovic, a three-term councilor and former state legislator, said staff morale is “the lowest I’ve seen it” at City Hall. Mavodones said that, although he doesn’t spend many of his daytime hours at City Hall, “my observation is that (Suslovic) is on the right track” with his characterization.

While Mavodones is considering a run for mayor, he said he is “leaning against” seeking re-election for his at-large seat, though no final decisions have been made.

“It’s been a pretty challenging time on the council and that’s probably what’s giving me pause,” said Mavodones, who has served on the council for 18 years. “It’s not solely (the mayor), but certainly the mayor is supposed to be leading the council and … there doesn’t seem to be a very clear path in a lot of areas that the mayor and the councilors have bought into as a group.”

Meanwhile, other council races are beginning to take shape, with Green Independents representing District 1 in the East End and District 2 in the West End facing Democratic challengers.

Councilors Kevin Donoghue and David Marshall, both of whom are in their third terms, said they won’t announce their intentions until after the council approves a budget for the upcoming year.

“At this point, I’m just not really interested in adding any more political dynamics to the council because we have a really difficult decision before us,” Marshall said. “It isn’t necessarily going to make the dynamics on the council any easier.”

In District 2, Marshall is facing a challenge from Spencer Thibodeau, a 27-year-old real estate attorney at the Portland-based law firm Verrill Dana and a resident of Pitt Street. Thibodeau has filed paperwork at City Hall to begin fundraising and formally launched his campaign Tuesday at the Little Tap House, where he was endorsed by Councilor Jon Hinck.

Thibodeau said he is running to ensure that during difficult financial times, the council’s priorities are aligned with those of the neighborhood.

“Whether it’s making sure streets are plowed, sidewalks are safe, or crosswalks are painted, it is these basic city functions that most dramatically affect the livelihood of Portlanders but are too often overlooked in favor of loftier ideas,” Thibodeau said. “As the District 2 councilor, I will be that responsive and energetic leader.”

In District 1, Donoghue is facing a potential challenge from Brandon Mazer, a 29-year-old attorney who is the general counsel for Shipyard Brewing Co. Mazer, who lives on the Eastern Promenade, has also filed initial paperwork at City Hall.

“It is my hope that we can continue to have a thriving and livable downtown, and I believe that my legal and work experience coupled with my passion for public service will help to achieve that goal,” Mazer said.

City Clerk Katherine Jones said Michael Coffey, a homeless man, also has filed initial paperwork to run for the at-large council seat.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

This story was corrected at 9:40 a.m. on Monday, June 8 to specify that Mayor Brennan is a former Maine Senate majority leader. A previous version incorrectly stated that he was Senate president.