Five former Portland mayors, including former U.S. Rep. Tom Allen and Republican Cheryl Leeman, have offered their formal endorsement of Ethan Strimling in this year’s mayoral race.

All five – Allen, Leeman, Jack Dawson, Linda Abromson and Anne Pringle – said at a news conference Monday that Strimling would be a more collaborative leader than current Mayor Michael Brennan.

“A mayor has to listen to people from all walks of life,” said Allen, Portland mayor from 1991-92 and also a six-term congressman who has been out of politics since 2008, when he unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. “If I’ve learned anything … it’s that no one side has all the answers.”

Strimling is challenging fellow Democrat Brennan, who defeated him four years ago in Portland’s first popularly elected mayoral race in nearly a century. Tom MacMillan, a Green Independent candidate, also is on the ballot.

The former mayors, all of whom were chosen by the City Council, talked about Strimling as someone who would listen to the concerns of everyone.

“A mayor must not be a leader who declares a vision and shouts, ‘Follow me,'” said Pringle, in what appeared to be a subtle shot at Brennan.


Abromson said she’s tired of seeing so many 5-4 votes by the current City Council and also discouraged by the high turnover among the city staff. She said Brennan may not be responsible for that turnover, but it happened on his watch.

Dawson said he never supported switching to an elected mayor system because he thought it would create two leaders – the mayor and the city manager. But he said now that the system is in place, he thinks Strimling’s “time has come.”

Leeman was not able to attend Monday’s news conference, but Strimling’s campaign said the longtime former councilor is backing Strimling, too.

“Given the choice, I trust Ethan Strimling to lead the city as mayor with a refocused attention on what, I expect and believe, will be in the best interest of the city, setting priorities based on identified community needs through an inclusive, transparent decision-making process,” Leeman said in a statement.

Strimling has previously been endorsed by three more-recent former mayors – Nick Mavadones Jr., Ed Suslovic and Jill Duson.

Brennan said he’s worried less about endorsements and more about what voters think.

“The biggest question voters should ask when they go to the polls on November 3rd is: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?” he said in a statement. “Portland has made tremendous progress over the past four years: Unemployment is under 4 percent, our schools are stronger than ever, and we have strengthened the city’s voice in Augusta.”

Brennan also said Strimling has yet to be direct with voters about how he plans to govern and said blaming him for any staff turnover is an attempt to “score cheap political points.”

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