Portland’s former director of equal opportunity and multicultural affairs, who resigned after an apparent dispute with workers at a private parking lot, has filed her intent to run for the Legislature.

Rachel Talbot Ross, also the longtime head of the Portland chapter of the NAACP, will compete in a three-way Democratic primary for House District 40, a seat currently held by Rep. Ben Chipman, a Portland Democrat who will run for the state Senate. Herbert Adams, a former legislator, and Anna Keller are also running.

Talbot Ross is seeking funding through the Maine Clean Election Act, the state’s public campaign financing program. If she qualifies, she will receive $2,500 for the primary contest. Her opponents are also running as Clean Election candidates.

Talbot Ross did not return a message seeking comment Monday.

She and her family have long ties to public service and the civil rights movement. Her father, former state Rep. Gerald Talbot of Portland, was Maine’s first black legislator. Her sister, Regina Phillips, is director of the city’s Refugee Services Program.

Talbot Ross came under scrutiny and eventually resigned her job as the city’s director of multicultural affairs last year. The city of Portland paid an outside law firm $6,098 to investigate a complaint that apparently led to her resignation. The investigation focused on an Aug. 26 incident that was likely captured on video and involved employees of Unified Parking Partners, a company that manages a number of private parking lots in the city, according to interviews and records that the Portland Press Herald obtained under the Freedom of Access Act.


Talbot Ross was placed on paid administrative leave a day after the incident. She submitted an undated letter of resignation after the investigation and signed a letter of separation with the city on Oct. 7, according to records the newspaper obtained under a previous public records request. Her resignation, which ended a 21-year career at City Hall, was effective Dec. 11.

City officials and Talbot Ross herself have declined to comment on the matter. In response to a records request, the city released Talbot Ross’ undated resignation letter and the separation agreement she signed with City Manager Jon Jennings.

Talbot became president of the Portland chapter of the NAACP in 2004. In November 2015, the organization’s regional president said the Portland chapter and its counterpart in Bangor had been operating without the approval of the national organization for two years.

Juan Cofield, president of the NAACP New England Association Conference, said the two Maine chapters were put on “inactive” status for not following bylaws. He would not elaborate, but did say the status was not related to any financial wrongdoing or because local NAACP officers have regularly testified before the Legislature over the years in violation of NAACP bylaws.

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:


Twitter: stevemistler

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