Portland has hired Jason Shedlock to fill the newly created post of special assistant to the mayor, the city announced Friday.

Shedlock, 36, was chief of staff to an at-large city council member in Washington, D.C., and most recently was the deputy director of emergency management and Board of Health for the Sagadahoc County Emergency Management Agency in Bath.

He will begin work at City Hall on April 4 and will earn $64,000 a year.

Shedlock’s job will include assisting Mayor Ethan Strimling in “developing, analyzing and achieving public policy goals, building community coalitions, (and) communicating with constituents.” He also will assist City Council committees and individual councilors, and will stand in for the mayor or councilors when they cannot attend meetings, according to the announcement.

Shedlock said he came to Maine nearly six years ago, drawn by its quality of life. He said he’s looking forward to helping find efficiencies in city government, reaching out to a diverse base of community groups, and finding ways to better integrate new Americans into the community and economy.

“It may sound strange but those are the things that make me excited,” he said. “This position, when I saw it become available, is something that (is) so much in track with what I did in Washington, D.C. I’m fortunate to have been selected.”

Strimling had been criticized for looking to hire a full-time assistant and for advertising the job with a maximum salary of $75,000. Strimling, who makes $70,000 a year as full-time mayor, has no control over the day-to-day operations of the city. Critics of the new administrative position included those who opposed the switch to an elected mayor in 2010.

The position is unique to Portland – at least in Maine. Other towns with elected mayors, including Westbrook, Biddeford, Saco and Augusta, don’t have staff assigned solely to the mayor’s office. Instead, they rely on the city manager or the manager’s executive assistants for help.

Shedlock beat out 57 other applicants for the position, seven of whom were granted in-person interviews, according to Jessica Grondin, City Hall’s communications director. Grondin said the speech-writing component of the special assistant position has been removed, because that is work she typically performs for the mayor, councilors and the manager.

“When we set our goals for the year, the council identified a number of challenges that we’d like to see addressed in order to improve the city of Portland and make it the best it can be for its residents,” Strimling said in a news release. “It’s going to take a lot of people working together to accomplish those goals. I’m excited to have Jason help move us forward.”

Councilors who were part of the interview panel said in a news release that Shedlock’s background working in a large municipality helped set him apart.

“I’m really impressed by Jason’s background and the fact that he has experience working for city councilors on policy issues,” said Councilor Nick Mavodones. “The council has a lot of work that we want to accomplish and this position will not only help us accomplish it, but will free up city staff who are often asked to assist.”

Both the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce and James Cohen, an attorney at Verrill Dana who provides legislative and lobbying services and is a former Portland Charter Commission member and city councilor, praised the addition of a full-time assistant for the mayor and council.

Shedlock has a bachelor’s degree in political science from The Catholic University of America and a master’s degree in government from Johns Hopkins University. He lives in South Portland and is the divorced father of a 4-year-old.

Shedlock worked in Washington for 15 years, first as a staff assistant to former U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., and later as a campaign manager and then chief of staff for at-large City Councilor Phil Mendelson, a Democrat. Shedlock said he is a longtime independent, who recently registered temporarily as a Democrat to participate in the caucuses.

While in D.C., he also served as a legislative analyst for the DC Council Committee on Human Services and worked as the senior associate of the Community Services Division of the National Association of Counties, a trade group of county governments.

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

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Twitter: randybillings


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