Discord at Portland City Hall, according to Mayor Ethan Strimling, paraphrased in a recent Maine Sunday Telegram article, is a matter of “struggling to evolve,” not politics. However, an elected mayor by definition is political and possibly subject to desires of power and aspirations to higher office while appearing relevant to populist interests.

Reporter Randy Billings listed contentious issues attributed to this mayor within months of his election; one missing is the mayor’s call to reconsider development of the Maine State Pier, which raises issues of whether there’s been inappropriate communication between the mayor and a local developer on the project.

The Telegram article suggests to me the mayor interfered with the recent council election by involvement with a politically based poll. The mayor endorsed the opponent of an incumbent councilor who wouldn’t support him in last year’s mayoral race.

This appears to go beyond meddling and into election manipulation. Isn’t this behavior one reason why so many feel they are disenfranchised from government? Doesn’t this question the integrity of the election process on fairness and transparency?

A prime argument for an elected mayor was to show Augusta Portland’s political will. Those familiar with Augusta know that many requests brought north from this city are laughed off as a “Portland bill.” The open distrust displayed by the mayor’s placing a white-noise speaker at his office door broadcasts Portland’s political dysfunction to Augusta, not our political cohesiveness.

Prior to the recent elected mayor position, Portland had been achieving a positive national reputation. Let’s not spoil it.

Pamela Plumb’s Charter Committee, which recommended an elected mayor, should meet again to determine how the total and increasing costs to run the mayor’s office could be better spent for Portland’s many legitimate needs. I believe Portland would be better off for it.

Robert Kahn