SOUTH PORTLAND — A councilor who resigned after serving less than one year of a three-year term says the City Council needs to change, be accountable and practice honesty, fairness and openness.

Adrian Dowling’s resignation followed a tense meeting last week, when discussions over a review of the city’s corporation counsel divided the council. Dowling seconded a motion by Councilor Eben Rose to place the item on the council’s agenda for a future workshop.

The District 5 councilor from the Brickhill neighborhood sent City Clerk Emily Scully an email just past midnight on Sept. 15, to say he was resigning, effective immediately, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Dowling, whose term expires in December 2020, served about 10 months in office. The council accepted his decision at Tuesday night’s meeting and also voted unanimously to tentatively set Dec. 11 aside for a special election to replace him.

In an email to reporters Sept. 17, Dowling said the culture of the City Council must change.
“Its new mission must be honesty, respect, fairness, communication, openness, competence, and accountability,” he said.
He said one councilor cannot do that alone, and the entire council must be willing, adding he hopes that day will come.

During the public comment period, several residents said Dowling was a strong and considerate voice on the panel.

John Murphy said Dowling was the future of the city, a man of integrity who listened to the public. Murphy said he was angry the council, in his view, segregated and berated certain councilors, namely Rose and Dowling.

Resident Ken Thomas said he hopes Dowling would be willing to return to the post if he was elected as a write-in candidate.

Councilor Claude Morgan said although he regrettably accepted Dowling’s resignation, the city must go on and finish its work.

Councilor Kate Lewis added that Dowling was an important component of discussion on the council.

“I thank him for his service. He’s a gentle soul and a brought a lot to the council,” Mayor Linda Cohen said of Dowling.

“I am proud of the things I accomplished during my year on the council,” said Dowling in the email. “I hope the next District 5 councilor will be welcomed warmly and that he or she will do great things for South Portland.”
Dowling previously served on the Planning Board before he was elected to the council. He disconnected the phone number posted on the city’s website under his contact information and could not be reached for further comment.

The City Charter provides the council with two options: either fill the vacancy or not. A special election must be held within 60 days of the vote to fill the office. Nomination papers would be available Oct. 17 if the council formally votes Oct. 16 to hold the special election, according to an email from Scully.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @JulietteLaaka. 

Adrian Dowling