A special election to fill the vacated District 5 seat on the South Portland City Council will be held Tuesday, Dec. 11. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at South Portland Community Center, 21 Nelson Road. Surveys from the two candidates vying for the seat appear below in alphabetical order.
Name: Deqa Dhalac
Age: Not provided
Address: 10 Red Oak Drive, 2A
Phone: 344-9666
Occupation: Social worker
Family: Parent of three children: 25, 19, and 17.
Education completed: Masters in Development Policy & Practice from University of New Hampshire, MSW from University of New England.
Organizations and activities (including past political experience): Board chairman for Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition; board member, Maine Women’s Fund; and Community Advisory Committee, Maine Health Access Foundation. I have supported Get Out the Vote initiatives for Maine’s immigrant communities in multiple elections and I have canvassed for other candidates including Rachael Talbot Ross and Kim Rich. I am a graduate of Emerge Maine class of 2018
Top three issues: 
• Accessible government. I want to make participation in our city process and policies more accessible to everyone in South Portland. I want our communities to be able to participate in city events, and see that our newsletters are translated in the multiple languages that our residents speak to fully represent the diversity of voices in South Portland. Diversity is one of our city’s greatest assets. People from different socioeconomic statuses, age, races, ethnicity, religions, abilities and sexual orientations can all thrive in South Portland.
• Affordable housing. It should be a priority of every city councilor to make sure we’re doing everything we can to increase access to affordable housing. Conversations about affordability must address the challenge of people who live here, and the interests of people who would like to live in South Portland.
• Healthy environment. A sustainable environmental protection plan is critical to our lifespan as a healthy and beautiful city, country and planet. We must steward our natural resources from the trees that keep us cool to the ocean that serves as our sanctuary and source of income.
Why are you seeking elected office? 
I am running for city council because I believe all South Portland residents should have the opportunity to access quality education, safe and affordable housing and to live in a clean environment. I have been a community leader and advocate for families and children for a very long time and will bring the experience and knowledge I have gained to the council. I am running for this seat because I have been paying attention to the issues facing our city and how those issues can be solved. South Portland deserves leaders who are experienced, principled, willing to overcome differences and reflect the diversity of the residents of our city to reach solution that works for everyone.
Name: Donald Cook
Age: 67
Family: Adult son and daughter
Occupation: Businessman
Education completed: 1970 graduate, South Portland High School, USM courses.
Organizations and activities (including past political experience): I served on the Lottery Advisory Council for eight years. I have cooked at Preble Resource Centering feeding the homeless for 30 years.
Top three issues:
• I think preparing a budget that meets the needs of all members of the community is the major issue. A well thought out budget assures a quality education of our children. It also provides for the services provided by the city to the community. Fire and police personnel must have the training and equipment needed to save lives and protect the city. Without proper training and materials, the valued employees of South Portland cannot serve the citizens as well as they desire. Climate change, rental issues and managing growth citywide are all affected by decisions made in budget considerations.
• These budget needs must be balanced against the ability of the people of South Portland to finance them. South Portland is a city built by hard-working blue-collar workers, from workers at the railroad, the working waterfront, warehouses and the large retail presence in the city. These are the people who we are responsible to in handling their money. It is of the utmost importance to remember the fact the funds are not the city’s, they are the taxpayers. The taxpayers of the city are varied. Elderly people need a tax rate that allows them to remain in their homes without worrying about a high tax bill. Families should not have to work two jobs to pay their taxes. They should be able to spoil their children a little, not forced to pay for a bloated budget.
• A well thought out budget addresses all issues important to our citizens and businesses, safety, protection, education, climate change and rental issues.
Why are you seeking elected office? 
I am running for city council to give back to the city that has educated me, protected me and allowed me to earn a living. Since starting Cookies Variety in 1977 and Rolando’s Redemption in 1999, I have listened to the concerns of my customers. Being a lifelong resident, I bring a knowledge of what South Portland was and how it got to be the city it is now. I have seen the errors and the successes of city government. With the input of the people, I think I will be able to do what is best for South Portland. My idea of what a city councilor should be is someone who listens carefully to the citizens and city employees, then decides an issue based on the information gained from his or her life experiences. I may not always vote the way you want, but I will always with the utmost sincerity and compassion consider your concerns. My only political promise is to not take myself too seriously.
I am just a concerned citizen running for office. I do not have a well-organized political machine as my opponent has, so I would appreciate your vote on Dec. 11.