Kate Snyder, a former school board chairperson and the current executive director of an educational nonprofit, on Tuesday announced her candidacy to become Portland’s next mayor.

Snyder, 49, joins a growing field of candidates looking to unseat incumbent Mayor Ethan Strimling, who has been raising money since November for a re-election campaign but has not yet made a formal announcement.

Kate Snyder Photo courtesy of Kate Snyder

Snyder said she wants to establish appropriate local funding for schools and balance the city’s growth in a way that preserves Portland’s past while planning for a future that includes a diverse housing supply.

“We need a mayor who is experienced, open-minded, and deeply committed to local issues,” Snyder said in a written statement. “It’s time for a new perspective.”

Snyder is currently the executive director of the Foundation for Portland Schools, a nonprofit that strives to increase philanthropic support for Portland schools to enhance educational opportunities for present and future students.

In 2017-2018, the foundation raised over $400,000 in revenue, plus an additional $43,000 in in-kind contributions, according to its annual report. About $15,000 was spent on operations and administration, while the rest went to programming, including $74,000 in grants to teachers, $125,000 for Culture Club-Portland, which provides free arts programming for students, and $50,000 for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade literacy resources, among other things.

Snyder previously served two terms – from 2007 to 2013 – on the Portland school board, including two years as chair of the finance committee and two years as chairperson of the board. She joined the board as the school district came under intense scrutiny for a nearly $2 million budget deficit that led to an independent investigation and to the resignation of Mary Jo O’Connor as superintendent.

Snyder said in a news release that she believes the mayor should be a steward of the needs and voices of the community, while also working collaboratively with the City Council and community toward common goals. She said the community needs a mayor who is experienced and sensible, someone who genuinely listens, values diverse perspectives, and works to bring balance to conversations about the future of the city.

Snyder holds an undergraduate degree from Skidmore College, a Master’s degree in Public Policy & Management from the Muskie School at USM, and a Certificate of Graduate Studies in Applied Research and Evaluation Methods.

Snyder, who is married with three children, becomes the fourth person to announce their candidacy for the November election.

City Councilors Justin Costa, Belinda Ray and Spencer Thibodeau have already made announcements.

Portland’s mayor serves a four-year term. It’s a full-time position that pays about $75,000 a year, but the mayor does not have any executive authority. While daily operations are overseen by the city manager, the mayor votes on all issues before the council and is charged with working with councilors to establish and implement goals for the city.

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

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