Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling launched his re-election campaign Wednesday evening with a speech that included a poke at President Trump and prompted a crowd of supporters to chant “four more years.”

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling

Surrounded by about 100 union workers, firefighters, immigrants, school board members and parents at Presumpscot Elementary School, he said that if residents want their voices heard they need to elect a candidate like him who is not afraid to stand up to entrenched City Hall policies.

“I’ve brought your voice to City Hall and been able to deliver results that matter to all of us,” Strimling said. “With your support, we can achieve so much more for the people of Portland.”

Strimling faces challenges from three Portland city councilors in November: Justin Costa, who represents District 4, District 2 Councilor Spencer Thibodeau and District 1 Councilor Belinda Ray. Former School Board member Kate Snyder is also running for mayor.

Thibodeau weighed in Wednesday with a statement that criticized Strimling’s record.

“If the past four years have shown us anything it is that the Mayor’s divisiveness is an unnecessary obstacle that is holding Portland back,” Thibodeau said. “It is time for a new generation of leaders to step forward to serve our community.

“As Portland’s next Mayor, I’ll continue to bring people together so we can improve our schools, ease the property tax burden, welcome our immigrant neighbors, and create real opportunities for workers and small businesses across our city,” Thibodeau said in the statement.

Strimling declined to respond to Thibodeau’s comments.

Nine speakers, representing every district in Portland, spoke at Wednesday’s campaign rally, including Emily Figdor, a member of the Portland School Board.

“We’ve made incredible progress on public education over the last few years and none of it would have been possible without Mayor Strimling,” Figdor said.

Hawo Mohamed, a Somali immigrant, told the crowd that Strimling has stood by Portland’s immigrant community, despite  threats from the Trump administration. She said Strimling understands that immigrants represent the backbone of Portland’s future.

“His words and actions reflect his strong belief that we need to come together and rise up in the face of hate, discrimination and xenophobia,” she said.

Strimling finished his speech by taking a jab at Trump. Strimling recalled that Trump a few months ago threatened to send immigrants from the southern border to so-called sanctuary cities like Portland “because we are welcoming.”

“When he said that, I said, bring it on. We’ll take them,” Strimling said.

Strimling pointed out that Maine is a predominantly white state with an aging population. Young immigrants are desperately needed in places such as Portland.

“This city has been built by immigrants, generation after generation,” he said.

Michael Brennan served one term after being elected in 2011, the city’s first popularly elected mayor in 90 years. Strimling defeated Brennan in November 2015.

Strimling filed his initial paperwork to run for a second term in November 2018 and has been raising campaign funds for months, but had refrained from making an official announcement.

In addition to his live  launch event, Strimling also posted a new campaign video on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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