City Councilor Justin Costa said Friday that he is ending his campaign to be Portland’s next mayor.

Justin Costa, a Portland city councilor who represents District 4, which includes East Deering and Back Cove, withdraws from the mayoral race.

Costa said in a written statement that a series of personal events has prevented him from building a strong campaign, so he’s dropping out.

“We had a death in the family, a serious cancer scare, and I just got engaged last week,” Costa said. “All of that has meant that I haven’t been able to dedicate my time to campaigning, and I don’t see that changing fast enough to allow me to run the kind of campaign I want to.”

The announcement comes days before campaign finance reports are due Monday.

Mayor Ethan Strimling announced Wednesday that he has raised $102,000 since November, while City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau said he’s raised nearly $60,000 since January and former school board member Kate Snyder said she’s raised $45,000 since late March.

City Councilor Belinda Ray also was planning to run for mayor, but she dropped out last month.

Costa encouraged his supporters to vote for either Thibodeau or Snyder.

“I have worked with each of them for years,” Costa said. “Whatever differences we may have are more like a family squabble than anything else. Both are honest people who know how to work with others and either would be a huge improvement over our current mayor.”

“Sorry to see Councilor Costa drop out,” Strimling said in a written statement. “Although he voted against Paid Sick Leave for Portland workers, he did recently join me in standing up to those who are trying push our homeless to the outskirts of town. I look forward to continuing my conversations with Portland voters about all we have accomplished in the last four years including property tax relief for seniors, livable wages for workers, the 4-school bond, and the building of desperately needed affordable housing.”

Candidates for mayor do not have to file nominating petitions until Aug. 26, so it’s not known how many candidates will be on the ballot in November.

This will be the city’s third mayoral race since switching from a ceremonial mayor, who was appointed annually by the council, to a popularly elected mayor, who serves a four-year term, as opposed to three-year terms for councilors. The first mayoral election in 2011 drew 15 candidates.

The mayor’s position is decided by a citywide vote using ranked-choice voting and instant runoff tabulations until someone wins more than 50 percent of the vote.

The mayor earns a full-time salary – $74,000 in 2018 – but does not have any executive control over city operations, which are overseen by the city manager.

This story was updated to include a response from Mayor Strimling.

 

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