SOUTH PORTLAND — Five candidates are running for two at-large seats on the City Council.

Longtime councilor Maxine Beecher is not running again. Except for a year off in 2013, Beecher has served on the council since 2003.

Candidates include incumbent Sue Henderson and challengers Margaret Brownlee, Katelyn Bruzgo, Richard Carter and Mary Drymon DeRose.

On Nov. 5, Voters in District 1 in South Portland will be casting their ballots at the Boys and Girls Club at 169 Broadway. District 2 residents will vote at American Legion Stewart P. Morrill Post #35 at 413 Broadway. District 3 and 4 voters will cast ballots at the South Portland Community Center on Nelson Road and District 5 residents will visit Redbank Community Center on Macarthur Circle West.

Sue Henderson

Henderson said she is running for re-election because she loves the work and has a passion for it. As a two-year member of the council and also serving on several other city committees, Henderson said she is deeply committed to the community.

She said the strongest need lies in managing environmental policy because it encompasses other issues such as housing, traffic and economic development. She also hopes to continue advocating for middle and lower-class individuals in the community through her involvement in affordable housing policies.

Henderson said she also hopes to continue advocating for pedestrian-friendly roads and walkways, noting that the city has a huge issue with hurried and distracted drivers. She said voters should support her because as a retired nurse, she has a lot of time to dedicate and tries her best to hear both sides of an issue before making a decision.

“I have the energy and health to do another term and I have a broad base of experience and knowledge to bring to the issues,” she said. “To value collaboration is a strength too, in the concept of ‘doing no harm.’ I think that it would be good for the council to have someone who’s had one term like me.”

Margaret Brownlee

Brownlee said she is running because she wants to get more involved in the community. While she doesn’t have any experience working in local government, she’s completing the training program Emerge Maine, which recruits, trains and provides networks for Democratic women who want to run for office.

She said the biggest issue facing South Portland is air quality concerns, because it spans farther than just city limits. Tackling climate change too, she said, is integral, and another big issue facing the city is affordable housing.

She hopes to advocate for the creation of welcoming and inclusive spaces by supporting an open space comprehensive plan for green space in the city. As a woman of color that is part of the LGBTQ community, Brownless said she can offer a fresh perspective on many issues facing the city.

“I’m hopefully encouraging other women to try it out and get involved,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to be more involved in the community and this is one avenue in getting involved. We think big politicians are the ones that have to run for office but anyone passionate can be a part of that process.”

Katelyn Bruzgo

Bruzgo said she is running because she believes her financial background could be an asset to the community. While she doesn’t have any political experience, Bruzgo said her work as the owner of Omi’s coffee shop on Cottage Road gives her a good vantage point.

“I’ve met with and connected with a lot of people in the community and I’ve learned a lot about how that works and what people want changed in the city,” she said. “It’s important to have a lot of diversity in politics – not only diversity for women, the LGBTQ community and people of color, but also diversity in age and educational backgrounds.”

She said the city faces a huge issue of affordable housing. She hopes to advocate for a clean and healthy environment too, saying petroleum facilities like Global and Sprague should be held accountable.

“I’m a very passionate hardworking person; I care about people a lot,” she said. “I want to make myself as highly accessible to people as possible. I want to be a true representative of the people.”

Richard Carter

Carter said he is running because he thinks it’s important to give back to the community. After serving on the school board from 2004-2016 and serving as chairman four times, he said he’s ready to continue collaborating on policies to ensure the success of the city.

He said the biggest issue facing South Portland is the $68 million middle school project, because it will impact the schools, traffic and the local economy. He has been a huge supporter of the project because he believes it will create an excellent learning environment for kids.

Carter also said the strongest need lies in the “bread and butter” issues of the city, such as roads and sidewalks, plowing and pedestrian safety. He also noted that, regardless of a person’s political affiliation, he considers all opinions to make an informed decision.

“Too many times in government the tone has gotten nasty, and that will never be the case for me,” he said. “You’re not going to please everyone, but everyone needs to feel their voice has been heard. They may not agree with the final decision but they don’t feel left out of that process.”

Mary Drymon DeRose

DeRose decided to run for council after hearing about allegations that Global has emitted high amounts of volatile organic compounds in the air. As a member of the Planning Board since 2017, DeRose said she has a wealth of experience about city policy and hopes to utilize that knowledge to serve the city as a council member.

With a Ph.D in public policy, DeRose said she hopes to advocate for the working homeless population in the city, which she says many people don’t know is even a problem. She spent five years studying the city as part of her dissertation about how public policy shaped landscape, she said, which gives her an in-depth knowledge of the city others may not have.

“I think that what I would bring is a ‘west end’ perspective … There are not currently any market-rate renters on the council, and we are a fairly large part of the population,” she said.

She said that a living wage is important to residents too, and it needs to adjust in order to accommodate the rising cost of living. As a strong believer in economic justice, she said she would work hard to implement policies advocating for more affordable housing in the city.

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