PORTLAND – As a member of the wait staff at Empire Chinese Kitchen, mayoral candidate Travis Curran is accustomed to serving hungry diners, but the Munjoy Hill resident wants to serve Portland in a different way.

“I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for the last 10 years … in every position you can imagine,” Curran said. “I know how to serve people. I am really good about determining what they want, what they need and how to deliver that.”

Curran, a resident of Emerson Street, is one of three candidates challenging incumbent Ethan Strimling, who is seeking a second term as mayor.

Curran is the only candidate without local government experience. That doesn’t phase him.

“I am a real fast learner and will gain the experience and I will bring as much as I can to the council,” he said.

Curran said his goal in pursuing the mayor’s position is simple: to represent all Portland residents.

“I want to represent the working class, but also be a voice for everyone in Portland,” he said.

If elected, Curran said he would work to help Portland grow in a way that does not change the character of what makes the city special.

“I think as we continue to grow we can maintain our spirit, but we need to be careful because things are getting more difficult,” he said.

Curran said that, had he been mayor this year, he would have opposed locating a new homeless shelter on Riverside Street, which he said is too far removed from downtown, where many of the services and job opportunities for shelter residents are. Curran, like Strimling, would rather see smaller shelters scattered around the city.

“We need to behave with a bit more compassion for them,” Currant said of the homeless population.

As mayor, Curran said he would make sure education and health services are properly funded and work to find alternative revenue streams to alleviate the burden on the taxpayer.

“As far as the city budget goes, I think we can increase revenue in the city with a local option sales tax, especially on the tourism-based businesses such as hotels or cruise ships,” he said.

Curran also wants to work with Greater Portland Metro to improve service, particularly by introducing late buses for those who work the second or third shifts.

“I love the Metro. It does great things, but it needs more help,” he said.

Other ways of easing the traffic congestion in the city, Curran said, could be to create a light commuter rail that brings people to and from off-peninsula locations and possibly abutting communities, making residential parking passes more feasible and privatizing fewer parking lots downtown.

His number one campaign promise, however, is to cap the number of Airbnb units in non-owner occupied buildings. Curran said many larger communities, such as Las Vegas, San Francisco and New York City have already successfully done so. Adopting such a system in Portland, he said, would free up units that could then be permanently rented, easing the housing crunch in the city.

 

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