PORTLAND — More than five years removed from representing the residents of Portland on the school board, Kate Snyder is ready to get back into local government.

Snyder, executive director of the Foundation for Portland Public Schools, is one of four candidates looking to be elected Portland’s mayor at the Nov. 5 election. She is being challenged by Travis Curran, Spencer Thibodeau and incumbent mayor Ethan Strimling.

Snyder served on the School Committee in an at-large capacity from 2007 to 2013, including turns on the finance committee and as board chairman. It was during that tenure that the economy soured and the finances for the school department were taken over by the school committee.

“I have learned a lot about difficult budgets and how to get public confidence in responding to a difficult situation,” she said.

That experience, she said, will serve her well as mayor. Snyder, a resident of Kenwood Street, said she would make sure “Portland remains a liveable city and has all the things people are looking for: a strong school system, enough parking and good services.”

Snyder said while that is her vision for Portland, what really matters is finding a common vision rather than having visions that divide the community.

“People feel they need to take a side – you are against us or with us, you are a winner or a loser whatever the thing is,” she said.

One divisive issue confronting the city is homelessness.

“The truth is we don’t have enough housing. We need to be looking at a lot of housing needs: low-income, affordable housing, workforce housing. My sense is a ‘housing first’ model is a great approach to helping this vulnerable population,” she said.

Finding a solution for the homeless is not Portland’s issue to face alone, she said.

Snyder said the council should have had discussions regarding who the homeless shelter will serve, how it will operate and the scope of the project before the site on Riverside Street was selected.

“I wish the community could have had the opportunity to understand the delivery model or number of beds before the location was selected,” she said.

Snyder said she would like the city to adopt a local option sales tax to help make up for a lack of state funding for Portland schools. In 2004, a citizens referendum was passed requiring the state to fund 55 % of the cost of public K-12 education, a threshold that has never been met.

Snyder said although 55 % would increase funding for public education across the state, “Portland would still bear a significant portion of funding for local schools because of our property valuation is high, we’d likely stand to gain to some extent.”

“If we are not going to get more aid from the state, we have to get the state to allow us to do a local option sales tax,” she said, adding just 1% to the sales tax for purchases made in Portland would generate an additional $17 million a year. A similar increase to the tax on city lodging would generate $5 million.

Snyder would like to see the city get creative about how to offer more affordable housing, look into developing a senior center and continue to invest in public infrastructure and services. She also would like it to look into the possibility of offering satellite parking lots and more Greater Portland METRO service or light rail from Portland to Westbrook as solutions to the traffic congestion in the city.

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