Andrew Volk literally got his first taste of Portland when he was a student at Colby College and traveled 76 miles south to eat at Fore Street restaurant.

The meal, a venison dish, was so savory that it left a lasting impression about the experience. After spending about five years in Portland, Oregon, after college and meeting his wife there, the couple moved here in search of a better work-life balance.

Andrew Volk Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Within a few years, Volk opened The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, a bar and restaurant in the Old Port, and a few years later added Little Giant, a bistro on the West End. He now oversees a staff of over 40 people and thinks that experience, as well as having two young children who will attend Portland Schools, makes him uniquely qualified to represent District 3.

“There’s not a single person on the council who operates a small business in the city of Portland and that, to me, that’s mind-boggling,” said Volk, who adds that he has progressive values, including support for raising the minimum wage and for the Affordable Care Act. His work also means he regularly interacts with councilors and City Hall staff.

Volk said affordability and sustainable growth should be the city’s top priorities. He said the city should focus more attention on off-peninsula neighbors and should begin discussions with area residents about what type of future development they would like to see. Early planning can help stem negative reactions to specific development proposals, which should take into account what’s best for the community and not only what is the most profitable for developers, he said.

“It’s been so frustrating and maddening to open the paper to see how people are spitting and yelling at each other, rather than saying, ‘How do we do this together?'” he said. “People don’t feel like they’re part of the process and they get angry.”

He said he’s open to the idea of requiring developers to deed-restrict affordable housing units in certain developments through the city’s Inclusionary Zoning ordinance, which requires new housing developments to include units affordable to middle-income families or pay a fee into a housing development fund.  He also supports increasing the city’s minimum wage, although he would not take a position on a $15-an-hour minimum floated Thursday by Mayor Ethan Strimling.

Volk said he also would like to see the city improve public transportation. He said he recently lost a valued dishwasher after the employee moved to Westbrook, because there was no bus service available for late-shift workers.

“We could strengthen that system in a way that people are excited to use it and it’s not an option of last resort,” he said.

He does not support the city’s decision to choose land in Riverton as the site of a new homeless shelter, but he’s not sure what can be done about it now. He said he would work with his colleagues on the council and with area service providers to make sure people are being taken care of, regardless of the location.

Volk, who is originally from Vermont, has been endorsed by the Portland firefighters union.


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