Andrew Graham accepts at least some of the blame for Portland’s popularity and gentrification.

As the founding president of Creative Portland, Graham said the nonprofit aimed to create economic development to support local artists. He said they helped shift the focus from trying to attract businesses to trying to attract people.

Andrew Graham Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“It was our opinion that if you bring people here, the businesses will follow and that, in fact, proved to be true,” he said. “The unintended consequence, of course, is we helped Portland become as popular as it is and the artist community was driven out by the increasing cost of rents.”

After years of running businesses and raising kids, Graham said he now has time to serve on the City Council and hopes to help the city address challenges of housing and affordability.

Regarding housing, he’d like Portland to follow South Portland’s lead and ban unhosted, or non-owner-occupied, short-term rentals like those advertised on Airbnb. He would also like to see the city change zoning along heavy traffic corridors to accommodate more affordable housing. And, he said, he wants to reform the planning process to make it easier to build and subsidize affordable housing because the economics of real estate don’t work for private developers who want to build such projects.

Portland also should look to make better transit connections to other communities, according to Graham.


“The other thing I’m interested in is the idea that Lewiston and Biddeford could become our middle-class bedroom communities by providing high-speed rail service between them,” he said. “It may be a fact that the neighborhoods of Portland, and certainly the peninsula of Portland, can’t absorb the need for housing.”

Graham said that he would use data, as well as community input, in making decisions. The city doesn’t look back at past decisions often enough to determine if it achieved the desired outcome, he said.

“The future may see the solution much differently than we see it currently,” he said.

The city needs to band together with other communities that provide regional opportunities and services to advocate at the state level for help with more funding for education and services for the homeless. Like others in the race, he supports creating a local option sales tax that would allow Portland to raise more revenue from people who visit the city.

Locally, Graham said the city needs to re-evaluate how many school buildings it has in order to increase the quality of its public education.

“We need to consolidate schools in order to reduce our overall costs, and that will be a big problem for many people,” he said. “In order to support quality education – and I value quality over quantity – I think it will be necessary.”

Graham’s campaign materials say that he’ll improve snow removal services, fix and maintain roads parks and sidewalks, and “be a voice for ordinary people in City Hall.”

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