Edward Suslovic has been voted out of office nearly as much as he’s been voted into office.

He became a state representative in 2002, only to lose his re-election bid. He was elected as an at large Portland city councilor in 2005, but was unseated the next election. He rejoined the council in 2010 as the District 3 representative and won his first re-election campaign in 2013, only to be unseated three years later by political newcomer Brian Batson, who is not seeking re-election.

Edward Suslovic Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

After losing in 2016, Suslovic thought he was through with elected office, though he remained active in the community. But then the city announced its plan to build a 200-person homeless shelter at Nason’s Corner and people began reaching out for help. After that proposal was withdrawn, other neighborhoods eyed for the shelter also reached out to him for help. And, he said, people began asking him if he’d considering running again.

Suslovic said he has learned a lot over the last three years and if elected he would be a new kind of councilor. Or, as he puts it, “Ed 2.0.”

“It’s given me new insight into public process and into meaningful public engagement,” Suslovic said of his time off the council. “I also think that running for office and losing, if you approach it the right way, it’s both humbling and a great learning opportunity.”

Suslovic said his experience as a community development consultant would benefit the current council. He noted that the city was able to pass several controversial proposals because of task forces and working groups that he helped lead, including efforts to assess a fee on disposable bags and a new stormwater fee to help pay for sewer and stormwater upgrades being mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

He has remained involved in regional planning initiatives, including serving on the board of Metro, which recently expanded bus service to the University of Southern Maine in Gorham and other routes north of Portland, and at the Greater Portland Greater Council of Governments, where he serves on the regional prosperity and regional voice committees.

He said the city needs to reach out to neighborhood groups and let them tell it what type of growth they will accept. Then, the city should take proactive steps to rezone certain areas to accommodate that type of growth and offer additional height or density allowances for developments for affordable housing.

“We might find the solution in Libbytown is not the same as it is in North Deering,” he said. “If you do this right, it really lessens the (not-in-my-backyard) knee-jerk reaction.”

During his last term, Suslovic earned the ire of the Fire Department by arguing that it was overstaffed based on per-capita comparisons with other communities. Firefighters argued that analysis does not take into account the fact that Portland must provide coverage to the islands and the airport, and provides advanced EMS services.

When asked if he would continue to look at the department’s staff, Suslovic said that he wouldn’t single out any one department. And he defended his use of per-capita staff comparisons.

“I have a track record of asking tough questions,” he said. “Just because I ask a question, it doesn’t mean I’m anti-fill-in-the-blank. I ask tough questions about the Metro budget. It doesn’t mean I’m anti-transit. I think that as elected officials that’s probably one of the biggest parts of our job.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.