Five candidates are running for two at-large seats on the South Portland City Council.

Longtime councilor Maxine Beecher is not running again. Except for a year off in 2013, Beecher has served on the council since 2003.

Candidates in the Nov. 5 election include incumbent Sue Henderson and challengers Margaret Brownlee, Katelyn Bruzgo, Richard Carter and Mary Drymon DeRose.

Sue Henderson has been on the council for two years and said she is deeply committed to the community.

She said the strongest need lies in managing environmental policy because it encompasses other issues such as housing, traffic and economic development. She also hopes to continue advocating for middle- and lower-class individuals in the community through her involvement in affordable housing policies.

Henderson said she also hopes to continue advocating for pedestrian-friendly roads and walkways, noting that the city has a huge issue with hurried and distracted drivers. As a retired nurse, she said, she has time to dedicate to the council and tries her best to hear both sides of an issue before making a decision.

“I have the energy and health to do another term and I have a broad base of experience and knowledge to bring to the issues,” she said. “I think that it would be good for the council to have someone who’s had one term like me.”

Margaret Brownlee said she is running because she wants to get more involved in the community. While she doesn’t have any experience working in local government, she’s completing the training program Emerge Maine, which recruits, trains and provides networks for Democratic women who want to run for office.

She said the biggest issue facing South Portland is air quality concerns, because it spans beyond city limits, and said climate change and affordable housing also are important issues.

She hopes to advocate for the creation of welcoming and inclusive spaces by supporting a comprehensive plan for green space in the city. As a woman of color who is part of the LGBTQ community, Brownless said, she can offer a fresh perspective on many issues facing the city.

“I’m hopefully encouraging other women to try it out and get involved,” she said. “We think big politicians are the ones that have to run for office but anyone passionate can be a part of that process.”

Katelyn Bruzgo said she is running because she believes her financial background could be an asset to the community. While she doesn’t have any political experience, Bruzgo said her work as the owner of Omi’s coffee shop on Cottage Road gives her a good vantage point.

“I’ve met with and connected with a lot of people in the community and I’ve learned a lot about how that works and what people want changed in the city,” she said.

She said the city faces an affordable housing shortage. She hopes to advocate for a clean and healthy environment, too, saying petroleum facilities such as Global and Sprague should be held accountable.

“I’m a very passionate hardworking person. I care about people a lot,” she said. “I want to make myself as highly accessible to people as possible. I want to be a true representative of the people.”

Richard Carter, who served on the school board from 2004 to 2016 and was chairman four times, said he is running because he thinks it’s important to give back to the community.

He said the biggest issue facing South Portland is the $68 million middle school project, because it will impact the schools, traffic and the local economy. He has been a huge supporter of the project because he believes it will create an excellent learning environment for kids.

Carter also said the strongest need lies in “bread and butter” issues, such as roads and sidewalks, plowing and pedestrian safety. He also noted that, regardless of a person’s political affiliation, he considers all opinions to make an informed decision.

“Too many times in government the tone has gotten nasty, and that will never be the case for me,” he said. “You’re not going to please everyone, but everyone needs to feel their voice has been heard.”

Mary Drymon DeRose said she has a wealth of experience with city policy and hopes to use that knowledge as a council member.

With a doctoral degree in public policy, DeRose said she hopes to advocate for the working homeless population in the city, which she says many people don’t even know is a problem. She spent five years studying the city as part of her dissertation about how public policy shaped landscape, she said, which gives her an in-depth knowledge of the city others may not have.

“I think that what I would bring is a ‘west end’ perspective … There are not currently any market-rate renters on the council, and we are a fairly large part of the population,” she said.

She said that a living wage is important to residents, too, and it needs to adjust in order to keep up with the rising cost of living. As a strong believer in economic justice, she said she would work hard to implement policies advocating for more affordable housing in the city.


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