Courtesy photo

PORTLAND — Since 2015, Spencer Thibodeau has been sitting three seats away from Mayor Ethan Strimling in the City Council Chambers, but come November he hopes he will be the one sitting in Strimling’s chair.

Thibodeau represents District 2 on the City Council, but after four years he is ready to bring that experience to the role of mayor. Endorsed by five of his fellow councilors, he is running against restaurant worker Travis Curran, former School Board Chairman Kate Snyder and incumbent Mayor Ethan Strimling.  

 

He said he has a good working relationship with the city manager and other councilors and wants to “bring a different level of professionalism to the job.”

Thibodeau, who attended city schools from K-8, said his vision for his hometown is to make sure it is a place where people can afford to live, build a career and raise their families. He wants to see the city continue to grow in a way that supports residents young and old.

“I want us to be a welcoming place to anyone who wants to live or work here and be a place where people, if they want to, can age in place,” Thibodeau said Oct. 9 in the 10th floor conference room of Verrill Dana, where he works as an associate attorney.

Thibodeau said Portland is more divided now than when he ran for the council in 2015 and wants as mayor to change that.

“Even when there is good gain, it seems to be negated by dysfunction. One of my many goals for the mayor’s position is to make sure we are operating in good governance,” he said.

One issue that has divided the community is the council’s 5-4 decision in June to relocate the Oxford Street Shelter to a new facility on Riverside Street, despite vocal opposition. Thibodeau was one of the councilors to approve the site, a decision he still defends.

Choosing that site, he said, is just the first step in the relocation process.

“In order for us to get to a final design, a whole lot of things need to be done,” he said.

The new site will allow room for amenities not offered at the current space, such as health and substance abuse and counseling services, meals and a community policing presence, Thibodeau said.

“We could throw a lot of resources at (the Oxford Street facility), but I am not sure you fix the issues there,” he said.

While saying he will as mayor address city-wide issues relating to housing affordability, traffic congestion, parking, waterfront and economic development and municipal budgeting, another thing he wants to work on is expanding My Brother’s Keeper, an Obama-era mentoring program that former Mayor Michael Brennan brought to the city. The program pairs up young men of color with mentors in the community.

“Providing young people with mentors is really important for them to be able to get to their end goals,” he said.

Thibodeau said he would also like to close the digital communication divide by teaming up with Portland Public Library to lend Wi-Fi enabled laptops or tablets to students who have school-issued devices, but don’t have Wi-Fi at home.

He wants to make City Hall more inclusive for people. In that regard, Thibodeau would like to host a monthly family dinner on Sundays with speakers from the community.

“It would be something to bring people together in City Hall, but not related to the business we do here,” he said. “It is a good way for people to get to know each other. If you can’t break bread together, what can you do (together)?”

Among his other priorities are finding alternative funding sources to relieve the burden on taxpayers; fighting for more educational funding; shifting from plastics and fossil fuels; encouraging sustainable development; promoting alternative transportation sources and launching a 21st century workforce initiative.

Comments are not available on this story.