Voters wait to cast their ballots at Deering High School Tuesday evening. Election Warden Barbara Harvey said the election went smoothly, even when the gymnasium had to be evacuated and ballots secured due to a fire alarm triggered by burning popcorn from the nearby school cafeteria. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

PORTLAND — It took all of Election Day in order to officially elect Portland’s next mayor.

Snyder

Just after midnight and following two rounds of a ranked-choice runoff, Kate Snyder officially defeated City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, incumbent Mayor Ethan Strimling and Travis Curran.

Snyder won each of the wards and the absentee voting and pulled in close to 39% of the vote, followed by Thibodeau with 28%, Strimling, 25%, and Curran, 7%. A ranked choice runoff was needed because no candidate initially received 50% of the vote. In total, close to 18,400 voters cast ballots in a 31.3% turnout.

Snyder is be Portland’s third popularly elected mayor since 2010 when voters decided to change the mayor position from a part-time post appointed by the council to a full-time one approved by voters. Strimling has held the position since 2015, but conceded to Snyder around 9 p.m. Tuesday. Thibodeau’s concession speech came an hour later.

Barbara Ginley was one of the 7,100 voters across the city who marked Snyder as their top choice. Exiting the polls Tuesday morning, she said it was Snyder’s experience with the Portland school system that make her stand out.

Snyder is the executive director of the Foundation for Portland Public Schools, an independent non-profit that works to raise private funding for the schools. She served on the School Committee in an At-large capacity from 2007 to 2013, including turns on the finance committee and as board chairman.

“It was a combination of her experience, her strength as a relationship builder and as someone who has private and public sector experience with schools,” Ginley said of her reasons for supporting Snyder.

Haley Kinner said she voted for Snyder because “her message just resonated with me.”

More than 18,000 voters across the city took part in Tuesday’s election where a number of council and board of education positions, as well as mayor were on the ballot. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

Earlier this fall, Snyder told The Forecaster she wanted to see the city get creative in offering more affordable housing, look into developing a senior center and continue to invest in public infrastructure and services. She also would like it to look into the possibility of offering satellite parking lots and more Greater Portland METRO service or light rail from Portland to Westbrook as solutions to traffic congestion in the city.

Her focus on finding ways to ease traffic congestion was something that Angus Rose found paramount.

“She’s got some good ideas about alternative transportation and getting rid of gridlock and that is important to me,” Rose said after casting his ballot at the Italian Heritage Center.

Many at the polls felt choosing a new mayor was a chance to end the divisiveness on the council and said they chose an individual who could better bring the council together.

“I was looking for some change,” said Sarah Kimball, a Snyder supporter. “I like how she seems to be open to working with the City Council in a different way. There seems to be a lot of contention with the council now.”

David Turner, one of the 4,563 voters who supported Strimling, said the current mayor is the right person for the job and supported him in his pursuit of another term.

“I support Strimling because of his down to Earth approach to the job and the people he comes into contact with,” Turner said. “I’ve seen him out on the streets on his moped. He is just a regular guy like us.”

Josh Moss said his top choice was Thibodeau, who earned the support of 5,096 voters across the city.

“His questions at City Council meetings are thoughtful, and he is building a Portland for everyone. I feel like Strimling’s vision is for the very rich and the poorest of the poor and that leaves behind the middle class,” Moss said.

Thibodeau, who attended city schools from K-8, said he sought 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 voted for Spencer because I really like him. He is what we are looking for. He has a hometown feel,” said Ward 1 voter Kathryn Lake.

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