PORTLAND — After six years of being represented by Justin Costa, District 4 will get a new City Council representative this November.

Voters in East Deering and much of the area between Stevens and Allen avenues, Woodford Street and Baxter Boulevard will decide Nov. 3 whether they want to be represented by Rosemary Mahoney or Andrew Zarro, both of whom vow to bring a new perspective to the council.

Costa is not seeking another term as a district councilor, instead running for the at-large seat longtime Councilor Jill Duson is vacating.

Mahoney, unsuccessful in her race against Costa in 2014, is mounting another run to give back to her community, she said.

“I am a problem solver. I am really good at looking at things from the outside in and often times finding that simple fix,” she said.

Zarro, making his first run for public office, wants the younger generation to have more representation on the City Council and says he wants to advocate for small businesses and the LGBTQ community.

His biggest concern, he said, is how the city is going to address climate change.

“It is maybe the greatest issue we have ever faced. I have a lot of ideas and passion for what we can do, and the good news is we can do a lot at the municipal level,” Zarro said.

That starts, he said, with figuring out how to implement One Climate, One Future, a joint venture between the Portland and South Portland sustainability offices, and envisioning what Portland will look like in five, 10 or 15 years.

“The luxury of talking about this is past. We don’t have any more time,” Zarro said.

In the near term, the city should institute a curbside compost collection program, reduce city-wide food waste, ban plastics and provide more funding and resources to the sustainability office, whose work “should be woven within the work of every other department,” Zarro said.

Longer-term goals, he said, include becoming a carbon-neutral city and introducing more public transit options.

Increasing public transportation in the city is important to Mahoney, too, she said. Easing traffic congestion, she said, is an issue for many residents in her area of the city.

“Better public transportation would help, but also satellite parking lots and transportation into Portland. You see that a lot in other areas,” she said.

The candidates also agree that housing affordability remains a big issue for District 4 residents.

“We need to have more affordable housing to have working families continue to be able to live and work in Portland,” Mahoney said. “It is getting out of reach.”

Zarro said he would like to help aging residents afford to stay in their homes. The district, he said, is home to many young families, but a quarter of residents are over the age of 65, some living in the same home for 30 or 40 years or more.

To make housing more affordable and to protect renters city-wide, Zarro said, the City Council may have to look at incentives for landlords to cap rent increases.

“We need creative ideas and not be afraid to try them and really listen to the constituents,” he said.

Mahoney said that if elected she would said take direction from those she talks to in her district.

“The thing I am hearing from voters  most about is the homeless issue. What we have been doing for the last 20 to 30 years is not working. We see the problem get worse and it is because Portland is being a receivership grounds for other communities in Maine and the northeast region,” she said.

It is time, she said, to begin looking at things differently and get the state more involved.


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