PORTLAND — Voters in District 5 have chosen a former sheriff and state legislator as their new city councilor representative and a first-timer to represent them on the school board.


Mark Dion emerged victorious in a four-way race against Ken Capron, John Coyne and Kathryn Sykes to replace Kimberly Cook on the city council. Dion captured 39% of the city vote, before prevailing in ranked-choice voting runoff, which was needed because he did not secure a majority of votes cast in the district, covering North Deering, Riverton and part of Deering Center.

Jeffrey Irish won a two-way race against Anthony Emerson by securing close to 53 percent of the vote.

Dion was attracted to the city council position to continue serving the Portland community on the local level after serving as a state representative from 2010-16 and state senator from 2016-18.

“I felt this was a good opportunity to return to public life and provide some seasoned, measured leadership to the City Council,” Dion said.

Dion said his focus would be maintaining basic city services, such as fire and police protection, emergency medical response and public works projects, for residents in District 5 and across the city. He would also work on “jump-starting our hospitality and small business industry.”

“Portland is a city of small neighborhoods and small businesses. It is great if we get that large business infusion, but I am concerned about the corner stores, the small coffee shops. Those entities need our support because their margins are so thin,” Dion said.

From a policy standpoint, Dion is concerned about the placement of a new homeless services center on Riverside Street. The issue of homelessness, he said, extends beyond Portland and requires a more collective approach.


Irish said he was particularly driven to run for the seat after seeing how the process to remove school resource officers from Deering and Portland high schools was handled. That process, he said, was “flawed” because a study was never done to really examine the pros and cons of having the officers in Portland schools.

Irish, a Portland Schools alumnus, said he supports the equity work as laid out by the Portland Promise and wants to see that work continue.

“I think the Portland Promise has done a lot of great work, particularly in terms of ensuring a whole community, stakeholder approach,” Irish said.

Irish said he doesn’t have any specific programs or initiatives he would look to introduce in the short term, in part due to the financial situation the district may find itself in for the next budget year.

“My biggest concern is what the budget will look like next year. Implementing (new things) at this point would be difficult,” Irish said.

This story was updated Nov. 6 to include official vote tallies.

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