A commercial real estate agent and the developer planning to build the city’s 208-bed homeless services center in Riverton have each contributed at least $20,000 to a new ballot question committee urging voters to support Option C on Portland’s ballot.

Residents are being asked to choose among three options for limiting the size and locations for new shelters, as well as tweaking other shelter rules. Option A would limit the size of most new shelters to 50 beds; Option B would limit the size to 150 beds, while also limiting how many shelters can be built near each other; and Option C is for none of the above, which would maintain existing rules and allow the city’s shelter proposal to move forward.

The referendums come in response to the city’s plan to replace the Oxford Street Shelter in Bayside. The homeless services center in Riverton would include beds rather than thin floor mats, a medical clinic, a soup kitchen and a day space for guests. City officials say having all those support services in one location will make it easier to get people housed and employed, but opponents say the shelter would be too big and too far from services downtown.

The Portland Cares – Vote C committee was formed Oct. 14 by Drew Sigfridson, a senior manager at the Boulos Co., and Kevin Bunker, a principal of the Portland-based Developers Collaborative. It was established about a week after an attorney representing backers of the smaller shelters referendum laid out a legal argument for why the referendum could stop or alter plans for the city’s homeless services center.

Sigfridson, who with Bunker is working on the city shelter project, said the attorney’s letter did not factor into the decision to create a campaign committee. He said his group was formed to help clear up confusion over the three-part local referendum and to provide a counter argument to Smaller Shelters for Portland, the group behind Option A.

Through Oct. 11, the Portland Cares group had raised $40,000 – dwarfing the nearly $5,000 raised by Smaller Shelters for Portland. Portland Cares has spent about $600 on campaign signs and paid nearly $17,800 to take out a full-page color ad in the Maine Sunday Telegram.

“The city can’t advocate for this project really,” Sigfridson said. “We just feel like this issue is so important but it’s confusing also. People just need to read about it more and understand it more. We felt this was the best way to get that word out.”

The latest round of campaign spending, covering Sept. 15 to Oct. 19, was detailed in an 11-day, pre-election finance report filed Friday at City Hall.

Damon Yakovleff, the treasurer for Smaller Shelters for Portland, said he is unsure if the late infusion of money into the race will sway voters. He said proponents of Option A have been running a grassroots campaign since August, partnering with City Council candidates who support the measure. Option A also has been endorsed by city committees representing Democrats, Republican and Green Independents, he said, as well as activist groups like Progressive Portland and the Maine People’s Housing Coalition.

“I am optimistic we are getting our message out,” said Yakovleff, adding that his group has put up 1,000 signs and dropped thousands of leaflets. “It’s hard to say how it’s going to break. I don’t know if the money they’re putting in will have a large effect or not.”

COUNCIL RACES

Campaign spending from Sept. 15 to Oct. 19 was also disclosed in races for three City Council seats, none of which have an incumbent seeking re-election.

Brandon Mazer, an attorney and Planning Board chairman, continued to have the fundraising advantage in the four-way race for an at-large seat. Mazer has raised about $30,650, including $20,775 this period from local business owners and other professionals such as attorneys, developers and property managers. He spent $22,416 this period, including $10,000 on direct mailers, $5,354 on postage and $4,250 on Facebook ads. He had $5,707 remaining heading into the closing days.

Stuart Tisdale Jr., an attorney and retired teacher, has raised $12,320, including $8,000 during this period, from retirees, businesses owners, executives and educators. This period, he spent $1,130, mostly on signs and postage. He had $9,400 remaining.

Travis Curran, a server and retail manager at Maine Craft Distilling who ran for mayor in 2019, has raised $7,600, including $2,237 in the most recent period. He has $4,250 remaining.

And Roberto Rodriguez, a school board member and owner of an urban farming business, has raised $7,010, including $3,390 this period. He has $6,206 remaining.

In District 1, Sarah Michneiwicz, a self-employed seamstress and president of the Bayside Neighborhood Association, has raised $13,565, including $9,065 this period, much of it from property managers and developers. She spent $2,850 on mailers this period and has $4,500 remaining. Anna Trevorrow, a paralegal and current school board member, has raised $7,790, including $3,065 this period from a range of professionals, including educators. She spent nearly $3,200 on mailers this period and another $1,100 on literature. She has $2,664 remaining.

In District 2, Jon Hinck, an attorney and former city councilor and state legislator, has raised $13,045, including $7,930 this period. He has $4,218 remaining. And Victoria Pelletier, a special projects coordinator at the Greater Portland Council of Governments, has raised $6,865, including $3,885 this period. She raised about $2,065 from people giving $50 dollars or less and had $4,818 remaining.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.