Four candidates are competing for two at-large South Portland City Council seats: Richard Matthews, Steven Silver, Brendan K. Williams, and Natalie West. Former at-large councilor Katie Bruzgo resigned this year and current at-large councilor Susan Henderson did not seek re-election. Both seats are for three-year terms.

Richard Matthews, 56, is married with three children. A former South Portland business owner, he has spent 12 years on the South Portland School Board, seven of those as the chair. He has spent one year on the Civil Service Commission, 10 years on the South Portland Little League board, three years on the CMA swim board, and five years in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Richard Matthews

Matthews mentioned how diversity can be used as a strength for South Portland in the face of concerns such as housing costs and property taxes. “Our diversity and our differences are our strength,” said Matthews. “When people have different perspectives, it can be a challenge to reach consensus, but when we put the effort in to make everyone heard, that’s where some of the best ideas come from. We need to listen to each other and work together respectfully if we want to make a real dent in the rising cost of housing and come up with budget priorities, so property taxes don’t go through the roof. If the people who make this city run – the teachers, firefighters, police officers, etc. can’t afford to live here then that is not healthy for our community and is a big warning sign.”

Matthews said, “I’ve been on the school board and served as chair for many years, I know what it takes to bring people together and build consensus around a budget and work through sensitive issues.” He pointed out that “most people don’t realize the school budget is 65 percent of the city budget. There are certain investments we need to make, but we need to prioritize because we simply can’t say yes to everything. I will always prioritize our people. I’m on the Civil Service Commission that hires police officers and firefighters, I know how important it is to have the right people in these positions and to make sure they have the support they need so South Portland can thrive.”

Steven Silver, 36, is married with twin 1-year-old boys. He lives in South Portland and works as an employment lawyer at Littler Mendelson. He has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern and a J.D. from Temple University. He served as the chair of the Maine Gambling Board (2020 to present), served on the Maine State Board of Property Tax Review (2018-2020), and the Portland Board of Assessment Review (2017-2018).

Steven Silver

“Housing is the biggest challenge,” facing the South Portland community, Silver said. “We are short thousands of units to meet demand. Yet we stifle development with bureaucratic red tape and ill-advised sweeping mandates. Every dollar added to building costs is passed to renters and buyers, making our community less affordable.”


Silver expanded on related financial issues. “A related challenge is the ongoing humanitarian and fiscal crisis at our hotels,” he said. “I’m the grandson of immigrants, and I’m proud that South Portland is stepping up to welcome new Mainers and shelter unhoused people. But we need a long-term financial plan.”

“To quote Mayor Dhalac’s letter to Gov. Mills a few weeks ago, South Portland is barreling toward ‘financial ruin,’ with taxpayers potentially on the hook for $1.3 million per month. That will result in a minimum 21 percent property tax increase,” Silver said. “We need to be knocking on doors of neighboring communities to contribute. We need to explore grant opportunities and lobby state and federal government to help us. South Portland can’t do it alone.

“Being a parent and a lawyer gives me daily experience in solving tough problems and negotiating resolutions to disputes with minimal tears. In all seriousness, I’m running to make sure city council focuses every waking second on addressing real problems like housing, infrastructure, and the budget instead of focusing on who throws a tennis ball on the beach. I’m running to make sure that my neighbors – many of whom are on fixed incomes and dealing with the worst inflation in decades – don’t have to shell out more tax money because city council did not budget properly. I’m committed to transparency, accountability, and common sense. If you want immediate, practical solutions from someone who is not afraid to make hard decisions or voice a dissenting opinion, you’ll vote for me.”

Brendan K. Williams, 33, works at Scales Restaurant in South Portland and serves on two city committees.

Brendan K. Williams

The biggest challenge facing South Portland, Williams said, “is the desperate need for both affordable and low-come housing. As someone who lives paycheck to paycheck and works in the restaurant industry, it can be difficult for people who work in the food industry to find housing.

“I would like to look at our current zoning situation and see if we can build more housing and help homeowners convert part of their homes into a rental unit. I also support rent stabilization that will reduce displacement and I would look at ways to reduce property taxes, so homeowners can stay in the city and not be forced to move out.”


Williams on why he is the person for the job: “I believe I bring in two important factors that I believe city government must have. As someone who’s hearing impaired, I bring in that unique perspective of living in the city with a disability, but I’m also a hard-working restaurant employee. People who work in restaurants make up a major part of our workforce and I believe they must have a voice on the city council.”

Natalie West is married with two adult children, two adult stepchildren, and eight grandchildren. She is a retired city attorney. She has an undergraduate degree from Smith College and a law degree from the University of California Berkeley School of Law.

Natalie West

West discussed the priority of “making sure our schools have adequate resources to deal with an influx of students from different backgrounds, many of whom are non-native speakers. It might be useful to form a committee of two school board members and two city council members who meet periodically to discuss joint school district and city concerns, with particular emphasis on identifying ways to meet school district needs without increasing property taxes. I have used that approach successfully in another city.”

West also discussed the need “to expand housing opportunities that meet the needs of middle-class working people who cannot find places to live in our city. We need to identify land that can be made available for work-force housing and be proactive with property owners and developers to make it happen,” and to “facilitate projects that are in planning stages.”

West also talked about the use of energy and land. She mentioned, “trying to move beyond hydrocarbons, including encouraging the removal of crude oil storage tanks that have been empty for years and are located on land that could be used for other purposes. Portland Pipe Line is now owned by Suncor Energy. This change presents an opportunity for both South Portland and Suncor to work together, because, according to its website, Suncor ‘is committed to using its strengths and capabilities … to foster sustainable community development.?

West also has ideas Willard Beach. “We need to value and improve Willard Beach by developing a plan to change the way storm drains now dump polluted water on the beach every time it rains,” she said. “Before long, we will have a Willard Beach master plan that can help us move forward on this and other areas to improve resiliency and sustainability of our beach.”

West also discussed the need “to continue preparing a comprehensive plan update to guide our city for our next 15 years.  The process is underway, and I hope to serve as a council representative in this process.”

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