Julianne Opperman won the race to represent District 3 on the Portland school board after a ranked-choice runoff Wednesday morning.

Opperman finished with 54.7 percent of votes, unseating incumbent Adam Burk.

Pious Ali won another term as an at-large city councilor Tuesday, topping the field of candidates with more than 73% of votes cast in Portland.

Regina Phillips was elected to represent District 3 on the City Council with 66% of votes.

Challenging Ali were Richard Ward, 27, an unemployed activist and Aqeel Mohaildeen, 51, vice chair of the Maine GOP Multicultural Community Center.

With all precincts reporting, Ali received 22,184 votes. Ward finished with 5,070 votes and Mohaildeen received 2,218.


Ali, 53, is the director of the nonprofit Portland Empowered and has served on the council for six years, making him the longest-serving member. He served on the school board for three years before winning a council seat.

In the District 3 City Council race, Phillips, 60, ran against Nathaniel Ferguson, 23, to fill the seat of Tae Chong, who did not run for reelection. Phillips is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Cross Cultural Community Services. Prior to that she worked for the city of Portland for almost 20 years as a program manager for the Family Shelter and refugee services. Ferguson is a data analyst at Onpoint Health Data and a recent graduate of Colby College.

In a bid to win the District 3 school board seat, Opperman ran against Burk, 42, and Sam Rosenthal, 69. Burk was on the school board for three years. Opperman, 68, is a retired teacher. She taught at Greely High School in Cumberland for 40 years prior to retiring right before the pandemic. Opperman said one of the primary reasons she ran to join the school board was because there hadn’t been a teacher on the school board in many years and she felt that with her years of experience she would be able to bring the voice of classroom educators to the board. Rosenthal is a retired engineer.

Opperman won her seat in a ranked-choice instant runoff Wednesday morning.

In ranked-choice voting, unless one of the candidates gets more than 50 percent of the votes in the initial vote count, the city will conduct instant runoffs in which the last-place candidate is eliminated and that candidates’ votes are redistributed to their voters’ second choices. That process continues until a candidate has won more than 50 percent of the vote. In the first round of District 3 school board race counting no candidate had more than 50 percent of the vote.

District 3 comprises the southwest corner of Portland and includes Libbytown, Stroudwater, Nason’s Corner, Oakdale and part of Woodfords Corner.


Two at-large school board seats also were on the ballot. Incumbents Sarah Lentz and Ben Grant, who have been on the board since this summer, both ran unopposed.

The council races comes as the city is dealing with a severe housing shortage and affordability crisis.

Candidates in both the District 3 and at-large races said the lack of affordable housing was a top issue for them.

Ali said he supports adding more market-rate and affordable housing in the city, possibly some on undeveloped city-owned land. Mohaildeen said he thinks Portland has reached its occupancy limit – rather than building housing in Portland, the city should help build homes in nearby communities, he said.

Ward said he would work to relax building restrictions and incentivize companies to build more in Portland to increase the housing, and affordable housing stock.

District 3 candidate Phillips referred to the lack of housing as a crisis and said she wants to focus on providing safe and affordable housing to families.

Ferguson said the city should look at its housing code to try and figure out how to build more middle-density affordable housing.

The Portland Board of Education race comes amid a severe educator shortage and as educators struggle to help students recover from two years of pandemic-related learning loss and increased mental health challenges.

All three school board candidates said that if elected, they would work to make sure city educators are supported. Opperman, who was a teacher for 40 years before retiring, said that as a former educator she would bring the voice of the educator to the school board. Burk, who uses they and their as pronouns, said over their tenure that they have listened to educators and brought their concerns to the board and that they would continue to do so. Rosenthal said that if elected he would work to make sure teachers have a say in how the district is run and what is prioritized.

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