Incumbent City Councilor Pious Ali won another at-large term Tuesday, taking more than 73 percent of the votes cast.

District 3 City Council candidate Regina Phillips, chief operating officer and co-founder of Cross Cultural Community Services and a former city of Portland employee of 19 years, also won her race by a significant margin, taking home 66 percent of the votes cast in her race.

In the race to represent District 3 on the Portland school board, Julianne Opperman prevailed with 55 percent of the vote, unseating incumbent Adam Burk.

Seventy-one percent of Portland’s registered voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s election.

Ali, 53, ran against Richard Ward, 27, an unemployed activist and Aqeel Mohaildeen, 51, vice chair of the Maine GOP Multicultural Community Center.

Phillips, 60, ran against Nathaniel Ferguson, 23, a data analyst at Onpoint Health Data and recent graduate of Colby College, to fill the seat of Tae Chong, who did not seek reelection.


In the District 3 school board race, Opperman, 68, ran against incumbent Adam Burk, 42, who was on the school board for three years and is a director at Intentional Philanthropy; and Sam Rosenthal, 69, a retired engineer. District 3 encompasses the southwest corner of the city and includes Libbytown, Stroudwater, Nason’s Corner, Oakdale and part of Woodfords Corner.

The council races came against the backdrop of a severe housing shortage and affordability crisis in Portland. Both winning council candidates said increasing the availability of safe and affordable housing in Portland is a top priority.

“I think housing is the number one challenge for Portland right now,” said Ali, who has served on the council for six years and before that was on the school board.

Ali said that after months of canvassing for the election, he’s ready to put all of his focus back toward solving the housing crisis and the other issues facing the city. Ali pointed to a 208-bed homeless shelter the city is expected to open in 2023 as a way Portland is already working to solve the housing crisis, but he said there is much more work to be done.

“We are hoping this will give us a bit of breathing space to think about long-term solutions,” said Ali of the shelter. Ali said he plans to work with the rest of the council to explore turning undeveloped city property into housing and altering the city’s zoning code to make it easier to build new developments.

Ali, who won almost three-quarters of Tuesday’s votes in his race, said he expected to win. “I was not surprised,” he said. “I’m humbled, but I knew I was going to win.”


Phillips, however, said she was shocked at how handily she won her race. She thinks her personal and professional experience helped convince voters to choose her to represent them on the council, she said. Phillips is a lifelong Portland resident and has been a social worker for 35 years. She has worked to address issues including homelessness, housing and education, among others.

Phillips said she’s ready to get to work. Like Ali, Phillips said she wants to increase affordable housing in the city by looking at zoning and city-owned property. Phillips also said the council should consider opening doors to create workforce housing.

Opperman said she was cautiously optimistic that she would come out on top in the District 3 school board race, but knew that running against an incumbent, someone with the name recognition she lacked, she was far from a shoo-in.

“I was hopeful that I would at least have a strong showing but I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be,” said Opperman Wednesday morning after she was named the winner.  

Opperman, a teacher for 40 years before retiring, campaigned on using her classroom experience to bring the voice of an educator to the school board. That notion resonated with many of the District 3 voters she spoke to when campaigning over the past few months, she said.

 “People told me they wanted to vote for me because I had been in the ranks for so many years so they thought I would understand how to include teachers and get them what they need,” said Opperman. 

Upon joining the board, Opperman said, she wants to organize meetings with Portland educators and bring their concerns and comments to the board as well as evaluate the needs of students and educators and provide the appropriate resources and structures to help them succeed.  

Two at-large school board seats were also on Tuesday’s ballot. Incumbents Sarah Lentz and Ben Grant, who joined the board this summer, both ran unopposed.

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