Andrew Zarro, outside his home Tuesday, has announced his bid for Portland mayor. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Portland City Councilor Andrew Zarro announced Tuesday he is running for mayor.

Zarro, 34, said he has been considering a run since Mayor Kate Snyder announced last fall that she wouldn’t seek reelection. The District 4 councilor is nearing the end of his first term on the council after being elected in 2020.

“I am running for mayor because I love this city deeply and I am ready to work with you to build a stronger and more sustainable Portland, to address the many challenges that we face as a community, and to meet this moment,” Zarro told supporters in a speech kicking off his campaign at Woodford F&B in Woodfords Corner.

Zarro appears to be the second person in the city to announce a run for mayor. Dylan Pugh, a software developer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, launched a campaign in April, though it’s still too early for candidates to officially make the ballot. Mayoral candidates don’t run on a party affiliation, but both are Democrats.

Dylan Pugh, a software developer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, is running for Portland mayor. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Zarro, who works as a program manager at the nonprofit StartOut and owned the former Little Woodfords coffee shop, is chair of the council’s Sustainability & Transportation Committee. He said that if elected he will continue to be passionate about climate change and related issues.

“I will invest in renewable energy, promoting energy efficiency, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and protecting our natural resources,” Zarro said. “We have moved the needle on this important work, and we must continue to forge ahead under bold leadership.”


He said affordable housing and providing support for homeless people, infrastructure investments, economic development, and working on partnerships with the state would also be priorities.

In an interview following his announcement Tuesday, Zarro said he’s enjoyed working with the other councilors and city staff, and has accomplished a lot in his short time on the council, including working on the state’s first municipal mask mandate during the pandemic and securing funding for the second phase of the city’s Electrify Everything! program.

“I’m really excited to talk to people and listen to them about what matters to them,” Zarro said.

Nomination papers for mayor, city council and school board are not available until June 30 and must be returned between Aug. 14 and Aug. 28. Candidates who intend to raise and spend campaign funds before June 30 may do so provided they register with the city.

City Clerk Ashley Rand said Tuesday her office has received only one registration form to date, from Pugh.

Pugh, 33, said he decided to run because he is particularly concerned about affordable housing and homelessness. “As someone who came to Portland when it was more affordable as a renter and is now a landlord, I see it getting out of hand and I want to see us take other steps to address it,” he said.


Pugh has not held elected office before but said he could bring a fresh perspective to City Hall. “What’s important to me about being mayor is the chance to articulate a sense of vision and moral leadership for the city,” he said.

“I think that’s something that, based on my background, I could step into well. When Kate Snyder announced she wasn’t running, I felt like there was a need and that it was something I could step into.”

Snyder, a former school board chair and executive director of an educational nonprofit, was elected mayor in 2019.

Portland Mayor Kate Snyder has decided not to seek reelection in 2023. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

She announced in September that she wouldn’t seek reelection, saying then that she wanted voters to be clear on her intentions as they faced a referendum question from the Charter Commission that proposed significant changes to the mayor’s job. The question failed with about 65% of voters rejecting it.

Snyder said Tuesday that she has not changed her mind.

In 2019, she announced her candidacy in late March, making her the fourth person at the time to enter the race.


This year’s race has been slower to get off the ground. Snyder said she thought that might be because candidates wanted to see how the city’s new clean elections program would take shape. The rules of the program were approved by the council last week.

“Other than that, I don’t know what other factors would make this year a later year than past elections,” Snyder said.

Zarro said he plans to run as a clean elections candidate and it was one reason he waited to launch his campaign. Pugh said he also plans to use the program and although he has filed a registration with the city, he has not yet raised any funds.

The city clerk’s office is setting up the paperwork for the clean elections program. Those who wish to get financing will not be able to sign a declaration of intent until June 1, per the ordinance that was adopted last week, and will also have to wait until after June 1 to start collecting money.

Candidates who wish to run for office using traditional financing can file candidate registration forms and begin fundraising now, City Clerk Ashley Rand said in an email.

But in both cases, candidates will still have to go through the petition process to qualify for the ballot.

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