City Councilor Mark Dion announced Thursday that he is running for mayor of Portland. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Portland City Councilor Mark Dion announced Thursday he is running for mayor.

Dion is the second city councilor, and the third announced candidate, seeking to take over for Mayor Kate Snyder, who has said she won’t seek reelection in November.

“I think it’s important the city has steady and reliable leadership because of some of the challenges we’re facing,” said Dion, 68. “I’ve spent three years on the council and I think I have a good handle on the finances and the consequences that flow from asking taxpayers to pay for what’s going on.”

Dion is the councilor for District 5, which includes the North Deering, Deering Center and Riverton neighborhoods.

He chairs the council’s finance committee and works in private practice law, specializing in criminal defense and cannabis issues. He previously was a Portland police officer, Cumberland County sheriff, a state representative and a state senator.

Dion said working with the state is critical to Portland’s future success and that he has already built relationships to facilitate that work.


“I will arrive in Augusta – when I’m responsible for advocating for the city – as a known person with established relationships with leadership,” he said.

Dion said his priorities as mayor would include affordable housing, addressing the influx of asylum seekers and ensuring that residents feel safe, and that they have a government that represents their best interests.

“One thing I’ve learned as a city councilor, and that wasn’t different in Augusta, is that if the people we’re making decisions for don’t feel that they have an ability to participate in the process and that the answers reflect their contributions, then we have a problem,” he said.

District 4 City Councilor Andrew Zarro announced in May that he is also running for mayor.

“Mark is a friend,” Zarro said in a statement Thursday. “I have enjoyed working with him on the City Council for the last few years. I respect his leadership, and I look forward to a positive race.”

Both would be up for reelection on the council but are deciding instead to run for mayor.


Dylan Pugh, a software developer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute who has not held elected office, also launched a campaign in April.

“I respect the work Andrew Zarro and Mark Dion have done on the council and I want to see them keep doing that,” Pugh said. “But I think we need to bring in someone who thinks differently and will see solutions that maybe people already involved in the process have missed. Getting that fresh perspective is the reason I’m running.”

Candidates for mayor and City Council don’t run on party affiliations in Portland, but all three are Democrats.

Both Zarro and Pugh have filed paperwork to run as clean elections candidates under the program voters approved creating in November.

Dion said he doesn’t plan to use the program because he is opposed to some aspects of how it is set up.

Under the current rules, candidates can qualify for clean elections money before they’re officially on the ballot. Mayoral candidates are eligible for up to $100,000.

“I don’t have an objection to municipalities having clean elections funding available, but given all the demands placed on our revenue – legitimate demands – I can’t in good conscience say $100,000 per candidate,” Dion said.

Candidates can start taking out qualifying papers for mayor, City Council and school board races Friday. In addition to the mayor’s office, three council seats are up for election this fall – Zarro’s District 4 seat, Dion’s District 5 seat and the at-large seat held by April Fournier.

Fournier has filed clean elections paperwork to run for reelection and Kathryn Sykes has filed clean elections paperwork for the District 5 seat. No one has filed clean elections paperwork in District 4.

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