Portland voters will choose from five candidates running for mayor this November.

The candidates include three city councilors, a former city councilor and a political newcomer. They are looking to fill the seat held by Mayor Kate Snyder, who is not seeking reelection after one four-year term.

All candidates for city races were required to hand in signatures to qualify for the ballot by the end of the day Monday. In addition to mayor, voters also will be deciding on three City Council and three school board seats on Nov. 7.

The candidates for mayor are: Pious Ali, Justin Costa, Mark Dion, Dylan Pugh and Andrew Zarro. Mayoral candidates don’t run on a party affiliation, but all are Democrats.

Ali was reelected to his third term on the council last fall. Dion and Zarro are also current councilors nearing the end of their first terms. Costa served on the council from 2014 to 2020, while Pugh is a political newcomer.

The race will be decided using ranked-choice voting. It comes as the city is grappling with an unprecedented number of homeless people, recent influxes of asylum seekers and an affordable housing crisis.


At least one debate will be held before the election. The Portland Public Library plans to host a debate on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at the downtown library’s Rines Auditorium. The library announced last week that the debate will feature all five candidates and be moderated by Herb Adams, a professor of history at Southern Maine Community College.

It will be recorded and made available on local access television stations and online.

The three council seats up for election are the at-large seat held by April Fournier, the District 4 seat held by Zarro and the District 5 seat held by Dion. Council terms are for three years.

Fournier, who was first elected in 2020, will face a challenge from William Linnell. Vying for Zarro’s District 4 seat are Anna Bullett and Robert Cady. Kathryn Sykes and Matthew Buonopane are seeking Dion’s District 5 seat.

School board terms also are three years. Usira Ali and Cody Austin Sims are running to fill the at-large seat held by Yusuf Yusuf, who did not take out papers for reelection. Fatuma Noor is running uncontested to fill the District 4 seat held by Aura Russell-Bedder, who also did not take out papers.

Sarah Brydon is running uncontested for reelection in District 5.


This is the first year of Portland’s new clean elections program, which provides municipal campaign funding to qualifying candidates who choose to participate. The program was set up by the City Council this spring after voters approved its creation last November.

To get city funding, candidates must submit a set number of $5 qualifying contributions based on the office they’re seeking.

As of Monday, two candidates – Zarro and Sykes – had qualified as clean elections candidates. Zarro has received $40,000 in city funding, while Sykes has received $4,000.

A third candidate, Bullett, has submitted qualifying contributions that the city is in the process of certifying, City Clerk Ashley Rand said Tuesday.

The deadline for candidates to submit paperwork for initial certification as a clean elections candidate is Monday, Sept. 11. Qualifying candidates have until Oct. 16 to apply to the city for supplemental funding.



Pious Ali

Pious Ali
Age: 54
Education: Grew up in Ghana and worked as a photojournalist before coming to the U.S. in 2000
Profession: Founding director of Portland Empowered
Political experience: City Council 2016 – present, Portland Board of Public Education 2013 – 2016
Community groups: Board member at Seeds of Peace International, the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, AARP Maine and the Center for Regional Prosperity. Founding board member and current board president at I’m Your Neighbor Books and founding board member at Generational Noor
Party: Democrat
Website: piousformayor.com

Justin Costa

Justin Costa
Age: 40
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University, law degree from University of Maine School of Law
Profession: Manager in accounting and finance at Auto Europe
Political experience: Portland Board of Public Education 2008 – 2014, City Council 2014 – 2020
Community groups: None
Party: Democrat
Website: justincosta.org

Mark Dion

Mark Dion
Age: 68
Education: Bachelor’s degree in criminology from University of Southern Maine, master’s degree in human services administration from Antioch College, law degree from University of Maine School of Law, Harvard Kennedy School senior executive program in state and local government
Profession: Private practice lawyer specializing in criminal defense and cannabis issues, former Cumberland County sheriff and deputy police chief in Portland
Political experience: City Council 2020 – present, Maine Senate 2016 – 2018, Maine House 2010 – 2016
Community groups: None
Party: Democrat
Website: dionforportland.com

Dylan Pugh

Dylan Pugh
Age: 34
Education: Bachelor’s degree in creative writing and sustainable business from College of the Atlantic, associate degree in software engineering from Southern Maine Community College
Profession: Software engineer at Gulf of Maine Research Institute
Political experience: None
Community groups: Mentor and volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters Southern Maine
Party: Democrat
Website: dylanforportlandmayor.org

Andrew Zarro

Andrew Zarro
Age: 35
Education: Bachelor’s degree in applied economics from the University of Vermont; Master of Public Administration from Northeastern University
Profession: Nonprofit manager at StartOut
Political experience: City Council 2020 – present
Community groups: Portland Public Library Trustee, Greater Portland Metro Board Member, Creative Portland Board, Back Cove Neighborhood Association Board, Friends of Woodfords Corner Board. Formerly involved in Portland Global Shapers and Friends of Woodfords Corner Board.
Party: Democrat
Website: zarroforportland.com

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