Anna Bullett, left, and Sam Cady are vying for the District 4 Portland City Council seat.

Second of four stories. 

Two political newcomers with backgrounds in health care are running to represent District 4 on the Portland City Council, and like other candidates on the ballot, they say an urgent priority is to tackle homelessness.

Anna Bullett, 39, and Sam Cady, 50, are competing for the council seat currently held by Andrew Zarro, who is giving up his seat to run for mayor. District 4 includes East Deering, most of the Back Cove and parts of the Deering Center and North Deering neighborhoods.

It’s up for grabs this year along with the District 5 seat currently held by Mark Dion, who also is running for mayor, and the at-large seat currently held by April Fournier, who is seeking reelection.

Bullett is the director of health and nutrition programs at The Opportunity Alliance, which serves low-income residents in Cumberland County. She said she wants to hear from homeless people to find creative solutions to move people out of tents and into shelter.

“I want to listen to them, find best practice models – and then if there’s an idea that bubbles up from the community that hasn’t been tried out, I love to try new ideas and help do the work of organizing and operationalizing a solution,” she said.


In the meantime, she says she’s a believer in the state’s “coordinated entry” program, which was piloted in Bangor and operates in a few places throughout the state. The program aims to offer all homeless people the same choices and services no matter how they enter the system. The goal behind the model is to make access to services equitable and to match people with appropriate services more quickly.

Portland’s Encampment Crisis Response Team has brought in community partners who receive referrals through coordinated entry, but Bullett said she would like to see the city’s social services department do more and rely less heavily on community partners.

Cady is an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon with an office on Marginal Way, near a homeless encampment. He has become increasingly concerned for the safety of his patients and staff as the encampment has grown. He said he’s found people overdosing on the steps of his practice and picked up needles around the parking lot. He feels certain that the encampments need to end, for the safety of those living in them and the surrounding community.

“The more I have learned, the more I feel like we are not offering the people of Portland, citizens and businesses, a good product,” said Cady. “You can’t legally camp. We have a hands-off approach right now, and I’d like to see a more hands-on approach.”

To close the encampments, which he said he wants to do, the city needs to offer more beds in facilities with services for mental health and opioid addiction. He thinks opening the new shelter for asylum seekers next month will help make that possible, but he said he would consider expanding capacity at the city shelter or working with community partners – which the city is already doing – to get people off the street and clean up the encampments.

Bullett cited child care as another concern. She is a mother of two young kids and wants to see the city do more to support young families.


“We need a multipronged approach to address the needs of child care because it’s keeping people out of the workforce,” she said.

She acknowledges that the state has made some new investments in child care, but she thinks Portland families need more help. She isn’t sure exactly what that would look like, but says free day care is something she would consider. She is also concerned about climate change and mitigating some of the impacts on the community of rising sea levels and warmer summers.

“I worry about people who live in apartments with no climate control and what that means for the health and safety of the elderly and young babies,” said Bullett.

Cady said he is focused on what he calls the “nuts and bolts” of city operations.

“Plowing the roads, fixing the sidewalks. I’d like to focus on fully staffing the departments that are understaffed in the city,” he said. “I’d like to help make the city of Portland a good or great place to work.”

Neither candidate said they had any long-held desire to run for office, but both said they would be excited to serve on the council.


“I’ve always said I wanted to wait until my kids are a little bit older,” Bullett said. “But I see such value in having a parent who is actively experiencing parenthood of school-aged children on the council.”

Cady said he feels like he could help make Portland a better place.

“If I didn’t think it was worthwhile, I wouldn’t be doing it – but I think it’s important,” he said.

Bullett is a clean elections candidate and had received $3,800 from the city as of late September. Cady is running a traditionally financed campaign and had raised $3,250 in the same period.




Age: 39

Occupation: Senior director of health and nutrition programs at The Opportunity Alliance. Administers WIC and SNAP contracts for Cumberland County

Education: Bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Johnson & Wales University, master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Maine at Orono

Hometown: Auburn

Political Experience: None





Age: 50

Occupation: Ophthalmologist and eye surgeon

Education: Bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Duke and medical degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse

Hometown: Syracuse, New York

Political Experience: None


Tomorrow: City Council District 5. 

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