Mark Dion was elected Portland mayor after five rounds of ranked-choice voting. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Mark Dion was elected mayor of Portland on Wednesday morning after five rounds of a ranked-choice runoff.

The energy in the State of Maine Room at City Hall was electric as Dion, Andrew Zarro and Pious Ali stood by alongside Mayor Kate Snyder and City Manager Danielle West.

The room erupted in applause when the result was announced. The city clerk ran the runoff count instantly through the computer. After five rounds of calculations, Dion was declared the winner with 10,750 votes, at just over 51%.

Zarro, who gained more than 3,000 votes from Ali supporters in the last round of tabulations, came in a close second with 10,107 votes, a margin of just 643 votes.

In the first round of voting, Dion led with 8,839 votes (38%), followed by Zarro with 5,902 (26%) and Ali with 4,894 (21%). Justin Costa and Dylan Pugh trailed far behind, with 1,771 and 908 votes, respectively. Ranked-choice voting dictates that if no candidate has at least 50% of the vote, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and their second choice votes are redistributed among the remaining candidates.

“I think what the public wanted was to see decisive action with the council,” Dion said after the results were announced at City Hall. “I hope that in partnership with the council we can move forward together.”


“I extend my appreciation and utmost respect to the others who ran with me,” he said, calling the election “respectful.”

“It was civil and it’s what this city deserves. I fortunately was the beneficiary of the process.”

TJ and Andrew Zarro, left, and Pious Ali, right, gather at Portland City Hall as the public waits for results of a ranked-choice runoff in the race for mayor on Wednesday morning. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Dion, along with newly elected City Councilors Anna Bullett and Kate Sykes, will assume the role after a swearing-in ceremony on Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. Sykes will fill the District 5 seat, which Dion gave up to run for mayor. Bullett will fill the District 4 seat currently held by Zarro.

Dion will earn $99,102 a year, a spokesperson confirmed Wednesday. The mayor’s salary is recalculated every year, according to the city charter, and is equal to one and a half times the median household income for Portland.


Ali and Zarro quickly congratulated Dion on the win.


“It’s been an amazing campaign. I’m glad that Portland had so many citizens that chose to run for the office of mayor,” Ali said.

“This was very close. It’s fascinating to know we went through all five rounds to get to the final result and it was close,” Zarro said. “This was an amazing campaign. … This for me is a win either way and I’m proud of our city for showing up.”

Zarro said he will help Dion with the transition “even though I won’t be a city councilor in the new session.”

Andrew Zarro, left, congratulates Mark Dion after Dion was elected mayor on Wednesday morning after a ranked-choice runoff. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Snyder, who endorsed Dion and Zarro as her first and second choices, said she has high hopes for the new City Council.

“My hope is that (Dion) will find a path to working with colleagues on the council,” she said. “We have so many big issues that need to be addressed.”

Dion, 68, came to the race with years of political experience serving on the City Council, state Legislature and as Cumberland County sheriff. He ran on a platform that emphasized public safety and a law-and-order approach to the city’s homeless crisis.


During his campaign, he said that as mayor he would charge people with minor crimes for public camping, disorderly conduct or drug use, then push the courts to drop the charges if those who have been charged agree to go into counseling, shelter, drug rehabilitation or other programs the court deems necessary.

Dion said he wouldn’t be looking to punish people, but to leverage them toward the services they need. He said he would continue to sweep encampments but would aim to make sure sweeps were conducted more carefully and that people’s items are kept safe – something that has not always happened in the past.

Throughout his campaign Dion also expressed interest in developing a renter’s assistance program and in expanding public transportation.


The unofficial totals Tuesday night showed more than 46% of registered voters in the city cast ballots. Of the nearly 23,000 votes, about 6,100 were absentee.

Pugh, 34, who entered the race as a political newcomer but held his own in the debates, was the second to be eliminated after write-in candidate George Rheault, who received 100 votes.


In the second round of voting, the second choice votes from Rheault ballots were split almost evenly between Ali, Pugh and Zarro. In the third round, Pugh’s elimination sent a chunk of votes to Ali and Zarro.

Costa was eliminated in the fourth round and many of his votes went to Zarro, who received 636 votes from those ballots. Ali and Dion each received about 500.

In the final round of the runoff, Ali was eliminated, giving Zarro a big push – more than 3,000 votes – but not enough to secure the 50%.

Dion was established as the winner by a narrow margin, though he largely did not add many votes as each round went on – less than 2,000 compared to the 4,200 Zarro picked up through the five rounds.

Zarro, 35, came into the race with proposals to build 100 units of transitional housing to address the city’s encampment crisis and 10,000 units of affordable housing. Throughout his campaign, he acknowledged that these are lofty goals.

He says he’s not sure what’s next for him, but that taking care of his community will always be a priority. He acknowledged, however, that he is ready for a break.


“I think my partner and I might do a bit less for a moment … it’s been amazing going from a small-business owner to a city councilor to full-time campaigning, but we are ready for a rest,” he laughed.

Ali, 54, is currently the city’s longest serving city councilor; he has sat on the council for nine years and served a term on school board. He will continue to serve on the city council, as his seat was not up for reelection this year.

“I remain committed to serving Portland and working to make it a more equitable, prosperous and vibrant city for all,” Ali wrote on Instagram Wednesday morning.

Costa, 40, previously served on the school board and then on the City Council before losing his council seat to April Fournier in 2020. He positioned himself as a political outsider who had the experience to come in and take realistic actions to get the city back on track.

Costa acknowledged Tuesday night that it was clear he would not win the election.

“Obviously I’m disappointed personally, but really I remain concerned for the future of the city and the direction we’re going,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, Pugh congratulated Dion and expressed gratitude for the people of Portland.

“I really feel so honored to have participated in this way. I was amazed by the people who shared their hopes, concerns and vision for what the city could look like in the future. … This has shown me that there is absolutely a place for compassionate and empathetic conversations in politics,” he said.

As for what’s next: “Maybe politics down the line,” he said. “But certainly a break before anything else.”

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