Mayor-elect Mark Dion and outgoing Mayor Kate Snyder chat before the Portland City Council meeting at which Dion was sworn in on Monday. Sofia Aldinio/ Staff Photographer

Mark Dion was sworn in as Portland’s mayor Monday night along with two new city councilors and a third who was reelected.

Dion, 68, won a five-way race in November that was called after five rounds of ranked choice voting gave him a narrow victory over Andrew Zarro, a fellow city councilor at the time.

He takes office as homelessness and the large number of people living outside in encampments continue to be the biggest issues facing the city, along with a housing shortage.

“I stand here no stranger to the challenges facing our city,” Dion said shortly after taking the oath of office in a packed council chambers. “To that end, I look forward to my work on this council in partnership with each of you, as I have as a district councilor, so that together we can realize goals that will further the best interests and expectations of our constituents.”

Dion will serve a four-year term, while members of the City Council sworn in Monday night will serve for three years. He will earn a salary of $99,102, while councilors earn $7,441 annually.

The new councilors sworn in Monday were Anna Bullett, who will represent District 4, and Kate Sykes, who will represent District 5. April Fournier, who was reelected to a second term for an at-large seat, also was sworn in.


Bullett replaces Zarro, who gave 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.

Sykes takes over Dion’s seat representing District 5, which includes the North Deering, Deering Center and Riverton neighborhoods.


Dion 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.

Mayor Kate Snyder before the Mayor & City Council Ceremony in Portland on Monday. Sofia Aldinio/ Staff Photographer

“As this new journey begins, I ask this council to consider action on the public concerns we heard throughout the campaign – first, let us recommit to the core principle of government, responsibility to keep everyone safe,” Dion said. “Portland residents are entitled to feeling safe in their daily lives. We all deserve public spaces, parks and a trail system that are vibrant, active and welcoming to everyone.”

He said city leaders “must do all we can to clear the encampments and provide shelter and services to those trapped in those circumstances,” while also working with neighborhoods and businesses that have been impacted by the homelessness crisis.


Dion’s 10-minute speech also touched on housing, climate change and the economy.

He said the city needs to improve its permitting and inspections process to shorten the timeline for getting projects approved and built, and should consider modifying its Jill C. Duson Housing Trust Fund to prioritize low-income and family-friendly projects.

With regard to climate change, the new mayor said the city needs to respond to the impact that rising sea levels will have on the Gulf of Maine and residential and commercial interests on the waterfront.

And he said the city must keep in mind the impact of policy decisions on taxpayers. “Their capacity to pay is not without limit,” said Dion, who encouraged the council and Legislature to work together to ensure the city has adequate support meeting the needs of immigration, housing, mental health and substance abuse.


Outgoing Mayor Kate Snyder, who chose not to seek reelection after one term, congratulated Dion on his victory and reflected on the last four years Monday night. She said the city budget is sound and she was impressed by the work of the staff during her tenure, citing as an example the opening last week of a privately owned shelter for asylum seekers where the city is providing services.


“I could name every department in the city,” Snyder said. “Everybody is working hard to make sure we have a municipal government that works for you, the community.”

She said the city has made progress in adding new housing – approving over 3,000 new housing units since 2018 – but said more is needed and that the city needs to continue working with state and regional partners.

Mayor Mark Dion, the new mayor, takes the oath of office for Mayor by the Portland City Clerk on Monday. Sofia Aldinio/Staff Photographer

She urged the council to stay involved and engaged on two particular state issues – General Assistance funding and an executive order from Gov. Janet Mills to create an Office of New Americans. “These two issues will impact Portland greatly,” Snyder said.

The outgoing mayor also asked community members to have patience with each other and their local government.

“We are up here to think about the collective and we are often at odds with how much time we have and how many resources we have and how many priorities there are in the community,” Snyder said. “It’s difficult and it’s natural for people to want to advocate for their priorities. I ask you to think about how much municipal government manages in the city of Portland.”

Dion is the fourth popularly elected mayor since city voters approved changes to the post in 2010. Previously, councilors chose a mayor from among themselves and the job was not a full-time position.

The mayor’s duties include chairing the City Council, working with councilors and the city manager to establish and implement citywide goals, providing comments on city budgets, delivering an annual State of the City address, and advocating for the city at the state and federal levels.

The city manager, who is hired by the full nine-member council, is tasked with drafting the city budget and capital improvement plans, appointing department heads and overseeing day-to-day operations.

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