Portland City Councilor Roberto Rodriguez listens during a public comment session at City Hall in April. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Portland City Councilor Roberto Rodriguez announced Tuesday that he will not seek another term in November.

Rodriguez was elected to the at-large seat in 2021 after a tied runoff led to a hand recount of votes. He also served two terms on the school board.

“I feel like I’m leaving something very different than what I came into,” Rodriguez said in a phone interview. “It’s been a period of change in our city. We’ve experienced the pandemic and a lot of political polarization.

“It’s a different government from when I started,” he said, noting that major leadership roles in the city including mayor, city manager and several department heads have turned over during his term.

Rodriguez said he is ready to step back from government and focus on his family and business, Fresh Food Gardens, which installs and maintains vegetable gardens for clients.

As a city councilor, he has been involved in several big initiatives, including designing the clean elections program, passing an amendment to a housing bill that required the city to allow for more housing, and he and Councilor Anna Trevorrow pushed to suspend the city’s camping ordinance to allow homeless people to camp through the winter. That effort ultimately failed during a marathon council meeting last fall.


“I feel really fortunate to have been a part of a community and to have felt so engaged with that community over these transitional years. I am really grateful for that,” Rodriguez said.

He said he decided to announce that he wouldn’t seek reelection after hearing murmurs of interest in his seat.

“I wanted to get out ahead of that,” he said.

Joey Brunelle and Jake Viola have already announced they plan to run for the seat.

Brunelle, who is 38 and a graphic designer and web developer in Portland, said he is backed by councilors April Fournier and Kate Sykes. He ran for an at-large seat on the council in 2017, but lost to Jill Duson. He lost another bid for an at-large seat the following year to Nicholas Mavodones.

“In many ways this is a continuation of the campaigns I ran in 2017 and 2018 because a lot of the issues we faced back then are still with us, and many are substantially worse. I’ve seen local government struggle with finding solutions to these problems,” he said in a phone interview.


Brunelle said he grew up in Kennebunk and moved back to Portland last year after living in California for several years.

Viola, who is 32, said he decided to run for office when he heard rumors that Rodriguez was stepping down.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved civically,” he said.

In an interview Tuesday morning, Viola said his number one priority as a councilor would be making himself available to his constituents. He’s also concerned with housing affordability and climate resiliency.

Viola was born and raised in South Portland and then spent several years working in federal and state government in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts, he said. He moved back to Portland in 2021. Viola said he once operated an ice cream boat on Lake Sebago as a summer job. His parents and grandparents worked in the commercial fishing industry and he remembers spending time with them at the Portland waterfront as a kid.

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