Portland's Mayoral Race Begins to Take Shape
Two years ago, I wrote that if Portland created an elected mayor position, it would become a new center of political power in the state.
Now that the position is in place and the election is slated for November, sixteen candidates have taken the first step towards entering the race.
The election will be decided by an instant run-off or "ranked choice" voting system, meaning that instead of winning with a simple plurality, which in such a large field could be a very small percentage of the vote, a successful candidate will likely have to be a consensus choice.
Here’s a rundown of the candidates who have filed to run so far. Names are linked to their official Web presence, if any. Tomorrow they can begin gathering the 300 signatures needed to make it on the official ballot, which are due at the end of August.
Erik M. Bennett, Republican. This colorful character was a new media staffer for Paul LePage’s gubernatorial campaign and holds some positions that are likely far to the right of Portland’s voters. This thirteen-minute video he recently put online discussing his arrest for domestic violence probably won’t help, either.
Zouhair Bouzrara, Unenrolled. Bouzrara is another candidates with a criminal record longer than his political one, having been convicted of “Harassment by Telephone” last year. He supports legalizing prostitution and “weed” and told the Portland Phoenix that he’d like to “turn Portland into a mini Nice or a mini Dubai.”
Charles Bragdon, Unenrolled. Taxi driver and perennial candidate Charles Bragdon is throwing his hat into yet another Portland political campaign after losing races for city council and state representative by wide margins. Bragdon has now run for office as a Democrat, a Green Independent, and unenrolled.
Michael Brennan, Democrat. Brennan is a prominent politician and activist. He has previously been elected as a state representative and state senator from Portland and served as Senate Majority Leader. He ran for Congress in the First District in 2008, coming in third behind Chellie Pingree and Adam Cote.
Peter Bryant, Democrat. Bryant is new to politics and doesn’t seem to have much of a public record. He previously served in the U.S. Marines and as a merchant seaman.
Ralph Carmona, Democrat. Carmona moved to Portland last year from California and has quickly become a high-profile activist as head of the Maine chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Richard Dodge, Republican. Dodge is county director for the United Bikers of Maine, an organization that has been most politically active in preventing a state helmet law.
Jill Duson, Democrat. Duson is a four-term, at-large Portland City Councilor who has twice served as the appointed mayor of the city. Also, she can dance, sort of.
Hamza A. Haadoow, Unenrolled. An accountant and former small business owner, Haadoow immigrated to Maine ten years ago from Somalia. He co-founded the East Africa Family Association and Somali Community Development of Maine. Posts to his personal Facebook page show he may have some work to do on his English language skills.
Jodie Lapchick, Democrat. Lapchick is a marketing consultant and small business owner who says being mayor is a “marketing job.”
David Marshall, Green Independent. Marshall is a sitting city councilor for District 2 in the West End and a prominent progressive activist. He worked to initiate many of the changes brought about by the charter commission.
Nick Mavodones, Democrat. A five-term, at-large city councilor, Mavodones is Portland’s current mayor, under the appointment system.
Markos Miller, Unenrolled. An involved East End Resident and a teacher at Deering High School, Miller has served two terms as president of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization.
Jed Rathband, Democrat. One of the first to enter the race, Rathband is a public relations consultant and led the campaign to approve the charter committee proposal that created the elected mayor position.
Paul Schafer, Democrat. Shafer is a production photographer for WMTW. Despite having no previous political experience, he has offered one of the race’s most interesting quotes so far. “I think Portland is a freakishly awesome little city and it deserves a freakishly awesome little mayor,” Shafer told the Portland Daily Sun.
Christopher Vail, Unenrolled. Vail is a Portland firefighter who grew up on Peaks Island.