Early Voting at City Hall is now OPEN. Get more Voter Information here.

The winners of this election will re-write Portland’s future. See what the candidates support by reading their survey responses below. The Portland Democrats invited every Charter Commission candidate to participate.

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District 5

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Mony HangRyan Lizanecz
PartyUNAFFILIATEDDEMOCRAT
WebsiteNo Responseryanforportland.com
Should the elected Mayor be given more influence over the policy and budget of the City of Portland?No Response YES
CommentsOur mayor needs to be able to actually make meaningful policy and bring it forth to the council. They also need access to department heads and policy assistance in drafting this. Quite bluntly, as of now, our mayor position is a paid facilitator for council meetings. Through empowering the mayor, we need a council that can hold that mayor accountable and we need a balance of powers, to prevent corruption
Should there be a change to the position, supervision, or responsibility of the City Manager?No Response YES
CommentsPolicy authority needs to be shifted to our elected councilors and the mayor. The City Manager needs to be underneath the mayor and council, not the policy maker. Furthermore, the City Manager should not be hoarding city staff, resources and making policy. There still is a role for administrative public servants, including potentially a type of manager, but those individuals need to be held tightly to our elected officials’ oversight.
Should the City of Portland provide for public funding of elections for municipal office, similar to Maine’s Clean Election Fund for state office?No Response YES
CommentsIt is long overdue that Portland adopt a municipal clean elections program. The costs will be minimal, and the benefits will be taking big money out of City Hall. It’s a small price to pay for a democracy that works for us, not those with the biggest wallets.
Should residents of Portland who are not yet citizens of the United States be able to vote in municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law)No Response YES
Comments
Should the City of Portland implement automatic vote-by-mail for municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law)No Response YES
CommentsNo brainer! More people voting is better for all of us.
Should the City of Portland’s governing process be more inclusive, transparent, and accessible?No Response YES
CommentsThe creation of local community boards to empower our districts and neighborhoods would be fantastic.

District 4

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Marcques HoustonCheryl Leeman
PartyDEMOCRATREPUBLICAN
Websitehoustonforportland.comNo Response
Should the elected Mayor be given more influence over the policy and budget of the City of Portland? YESNo Response
Comments
Should there be a change to the position, supervision, or responsibility of the City Manager? YESNo Response
CommentsI believe the Charter Commission should re-examine the roles of Mayor and City Manager to better suit the needs of the people. I believe in giving the Mayor more executive power, leaving policy discussions to positions directly elected by the voters and putting power back into the hands of the people. The Commission can restructure the roles of City Manager and Mayor so they can work together, better, for Portland. 
Should the City of Portland provide for public funding of elections for municipal office, similar to Maine’s Clean Election Fund for state office? YESNo Response
CommentsInstead of raising money from special interests, candidates and elected officials should have the opportunity to spend time listening to and serving the people they represent. That’s why I support re-examining the Charter to allow the possibility of a municipal clean elections program. By loosening the grip of wealthy donors on City politics, representatives will be more accountable and local elections can be more representative of working- and middle-class Portlanders.
Should residents of Portland who are not yet citizens of the United States be able to vote in municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law) YESNo Response
CommentsEach year, we spend millions of dollars investing in communities where these families live and I believe they should have a say in that process. Our non-citizen residents are already engaged in so much of how our City functions, except they do not have the opportunity to participate in one fundamental way: voting. We should welcome engagement and participation from all Portland residents, regardless of citizenship.
Should the City of Portland implement automatic vote-by-mail for municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law) YESNo Response
CommentsAnything that we can do to maximize voter participation for our local elections and make the voting process will be good for our democracy.
Should the City of Portland’s governing process be more inclusive, transparent, and accessible? YESNo Response
CommentsAbsolutely. Addressing the themes from the questions above would be a great step forward in creating a more transparent, inclusive, and accessible local government where everyone has a voice and can easily understand what policy decisions will mean for them and the rest of Portland.

District 3

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Zack BarowitzBrian BatsonCharles Byron
PartyDEMOCRATDEMOCRATDEMOCRAT
Websitezackforportland.orgbatson4charter.orgcharlie4portland.com
Should the elected Mayor be given more influence over the policy and budget of the City of Portland?YESYESUNSURE
CommentsIf the Commission recommends to retain an elected Mayor, then yes they should be given executive powers. I could see a system where (similar to Westbrook) a City Administrator would be hired by the Mayor to lend guidance to budget and policy but ultimately the budget should be put forth by the Mayor to the Council for approval. The positions should be complementary but with the Mayor being in charge.I do believe the Mayor should be more involved in the budget process. I believe we can look at ways to empower the Mayor’s role without eliminating the City Manager position, and without giving complete executive powers to the Mayor. This can be done particularly through the budget process.We have elected city council members, who along with the mayor, set policy and approve budgets generated by the school board and city manager. Our current charter needs improvements to clarify how these policies are administered and clarification regarding the scope of mayoral functions and power. It is important not to undermine the checks and balances in our city’s government.
Should there be a change to the position, supervision, or responsibility of the City Manager?YESNOYES
CommentsThe City Manager should be hired and answerable to the Mayor with some Council oversight. I favor a  traditional role (and title) of City Administrator; to oversee contracts, payroll, reporting, FOIAs, HR, and have an advisory role in policy and budget recommendations. But policy direction and political decisions should be the realm of elected officials. We could stagger the Mayor’s term and the Administrator’s contract  to ensure better continuity.It is imperative we keep a position that carries out the day to day operations of the city. Currently all council-staff communications are funneled through the city manager, and this was intentionally written for streamlining purposes. I believe Councilors need quick and adequate access to staff in order to assist in forming policy. We should explore independent staff that work for the entire council – similar to Augusta for legislators.Having reviewed the Charter, improved clarification is necessary. The role of the mayor should be to oversee and coordinate along with the city manager any matters that affect the broader Portland constituency to ensure fair and impartial review, public trust of the process, and to guarantee alignment with overarching policy goals. Day-to-day functions of the city should remain with the city manager under policy supervision and review by the mayor.
Should the City of Portland provide for public funding of elections for municipal office, similar to Maine’s Clean Election Fund for state office?YESYESNO
CommentsYes, this would broaden the range of candidates. There are numerous clean elections programs, I would opt for one that provides adequate funding and would start with considering the state model.This was the entire reason the charter vote went out to the voters.I support the idea of clean elections and agree we should work to eliminate inequity in elections, but it is inappropriate to use taxpayer money to support candidates that we may not politically or ideologically align with. Financing a campaign should stem primarily from the merit of constituent engagement and I support improvements to caps on spending and/or funding from personal wealth and third-party contributions to level the field.
Should residents of Portland who are not yet citizens of the United States be able to vote in municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law)YESYESNO
CommentsYes. Residents who live, work, pay taxes, etc. should have a vote. I am aware of various concerns of unintended consequences of this policy which I would give due consideration.I completely support this. It must be done carefully to prevent individuals from having their names on a list that could theoretically be accessed by an entity such as ICE.I support expanding voting to include residents who are on a path to legal naturalization and improving advocacy for those who are ineligible or unable to vote in municipal elections.
Should the City of Portland implement automatic vote-by-mail for municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law)YESYESYES
CommentsYes we saw this work well in the November 2020 election. It helped broaden the electorate especially to people who may have trouble getting to the polls on election day.Life can be hectic and unpredictable, there is no reasonable argument to not try and improve voter accessibility and convenience as long as we maintain a high level of transparency.
Should the City of Portland’s governing process be more inclusive, transparent, and accessible?YESYESYES
CommentsThere are many ways to achieve this within the Charter. The POLICE CITIZEN REVIEW SUBCOMMITTEE can be more effective if it could take citizen complaints directly and by giving it a budget. The creation of three or four COMMUNITY ASSEMBLIES with elected COMMUNITY CHAIRS for each district, which could participate in making appointments to Boards & Committees, have a budget for community development, and be a platform for leadership development.I am not running on the campaign of “I have all of the answers” because I don’t. I believe it is important to remember we are electing individuals to be on the Charter Commission not just ideas. Over the next year plus, while this process plays out, I do believe we need to look at creative ways to make city government more inclusive, transparent, and accessible.Yes, the city is already making some improvements and I believe that continuing to leverage technology and developing improved definitions of our legislative roles and measurable accountability for them will naturally generate progress in transparency, accessibility, inclusion, and accountability.

District 2

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Robert O’Brien
PartyDEMOCRAT
Websitetinyurl.com/obrienforcharter
Should the elected Mayor be given more influence over the policy and budget of the City of Portland?YES
CommentsThe mayor of Portland should be the executive of the city, nominating department heads to be ratified by the council. The mayor should own the budget. The primary duties of the mayor should be: nominating department heads, developing the budget, serving as the city’s diplomat, developing policies to be sent to the council for debate, participating in the development of large economic projects, and acting as chief lobbyist for Portland.
Should there be a change to the position, supervision, or responsibility of the City Manager?YES
CommentsWith the incorporation of a new executive mayor, the city manager’s current roles and duties could be reassigned among various department heads, or the mayor may nominate a chief operating officer (ratified by the council) that reports to the mayor.
Should the City of Portland provide for public funding of elections for municipal office, similar to Maine’s Clean Election Fund for state office?YES
CommentsAbsolutely. I think fundraising is a critical barrier to political new-comers. It also presents a substantial disadvantage to poorer or working-class candidates. Private donations buy access to a candidate. They just do. Let’s get moneyed influence out of politics.
Should residents of Portland who are not yet citizens of the United States be able to vote in municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law)YES
CommentsWe should not fear more voices in our democracy. We should allow all legal residents of Portland to vote in municipal elections.
Should the City of Portland implement automatic vote-by-mail for municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law)UNSURE
CommentsI believe any voter should have the right to request a mail-in ballot without needing to provide a reason. However, I don’t think we should mail ballots to addresses without a voter’s consent.
Should the City of Portland’s governing process be more inclusive, transparent, and accessible?YES
CommentsEliminate at-large seats, creating smaller district seats. Elect the executive mayor every three years to ensure accountability. Hire a public advocate to investigate city services, answer constituent inquiries, and respond to FOIA requests. Create a Citizen Public Safety Review Commission to oversee emergency response services and report findings to the city council.

District 1

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David CowieKaren SnyderShay Stewart-Bouley
PartyDEMOCRATDEMOCRATDEMOCRAT
WebsiteNoneTBDshayforcharter.org
Should the elected Mayor be given more influence over the policy and budget of the City of Portland?UNSUREYESYES
CommentsThe mayor should be representing the intent of the Comprehensive Plan which was developed based on a public process from the citizens and not special interest groups. However, “partisan” politics needs to be avoided when and if mayor is given more influence in policy and budget.
Should there be a change to the position, supervision, or responsibility of the City Manager?YESYESYES
CommentsThe City Manager’s job responsibilities needs to be de-mystified as to transparency to backroom and executive meetings, influence on City administration, City Councilors, and the City budget.
Should the City of Portland provide for public funding of elections for municipal office, similar to Maine’s Clean Election Fund for state office?YESYESYES
CommentsThis should be the primary action addressed by the Charter Commission. The Charter was opened up because of the City’s decision to not put the Clean Elections referendum on the ballot in 2019. The City stated that the Charter Commission must address clean elections because it was constituted a fundamental change to the balance of power in the city.
Should residents of Portland who are not yet citizens of the United States be able to vote in municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law)NOUNSUREYES
CommentsI would rather provide better guidance, assistance, and possible funding for non-citizens to access citizenship.After doing research, it appears that approximately 11 cities in the United States allows non-citizens to vote at the local level which are primarily in Maryland. This issue if considered higher priority will need to be analyzed fairly and thoroughly as to ramifications of the intent and the unintended consequences that could occur since non-citizens do not vote in federal elections.
Should the City of Portland implement automatic vote-by-mail for municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law)YESYESYES
CommentsExpand voting.To increase voting access doesn’t necessarily mean increased spending especially since the USPS has been having issues. A simple and effective way to increase voting access would be to have a voting day holiday where all citizens are off on voting day to allow them to vote on election day.
Should the City of Portland’s governing process be more inclusive, transparent, and accessible?YESYESYES
CommentsA true form of democracy is where all citizens have access early on in the City processes. This is not the case with executive meetings that are closed to the public or when developers meet with City officials’ years in advance prior to permit application which at that time moves very fast through the system.

At-Large (B-D)

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William BaileyCatherine BuxtonMarpheen ChannLawson CondreySteven DiMillo
PartyREPUBLICANDEMOCRATDEMOCRATDEMOCRATREPUBLICAN
WebsiteNo Answercatherineforcharter.comchann4charter.comcondreyforportland.comNone
Should the elected Mayor be given more influence over the policy and budget of the City of Portland?No AnswerYESYESYESUNSURE
CommentsI believe an elected mayor should be guiding the policy agenda, with oversight by council. They should be presenting the budget and serve as the executive helm of the city, as they are directly accountable to voters who are most impacted by policy.President Biden often says, “Show me your budget and I’ll show you your policy priorities.” The mayor ought to have more oversight and direction over the budget process by allowing for a more public and participatory budget process from the very start, rather than the mayor, council, and public only having April and May to look over the budgets of the city and schools.I believe in a strong mayor system. My guiding principle is that political decisions should be made by people who are elected. Setting priorities and a vision for the city should be done in concert with the City Council. This will ensure that those elected are accountable for the decisions they make and will have to be more transparent about those decisions.
Should there be a change to the position, supervision, or responsibility of the City Manager?No AnswerYESYESYESUNSURE
CommentsThe current iteration of this position is a vestige of “gentlemans government” and imbues the city manager with too much decision making power without accountability from the electorate. I would like to explore instituting a city administrator or chief of staff who has operational oversight, potentially appointed by the mayor. I would also like to explore how to develop stronger communication and relationships between elected and appointed staff.I believe the position of mayor needs to be clarified and strengthened and that the city manager’s role limited to that of a chief administrative officer or a chief operations officer that serves the mayor and council. Currently, vestiges of the pure manager-council system still exist and I believe we need to move to a complete hybrid system with checks and balances put in place.Yes. I do support a city administrator position that can run the day-to-day operations of the city. I don’t expect an elected official to know how to maintain payroll for city staff or coordinate department heads during a snow emergency. I do expect that administration position to be removed from political decisions going forward so that the line between Mayor and City Manager is clearer and less confusing to Portlanders.
Should the City of Portland provide for public funding of elections for municipal office, similar to Maine’s Clean Election Fund for state office?No AnswerYESYESYESUNSURE
CommentsAs a first-time candidate and young person, Clean Election funding would make a huge difference! I could spend more time engaging voters and less time fundraising. Clean elections funds would be particularly impactful in empowering more diverse candidates with less access to generational wealth, while limiting the role of corporate donations. I am interested in exploring all the ways to provide candidates support while limiting the influence of big donors.But I would like to explore how the city can collaborate and work with the Maine Ethics Commission to expand the existing state program or to have an agreement in place where they administer the program (utilizing their online reporting system, etc.), which will save the city money.Elections in Portland are prohibitively expensive for most people to even consider running. There should be a fund available to allow for ANYONE who wants to run to have that opportunity. I’ve written this elsewhere but I think it should be different allocations for larger races (like the Mayoral) versus district-wide races (like city council) especially if districts are smaller.
Should residents of Portland who are not yet citizens of the United States be able to vote in municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law)No AnswerYESYESYESNO
CommentsThe decisions that impact our lives most are made locally, and everyone should be able to impact the decisions made in their hometown. Immigrants go to school here, own businesses, pay taxes, and make our community stronger. I want to be thorough and intentional to ensure that municipal voting for non-citizens is safe, and that the Commission seeks input from community leaders as we codify this process.But before I vote to approve expanding voting rights to noncitizens, it is important that we not put noncitizens at risk of deportation and other enforcement actions. It is illegal for noncitizens to vote in federal elections and the penalties are severe. In addition, how will we handle voter registration and keep noncitizen data (addresses, phone numbers, etc.) protected.For too long residents of this country have been denied the right to vote. We can change that here. There are many of our neighbors who are affected by decisions made in City Hall but have no say in what happens in their community. Increasing access will be healthy for our city and we have the chance to be a role model for other towns and cities across the country.
Should the City of Portland implement automatic vote-by-mail for municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law)No AnswerYESYESYESUNSURE
CommentsAs we have learned from the past election, vote-by-mail is safe and effective. It was a game changer during the pandemic, and makes the voting process more accessible for working people, families, and people with different abilities.I’m in favor allowing more people the ability to cast a vote in general. This would also have the benefit of increasing turnout in traditionally lower-turnout elections.
Should the City of Portland’s governing process be more inclusive, transparent, and accessible?No AnswerYESYESYESYES
CommentsThere are so many ways to achieve this! We need smaller neighborhood districts, and I’d love to explore neighborhood assemblies or councils. We need to continue lives-streaming meetings and ensure asynchronous participation, translation, and captioning. The city should provide more information to voters about contracts, councilor voting records, and more.These are a few ideas and I look forward to collaborating more with fellow commissioners to achieve these goals.I believe this can be achieved by modernizing how the city does outreach. We cannot simply rely on mail, newspaper ads, and standard neighborhood meetings. The city must think outside of the box that favors predominately those of privilege and means. In addition, we should consider the following ideas on my website: CREATING A PERMANENT HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, INCLUDE A LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT IN THE CHARTER PREAMBLE, REQUIRING RACIAL IMPACT STATEMENTS.Most definitely. From better communication to enhanced education around what the city is prioritizing — the Charter Commission is our best chance at making sure our government works for all of us. And that begins with a better understanding for all Portlanders what is happening inside City Hall. I believe the proposals above and others can make our government more accountable, accessible, and transparent.

At-Large (E-W)

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Anthony EmersonBen GrantIan HousealNasreen Sheikh-YousefPatricia Washburn
PartyDEMOCRATDEMOCRATUNAFFILIATEDDEMOCRATDEMOCRAT
Websiteanthonyforportland.orgbenjaminkgrant.comlinkedin.com/in/ian-p-housealdonorbox.org/nasreen4portlandpatforportland.com
Should the elected Mayor be given more influence over the policy and budget of the City of Portland?YESYESNOYESYES
CommentsThe city executive and the person responsible for setting the city’s policy agenda should be accountable to the voters of the city.Yes, we need to move toward a strong-Mayor system. The current system does not work and results in too much unnecessary acrimony and not enough progress. My key proposal is to make the Mayor responsible for proposing a full City budget. I also believe in strengthening the Mayor’s hand in day-to-day operations, including some hiring decisions.The Mayor should have less executive authority and share that power with the City Councilors and the voters of Portland; otherwise, it is undemocratic.I support creating a strong elected executive Mayor.Decision-making for the city should be performed by people who are responsive to, and responsible to, the voters.
Should there be a change to the position, supervision, or responsibility of the City Manager?YESYESNOYESYES
CommentsAs I stated previously, the person responsible for setting the city’s policy agenda should be accountable for the voters. At the same time, certain administrative duties and the day-to-day management of the city could also be a job held by a professional.Too many decisions right now are made by unelected people. We need to have more accountability and responsiveness, and one way to achieve this is to move more powers from the CM to the Mayor. I also believe the Mayor should have a larger role in selecting the CM (if we even call it that anymore), with appropriate checks/balances from the Council.There are a few positions in the Charter that should be reviewed.I support eliminating the position of unelected City Manager.This position should be eliminated.
Should the City of Portland provide for public funding of elections for municipal office, similar to Maine’s Clean Election Fund for state office?YESYESNOYESYES
CommentsAs a working class person, a person who makes minimum wage, the systemic barriers to my participation in the electoral process in Portland. Running campaigns cost money — thousands of dollars. Money I and many other Portlanders do not have. A clean election fund would be a major help to the campaigns of working class people.Yes, I support creating a public financing program in the Charter, and I envision it running just as the State system does for the Legislative candidates.Keep money of all kinds out of local election. Charter commission candidates are spending $10,000 on their campaigns; that is unrealistic and not what Portland needs. That special interests and outside money are seeking to influence community issues is disgusting; just count the number of lawn signs littering Baxter Blvd and throughout the City by its biggest spenders.I support amending the charter to provide Clean Elections for all municipal races with funding in Portland.Such a measure would make it possible for a wider range of people to offer their energy and skills in public offices.
Should residents of Portland who are not yet citizens of the United States be able to vote in municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law)YESYESYESYESYES
CommentsNon-citizen residents pay our taxes and send their children to our schools, but have no say over how those schools are run or what those taxes pay for. More democracy, more voice can only bring positive change to our city.Yes, I am in favor of non-citizen residents voting in municipal elections. The only caveat that I have encountered during this campaign is addressing any legal concerns over privacy and immigration status. Assuming those hurdles can be cleared, I support this change.Yes, in local elections.I support a Charter change that provides all Portland adult residents the right to vote in municipal elections regardless of citizenship.Yes, IF this can be done without endangering those who are undocumented or otherwise subject to federal crackdowns. Before implementing any such plan, I would want to communicate more fully with immigrant leaders and advocates.
Should the City of Portland implement automatic vote-by-mail for municipal elections? (To the extent allowed by state law)YESYESNOYESYES
CommentsAbsolutely. We should make it as easy as possible to vote in this city.Yes, this would be a good step forward to greater participation. Other jurisdictions have vote-by-mail as the default election model, and we can certainly move in that direction here. I support any legal measures to increase turnout.This question should be rephrased.This would be a boon to people with disabilities, who may have trouble accessing polling places, especially during winter weather.
Should the City of Portland’s governing process be more inclusive, transparent, and accessible?YESYESYESYESYES
CommentsI have so many ideas on this — increase the number of city councilors to have more neighborhood representation, increase city council and school board pay to allow them to work full-time for their constituents, protect and expand the referendum process. This is my top priority. Portlanders deserve a government as great as its people.Yes, City government should be more inclusive, transparent, and accessible. One of my themes is making city government more responsive to the desires of the citizenry. I think we can do better at this through creating smaller Council districts, mandating more district meetings, and providing constituent service staff to Councilors and the Mayor.Absolutely, and with a public advocate or ombudsperson.In particular, I support using technology to improve the level of information and participation available to citizens of the city.

Voting Information

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June 8, 2021 Special Municipal Election

The Charter is the City of Portland’s “constitution.” It identifies our City’s values, determines our City’s governing structure, and outlines how our City’s elections are to be conducted. Read Portland’s current Charter here.

The Charter Commission will review our City’s Charter and suggest changes. Three members have been appointed to the Commission by the City Council. This election will add nine more members: the (one) highest-ranked candidate from each of the five Districts, and the (four) highest-ranked candidates from the At-Large pool.

Go to the City of Portland’s election page here.

ABSENTEE BALLOTS

Request an absentee ballot by filling out the online form here, or by calling the City Clerk’s office at 207-874-8677 M-F, 9:00am to 4:30pm.

Return absentee ballots to the CLERK’S OFFICE during business hours, or anytime by 8pm on Election Day in the 24/7 ballot drop box at City Hall on Myrtle Street.

EARLY VOTING

As of May 11, early in-person absentee voting is now open in the Merrill Auditorium Box Office lobby during regular office hours. 

ELECTION DAY

Look up your District (Ward) and polling place here.

You may register to vote at your polling place on Election Day.

If you requested an absentee ballot but have not returned it, you may vote in-person at your polling place on Election Day.