7 turn in papers to become Portland's first elected mayor

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PORTLAND — Seven of the 20 residents to express interest in becoming Portland’s first popularly elected mayor in more than 80 years have turned in their nomination papers, as of Tuesday morning.

Now, the candidates must wait as the City Clerk’s office works to validate each petition.

This November, voters will choose a full-time mayor who will serve a four-year term, draw a $65,000 annual salary and have veto power over the city budget.

Currently, the mayor is selected by the City Council and plays a largely ceremonial role.

Monday was the first day residents could turn in nomination papers.

City Councilor Jill Duson, one of only two women interested in the position, was the first person to take out nomination papers and the first to turn them.

Other candidates to turn in their papers include Hamza Haadoow, Councilor David Marshall, Mayor Nicholas Mavodones, John Eder, Peter Bryant and Ralph Carmona.

Elections administrator Bud Philbrick said petition signatures will be verified in the order they are received. He estimated it would take a couple days for two and three staffers to verify the petition signatures for each candidate.

Unlike citizen-initiatives, the City Charter allows candidates to continue collecting signatures if they fall short, which Philbrick said will motivate staff to verify the signatures as quickly as possible. 

“I expect to roll through this pretty quickly,” he said.

Residents must collect between 300 and 500 valid signatures from registered Portland voters to be placed on the ballot.

Voters will be asked to rank their choices in order of preference, so if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, an instant run-off can take place until a winner emerges.

Duson, a 57-year-old Democrat, has served on the City Council since 2001. Her campaign theme is “Leading by Listening.” She believes Portland has been a “successful city in a challenging time.”

She believes her experience as an elected official — both on the council and School Board, and as the former state Director of Rehabilitation Services — makes her the best candidate for the the job.

Haadoow is 37-years-old and unenrolled in a political party. Haadoow emigrated to the U.S. from Somalia 10 years ago. Since then, he has opened two businesses: a transportation company and a small grocery store.

Haadoow, who is currently the assistant manager of Goodwill’s recycling and sustainability program, said he is running to unify city. He believes there are too many divisions between immigrants and natives, the homeless and the middle class, and Muslims and Christians.

Marshall, a 33-year-old Green-Independent who owns an art gallery on Congress Street, has served on the City Council since 2006.

But Marshall said he is anything but a status-quo candidate. Over the years, he said he has been working to change the way the city does business, especially in the areas of supporting the arts, environmental sustainability and transportation.

He is running a platform of bolstering green jobs, the creative economy and sustainable development.

Mavodones, a 51-year-old Democrat and longtime city councilor, is the operations manager of the Casco Bay Island Transit District. The former School Board member said he has  a track record of bring people together and focusing on economic development.

Mavodones, who opposed the creation of the popularly elected mayor position, said he is seeking the post because he believes the city is on the right track and can continue to prosper with only a few minor tweaks.

This is the second year in a row Mavodones has served as the council-selected mayor for the city.

Carmona, a 60-year-old Democrat, is new to the city, having moved here from California last August. The current vice chairman of the Portland Democratic Committee, his campaign theme is “Portland on the rise.”

Carmona, who is retired from the utilities industry, said he is passionate about civil rights. He said he could advocate for the city in Augusta, noting his past experience as a lobbyist for Bank of America.

Eder, a Green-Independent, and Bryant, a Democrat, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Other residents who have not turned in their nomination papers are: Republican Erick Bennett, Zouhair Bouzrara (unenrolled), Charles Bragdon (unenrolled), Democrat Michael Brennan, Republican Richard Dodge, Green Independent Nicholas Hall, Democrat Jodie Lapchick, Markos Miller (unenrolled), Democrat Jed Rathband, Democrat Paul Schafer, Democrat Ethan Strimling, Jay York (unenrolled) and Christopher Vail (unenrolled).

Residents have until Aug. 29 to turn in their petitions.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings