Brennan seeks re-election in Portland; Hinck backs Thibodeau for council

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PORTLAND — A week after Mayor Michael Brennan announced his re-election bid the rest of the field includes a couple of maybes and some definitely nots.

Brennan kicked off his re-election campaign June 3 with a press conference at Ocean Gateway Terminal, surrounded by family and supporters.

“I am so proud of the work that has happened over the past four years, but the job isn’t done,” he said, while noting improvements in the city’s educational, environmental and economic climates.

On June 4, District 3 Councilor Ed Suslovic painted a different picture. He said he is “seriously considering” running, after supporting Brennan in 2011.

“This past year has really uncovered some deep problems with the way we are operating in Portland,” Suslovic said, blaming Brennan for tension in the mayor’s relationship with the City Council and city staff.

Suslovic added he is concerned about the city’s financial outlook as it tries to fund social services and infrastructure improvements that require full annual funding of $19 million.

At-large City Councilor Jon Hinck, who has opposed city budgets because of increasing property tax rates, on June 3 said he is open to the idea of running.

“I’m certainly not gearing up to run for mayor, but I don’t want to be counted out,” Hinck said.

That leaves Michael Anthony, who is homeless, as Brennan’s only declared opponent.

Former District 4 Councilor Cheryl Leeman and former state Sen. Ethan Strimling both ruled out runs last week.

“I am humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from so many Portland residents,” Leeman,who served 30 years on the council and twice was mayor when the post was not popularly elected, said. “… Regrettably, I must decline.”

Leeman, however, offered advice to candidates. She said the next mayor must work harder on consensus and collaboration, while effectively prioritizing city needs and determining the best methods for administering the city General Assistance program.

Strimling, who finished second in the 2011 race, said “I really don’t have any plans to run. I am glad Michael Brennan is running and looking forward hearing what he has to say.”

Unusual endorsement

Hinck on June 2, meanwhile, raised eyebrows when he endorsed newcomer Spencer Thibodeau in City Council District 2.

“I just think Spencer offers a good new thoughtful approach,” he said later, noting they share common concerns about efficient municipal operations and the tax burden on residents.

District 2 Councilor David Marshall on June 4 said he has not decided whether to seek a fourth term, but criticized the endorsement.

“I wish people would finish policy matters before engaging in political gamesmanship,” Marshall said.

In District 1, Brandon Mazer, the corporation counsel at Shipyard Brewing, said Monday he has filed the paperwork to set up a campaign. Councilor Kevin Donoghue hasn’t announced if he will seek re-election in the district.

Homeless advocate Matthew Coffey has filed paperwork to set up a campaign for the at-large seat now held by Nick Mavodones Jr. Mavodones has not announced his intentions to run for re-election.

Nomination papers are available June 30 at City Hall and must be returned no later than Aug. 25.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Sidebar Elements

Portland Mayor Michael Brennan announces his re-election bid June 3 at Ocean Gateway Terminal.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.