Charter panel to discuss elected mayor for Portland

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PORTLAND — The main issue the city’s Charter Commission is expected to grapple with in the coming year will be the subject of a panel discussion Monday, Oct. 26.

Whether Portland should have an elected mayor was the driving force behind the commission being established. Under the existing charter, a member of the City Council is appointed by fellow councilors to serve as mayor for a one-year term.

The mayor acts as a chairman during council meetings, but the post is largely ceremonial, serving as a city representative at events and speaking engagements.

The 12-member Charter Commission was established by voters in June. It has set up several subcommittees, one of which is studying the mayor issue. The commission is expected not only to recommend whether the city should switch to an elected mayor, but how much power the position should have.

The public panel discussion will include James Bennett, former Lewiston city manager; Tim Honey, former Portland city manager; John Jenkins, the current mayor of Auburn and former Lewiston mayor, and Nashua, N.H., Mayor Donnalee Lozeau.

The panel members are expected to offer advice based on their experiences. There will also be time for comments and questions from the public.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Portland High School Auditorium. Public comments and questions will be invited from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by a discussion between the panelists and charter commissioners from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or