Portland ballot features 2 referendum questions, island elections

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PORTLAND — City voters will decide two referendum questions, a race for Portland Water District trustee and several island elections Nov. 6.

Question 1 asks if the School Department should enter into the new regional Greater Sebago Education Alliance.

Question 2, a charter amendment, would require municipal candidates to file campaign spending reports 42 days before an election, beginning in 2019.

Incumbent PWD Trustee Kim Rich, who won a five-month term in June, is being challenged for a full five-year term by Wayne Olson.

On Peaks Island, where two, three-year terms on the island council are open, Andrea Kelly-Rosenberg is on the ballot and Devon Kraft is running a write-in campaign.

In Council District 1, Hanover Street resident George Rheault is also running a write-in campaign to unseat incumbent Councilor Belinda Ray. Ray faces a challenge on the ballot from Matt Coffey.

There are five seats on the Casco Bay Lines Board of Directors on the ballot, four carrying three-year terms. The fifth carries a two-year term to serve Great Diamond Island.

James Luedke, of Great Diamond Island; at-large member Robyn Clark; Bill Overlock, of Long Island; and Dan Doane, of Peaks Island are all incumbents. Chebeague Island candidate Polly Wentworth is running to replace incumbent Peter Pellerin, whose name is not on the ballot.

The Peaks Island Council and CBL trustee votes are not citywide.

The Question 2 charter change would match state campaign finance 42-day reporting requirements for individual legislative campaigns.

Ray proposed the charter change, which was placed on the ballot by a unanimous council vote and has been supported by all six council candidates this year.

Ray said the change was needed as voters begin casting absentee ballots before the currently required 11-day reporting deadline, meaning they do not know how much candidates have raised and where the financial support comes from.

Individual campaigns have gotten more expensive in Portland since 2015. That year, Mayor Ethan Strimling raised more than $100,000 for his campaign, which began in late August.

In the District 1 City Council race won by Ray that year, candidate Brandon Mazer raised more than $15,000. In the District 2 race, Councilor Spencer Thibodeau also raised more than $15,000.

In 2016, Councilor Pious Ali had raised $15,000 by June 30. Last year, at-large candidate Bree LaCasse raised more than $50,000 in her run against at-large candidate Jill Duson. Duson raised $30,000 in her successful run.

The pace of previous elections has not been matched this year. Of candidates required to file July 16 quarterly reports, Thibodeau’s showed he had raised $8,100. Ray had raised $2,300, and at-large challenger Joey Brunelle had raised $1,600.

Last month, Transparency Portland, organized by Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, asked municipal candidates to self-report finances at what would be the 42-day deadline.

Ray, who in July said she would cap her fundraising at $6,500, reported raising $2,500 from July 1 to Sept. 18. Brunelle reported raising $2,500. District 2 challenger Jon Torsch reported raising $1,200.

Thibodeau did not reply. Nor did Councilor Nick Mavodones, who is being challenged by Brunelle. In winning his seat for a seventh time in 2015, Mavodones did not cross the $500 threshold requiring spending reports.

Mavodones has received $7,300 in support that is independent of his own reporting. The money has come from the National Association of Realtors in Chicago and was reported to the state Ethics Commission on Oct. 3. Of the funding, $7,000 was spent on digital ads and the remainder on polling.

Matt Coffey, who is challenging Ray, also did not report any campaign finance spending for the Transparency Project last month.

David Harry can be reached at 780-9092 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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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.