Portland Charter Commission election attracts crowd of potential candidates

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PORTLAND — City residents are mobilizing to be candidates in the June 9 Charter Commission election.
Twenty people have taken out nomination papers for the 12-member commission since papers became available Feb. 6 . The commission has the same structure as the City Council, so there will be a representative from each of the five city districts and four at-large members. Three council-appointed representatives will also serve on the commission.
The council appointees are Naomi Mermin, Pamela Plumb and Thomas Valieau. They were appointed in December, because state law requires that the city make its appointments within 30 days of the passage of the referendum establishing the Charter Commission.
Along with suggesting changes to bring the charter in line with technical and compliance issues that have changed in the more than 20 years since the charter was last reviewed and updated, the commission is also expected to look into adjustments that could change how the schools are governed and regional collaboration policies.
The biggest issue the commission will tackle is whether Portland should have an elected mayor. That was the driving force behind the commission referendum last November. Currently, one of the nine city councilors is selected by the rest of the council to serve as mayor for a one year term. The position is largely ceremonial, although the mayor serves as chairman of the council.
Potential candidates have until April 6 to obtain nomination papers from the city clerk’s office. To qualify as district candidates, residents must have lived in their district for three months prior to filing papers, and must collect a minimum of 75 signatures and a maximum of 150.
For the at-large seats, candidates must have lived in the city for three months and must collect a minimum of 300 and a maximum of 500 signatures.
Papers can be returned in to the clerk as early as March 23. The deadline is April 6 at 4:30 p.m.
As of the beginning of Monday, these residents had taken out papers:
• District 1, Christine Feller of Morning Street and Benson Monaghan of Melbourne Street.
• District 2, Matthew Sinclair of Brackett Street, Daniel Jenkins of Grant Street, Winter Street resident Kirk Goodhue and School Committee member Robert O’Brien of West Street.
• District 3, Joseph Malone of Highland Street, Planning Board Chairman David Silk of Westbrook Street and Glenwood Avenue resident Scott Elliot.
• District 4, Kimberly Rich of Copley Woods Circle, John Spritz of Chenery Street and council watchdog Steven Scharf of Veranda Street.
• District 5, Peter Rickett of Quiet Lane.
The four at-large seats have attracted seven potential candidates so far, including Paul Farrell of Monument Street, former Mayor James Cohen of Deepwood Drive, Madeleine Segal of Fall Lane, Saint Lawrence Street resident Thomas Elliman, former Mayor Nathan Smith of Capisic Street, Vaughan Street resident James Gooch and Anna Trevorrow of Congress Street.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net.