Portland City Council: Former councilor versus political newcomer in District 3

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PORTLAND — When District 3 voters head to the polls Nov. 2 to elect a city councilor, both names on the ballot are likely to sound familiar.

Edward Suslovic, a former at-large councilor who lost a re-election bid two years ago, will compete against Will Mitchell for the seat being vacated by Councilor Dan Skolnik.

Suslovic also served a term in the Maine House of Representatives. While Mitchell is a political newcomer, his family has been involved in Maine politics for decades. His mother, Elizabeth Mitchell, is the Democratic candidate for governor.

District 3 voters should also note that Skolnik is a write-in candidate for one of the at-large council seats on the ballot.

Will Mitchell

Mitchell, 40, is an Orland Street resident and runs NBT Solutions, a mapping and geographic technology firm. He is married to Laurie Jones Mitchell and has two school-age children.

Mitchell said he has been following neighborhood projects closely, including the construction near Capisic Pond Park and concerns that the park be put back together following completion of the work.

“The neighbors would like to see the pond restored as well,” Mitchell said. “I want to pay attention to that.”

Another neighborhood project Mitchell said he is interested in shepherding is the renovation of Doherty Field. He said improvements there will benefit not only neighbors, but all city residents by increasing the number and quality of playing fields.

Mitchell, a graduate of Georgetown University and George Mason University, said he also sees Thompson’s Point as a site with immense development potential.

“I would want to be right on top of that as a district councilor,” he said. City-wide, commercial redevelopment in Bayside is also a high priority, he said.

“Development there would alleviate property taxes on District 3 taxpayers,” Mitchell said.

He also said he favors more flexibility when it comes to uses allowed in the Waterfront Central Zone.

Mitchell, who volunteers as a soccer coach and in the schools, said he will vote in favor of having an elected mayor and to let non-citizens vote in local elections.

He said he believes his experience running a business can help the city when it comes to budgeting and finances, and he would use his technology skills to upgrade the city website.

Edward Suslovic

Suslovic, 50, lives on Kenwood Street and is an independent community development consultant. He is married to Jennifer Southard and has three children in high school and middle school.

Suslovic said important projects in the district include making sure Capisic Pond Park is re-landscaped after construction is finished there, resurrecting the Outer Congress Street Traffic Study that was completed a few years ago and reuse of Clifford School.

The traffic study, he said, has languished despite requiring minimal work to accomplish its recommendations.

“It involves mainly re-striping, ” Suslovic said.

The former councilor said he is also working hard with neighbors to find a reuse for the Clifford School, which is scheduled to close when the new Ocean Avenue Elementary School opens next year.

“It is very important that we keep that building as a public use,” said Suslovic, whose volunteer work includes Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence, the United Way Public Policy Committee and the Cumberland County Emergency Food and Shelter Board.

A Wesleyan University graduate, he said that during the next three years the city will continue to see increasingly difficult financial challenges. He said his experience at the local and state levels of government will give a “leg up” to the city when it comes to budgeting.

Suslovic said he favors some change in the Waterfront Central Zone to account for groundfishing losses, but does not favor allowing hotels (which are not included in the proposed changes) or other non-marine businesses on the piers.

He does not support allowing non-citizen voting. He does support an elected mayor and said that when he was mayor (in 2008) he led the effort to create a Charter Review Commission.

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

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