Portland Fair Rent referendum opponents raise nearly $270K

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PORTLAND — The campaign to defeat the Fair Rent referendum on the Nov. 7 ballot has crossed the quarter-million-dollar mark in fundraising.

Eleven-day campaign finance reports filed Oct. 27 at City Hall by all required candidates, political action committees and ballot question committees put Say No to Rent Control far in the fundraising lead.

From Oct. 1-24, the PAC reported raising $89,400 in cash and $7,800 in in-kind contributions as it fights Question 1. Say No to Rent Control reported raising $146,000 in cash and $26,000 in in-kind contributions in its October quarterly report dating to Sept. 30.

The PAC, which has raised a total of almost $270,000, reported a $113,300 cash balance as of Oct. 27.

In comparison, Fair Rent Portland, which supports Question 1, reported raising $2,600, with almost $1,800 in a loan from PAC leader Jack O’Brien.

Supporters of Question 2, which would amend city zoning, have not raised enough cash to require reporting as a PAC, but their opponents at OnePortland raised $58,000 and reported $31,000 already on hand.

Better Schools, Better Deal, formed in early October to advocate for a $32 million school bond to rebuild Lyseth and Presumpscot Elementary schools, raised $14,275, and reported spending more than $12,000.

For the reporting period, that put the PAC almost on par with Protect Our Neighborhood Schools, which advocates a $64 million bond to rebuild Longfellow, Reiche, Lyseth and Presumpscot Elementary schools.

Protect Our Neighborhood Schools reported raising more than $16,600 from Oct. 1-24. Through Sept. 30, the PAC reported more than $33,000 in contributions. In all PONS has raised more than $50,000. More than $26,000 of that sum, including a $1,024 loan that has been paid off, came to PONS from Progressive Portland. Additionally, the Maine Education Association has contributed $8,800, and the PAC for UA 716 Local Pipefitters & Plumbers union contributed $1,000.

In City Council races for an at-large seat and seats in Districts 4 and 5, at-large candidate Bree LaCasse continued to be the top fundraiser. Candidates have not been required to file reports since July 17, when LaCasse reported raising $19,200 up to June 30.

From July 1 to Oct. 24, LaCasse reported raising almost $24,000, and is carrying a $13,000 balance forward to the Nov. 7 election.

Incumbent Councilor Jill Duson raised what – absent LaCasse’s efforts – would be a city record, with more than $21,000 reported from July 1 to Oct. 24. Through June 30, she had reported $3,400 in contributions.

Joey Brunelle, who reported $5,800 in contributions in July, raised an additional $7,700 from July 1 to Oct. 24. While he trails the other at-large candidates, Brunelle has also raised more money than all but one candidate running in Districts 4 and 5.

Councilor Justin Costa, who is seeking his second term in District 4, reported raising $5,400 through Oct. 24, added to an existing balance of almost $1,900. Costa’s opponent, Kim Rich, reported $1,550 in contributions, about what she reported through June 30.

In District 5, where Councilor David Brenerman decided not to seek another term, candidate Kim Cook, Brenerman’s former campaign treasurer, raised $14,300 from July 1 to Oct. 24 and carried forward more than $3,200.

Marpheen Chann reported raising more than $3,600, with a cash balance of almost $1,100. Craig Dorais reported almost $550 in contributions to go with a $3,000 balance which was a loan he made to his campaign.

The story was corrected Nov. 2 to show PONS raised more than $16,600 cash from Oct. 1-24 and reported raising $33,000 through Sept. 30.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 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.