Portland's mayoral candidates (at least some of them) rank each other

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PORTLAND — One question in our series of interviews with the city’s mayoral candidates proved to be the most difficult for many of the candidates – especially the perceived front-runners.

We asked them who they will rank as their second, third and fourth choices on their own ballots.

Portland’s mayor will be chosen through ranked-choice, or instant-runoff voting. Some analysts say that coalition building and message echoing can help candidates win the election, because in a field of 15 candidates, the winner will likely have to win over supporters of other candidates.

Here are brief biographies of the candidates and how they responded to being asked who they would vote for, besides themselves, on Nov. 8.

Charles Bragdon

Bragdon is a 43-year-old former taxi driver who now publishes the online Portland Maine Gazette. He lives at 31 Munjoy South on Munjoy Hill. He is not enrolled in a political party.

Bragdon said he intends to rank five candidates on his ballot, in this order: himself, Peter Bryant, Christopher Vail, Markos Miller and Nicholas Mavodones Jr. But he declined to explain why.

Michael Brennan

Brennan is a 58-year-old policy associate at the Muskie School of Public Service at USM. He lives at 49 Wellington Road in the Back Cove neighborhood. The Democrat was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1992 and to the Senate in 2002. He was Senate majority leader in 2004.

Brennan said he plans on ranking all of the candidates, but hasn’t decided on the order. He said revealing that could make it awkward to participate in upcoming candidate forums.

Peter Bryant

Bryant is a 68-year-old retired merchant marine. The Democrat lives in Unit 18 of the Back Cove Estates in the Ocean Avenue-East Deering neighborhoods.

After marking himself first on the ballot, Bryant said Bragdon and Carmona would likely be his second and third choices, with Vail coming in a close fourth. He said he likes Bragdon (whom he calls “Charlie”) because “words roll right off his tongue”; Carmona (whom he calls “Ralphie”) is “almost as good.” 

Ralph Carmona

Carmona is a 60-year-old Democrat who has lived in Portland for about a year at 105 North St. No. 1 on Munjoy Hill. He has held public affairs posts at Bank of America and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and taught at American River College.

Carmona said he hasn’t made up his mind about who else he will rank, or how deep into the ballot he’ll go. “I just haven’t thought about it,” he said. “There’s still a lot to go in this campaign.”

Richard Dodge

Dodge is a 59-year-old Republican who works as a real estate broker at Balfour Commercial and owns Sam’s Great Northern Lobster Bakes. He lives at 1281 Forest Ave.

Dodge said he is inclined to pick Brennan as his second choice – but wishes Brennan had a stronger message about creating jobs. He said Brennan is strong on educational issues, but needs to focus more on the economy. 

That said, Dodge said he will likely just vote for himself. “I think it would be hypocritical if I voted for someone who didn’t believe as I did,” he said.

Jill Duson

Duson is a 57-year-old Democrat who served a term on the School Board before winning four consecutive elections as an at-large city councilor. The former director of the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services is now a seasonal employee at L.L. Bean in Freeport. She lives in North Deering at 101 Pennell Ave.

Duson said she’d probably rank three to five other candidates. But she wouldn’t say who, to maintain her privacy.

“I’m not interested in endorsing other candidates,” Duson said. “I think I’m the best person for the job.”

John Eder

Eder is a 42-year-old Green Independent who served two terms in the state House of Representatives. He is currently a student at Southern Maine Community College and is an activist and community organizer. He lives in the West End at 101 Gray St.

Eder said he hasn’t decided who he may vote for besides himself. No other candidate completely shares his issues and positions, he said, which is why he got into the race. Before deciding on rankings, he said he needs to have some “candid conversations” with other candidates.

“I need to have those conversations,” Eder said. “I haven’t had them yet.”

Hamza Haadoow

Haadoow is 37-year-old Somali immigrant who started a transportation company and a grocery store. The Democrat is currently assistant sustainability and recycling manager for Goodwill Industries of Northern New England. He lives at 1 Coast Lane.

Haadoow did not respond to an email or phone calls seeking comment.

Jodie Lapchick

Lapchick is a 49-year-old Democrat who works as an independent marketing strategist. She lives in the West End at 7 Cushman St.

Lapchick said it’s difficult to decide who to vote for because she knows all of the candidates so well. When pressed, she said Eder and Miller are on her short list for second and third, while Mavodones, Duson and Rathband are on her “maybe short list.”

David Marshall

Marshall is a 33-year-old Green Independent who is serving his second term as the District 2 city councilor. He is an artist, small business owner and property manager who lives in the West End at 41 Pine St.

Marshall said he is still open to forming a coalition with other candidates, but he wouldn’t say who those candidates might be. Besides common views on the issues, he said the most important factor to any coalition is positive, not negative, campaigning.

“We’ll see the true colors of the candidates in the final weeks of this campaign,” he said. “Some candidates who I originally thought could be part of a coalition started to go negative. That’s not really a dynamic I want to be part of.”

Nicholas Mavodones Jr.

Mavodones is a 51-year-old Democrat who has served two terms on the School Board and nearly five terms on the City Council, including four stints as mayor. He is the operations manager at Casco Bay Lines and lives in the Back Cove at 79 Chenery St.

Mavodones said he isn’t sure how he will rank the candidates, but said he’d look for someone with experience, who doesn’t rush to judgment, is committed to Portland and not interested in using the mayor’s job as a political stepping stone.

Markos Miller

Miller is a 43-year-old Spanish teacher at Deering High School who has been involved in community planning for the former Adams School, Franklin Street and Bayside. He lives on Munjoy Hill at 17 Atlantic St. and is not enrolled in a political party.

After himself, Miller said he has been impressed by Vail, “a new face who brings a really good perspective and strong voice” to the campaign. He said he also tips his hat to Eder, Marshall and Rathband for wanting a forward-thinking, proactive City Hall, while understanding the importance of the local and creative economies.

Jed Rathband

Rathband is a 39-year-old consultant whose firm was hired last year to promote the City Charter changes that led to the decision to have an elected mayor. The Democrat lives in Bayside at 9 Everett St.

Rathband said when voters supported the elected mayor they voted for new leadership. So, in no particular order, he said he would rank Marshall, Miller and Vail, because “they represent the new leadership the city desperately needs. They’re not beholding to the same old system.”

Ethan Strimling

Strimling is a 43-year-old Democrat who served three terms in the state Senate. He is the chief executive officer of LearningWorks and lives in the West End at 211 Spring St.

Strimling said he’d rank candidates based on their how effective they can be at bringing new leadership to City Hall, although he said he hadn’t thought about it enough to name names. When pressed, he said, “Even if my wife was asking me in the middle of the night – I haven’t made up my mind.”

Christopher Vail

Vail is a 39-year-old firefighter who is not enrolled in a political party. The Peaks Island native now lives in North Deering at 1119 Washington Ave. 

After putting his name first, Vail said he plans on ranking the candidates in reverse order. At the bottom, he said, would be those with political experience who may view the mayor a political stepping stone: Brennan, Strimling, Mavodones, Duson and Marshall. 

He said Rathband would be near the bottom because he aspires to be like established politicians. Eder has good ideas, he said, but is too agenda driven. Carmona, meanwhile, has been in Portland “like a half hour,” he said.

He said other outsiders bring a good voice to the campaign, but lack an eye for the big picture. In the end, Vail had no criticism for Miller, a fellow city employee.

“I like Markos,” he said.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings

Sidebar Elements

Michael BrennanPeter Bryant.Ralph CarmonaRichard Dodge.Portland City Councilor Jill Duson.John EderHamza HaadoowJodie LapchickCity Councilor David MarshallCity Councilor Nick MavodonesMarkos MillerJed RathbandEthan StrimlingChris Vail