Strimling sweeps out Brennan to become Portland's mayor

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PORTLAND — The mayoral rematch was not even close.

Former state Sen. Ethan Strimling reversed his 2011 fortunes Tuesday by handily defeating incumbent Mayor Michael Brennan in a race that did not require a runoff, let alone the numerous tallies that settled the last mayoral election.

Strimling won 51 percent of the vote, while also defeating challenger Tom MacMillan. Strimling received 9,162 votes, Brennan 6,882 and MacMillan 1,880.

Winning an outright majority did not surprise Strimling.

“We set out from the beginning to build as broad a coalition as possible to do the transformative work the city needs,” he said Tuesday night.

Brennan said despite the loss, he was proud of what had been accomplished during his tenure.

“Obviously I was hopeful there would be another outcome, but I believe the city is better off than it was four years ago,” he said.

MacMillan, the chairman of the Portland Green Independent Committee, said his showing is an indication of growing momentum for his party’s message.

“I was able to get a huge chunk of voters in Portland to hear my message,” he said, despite a lack of funding for advertising. “Candidates like myself, we have to organize and build a movement from below.”

The race – which Strimling did not enter until the end of August, more than two months after Brennan announced his re-election bid – centered around leadership styles.

Strimling cast himself as the candidate to unite the City Council, businesses and residents. Brennan said his actions were based on the desires of voters expressed in 2011, when he defeated Strimling by 840 votes. MacMillan said he was the voice for those who have been left behind by city leaders.

Brennan said the campaign became more about who was getting endorsements, which Strimling gathered quickly. A day after he announced his candidacy, four city councilors and seven School Board members gave him their support.

Ultimately, city unions, Sudanese immigrants and the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce endorsed him, too.

“I was frustrated I didn’t get to articulate what I had accomplished and what I wanted to achieve in a new term,” Brennan said.

Strimling said he wanted a bold approach to running.

“We were running this campaign from start to finish without hesitation,” he said.

Strimling enjoyed a commanding advantage in fundraising, raising $100,400 by Oct. 23. That more than doubled the $48,800 Brennan reported.

As Strimling and Brennan headed into the last weekend of the campaign, 24-hour spending reports showed Strimling spent $15,500 for media buys and video and commercial production, plus $9,200 for direct mailings.

Brennan spent $6,200 for media buys and ad productions and $1,050 for a direct mailing, while also loaning himself $3,000 for the campaign.

After promising to listen to all constituencies as he ran, Strimling said there will be more of the same in the weeks before he takes office Dec. 7.

“The first order of business is to talk to councilors and understand what their hopes are,” he said.

While he anticipated a majority vote, Strimling said he was impressed and grateful to get it.

“It is the breadth of the support,” he said. “It says there is incredible responsibility in what we do now.”

Uncontested races

Uncontested candidates on Tuesday won three Peaks Island Council seats, two seats on the Casco Bay Lines Board of Directors, and a seat as a Portland Water District trustee.

On Peaks Island, Council Chairwoman Mary Anne Mitchell, of 31 Sterling St., and Sidney Girard, of 51 Prince Ave., each won three-year terms. Incumbent Howard Pedliken, of 118 Hussey Ave., will return after winning a one-year term.

CBL board members Dan Doane, of 364 Island Ave., and Robin Clark, of 2 Welch St., won new three-year terms. Doane will serve Peaks Island and Clark as an at-large board member.

Kenneth Levinsky, of 37 Hamblet Ave., won re-election to a five-year term as trustee on the PWD.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Mayor Michael Brennan, center, speaks with Councilor David Brenerman and School Board member Laurie Davis in Sonny’s Restaurant on Exchange Street on Tuesday after his defeat by Ethan Strimling

Ethan Strimling, right, speaks with voters Tuesday outside the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Allen Avenue. Strimlng defeated incumbent Mayor Michael Brennan and Tom MacMillan in the mayoral race.

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.