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Portland city manager talks top priorities as she starts the job

Danielle West is the first woman to hold the role of Portland city manager.

PORTLAND, Maine — For the first time, a woman is now serving as Portland's city manager. Danielle West was officially appointed to the role on Monday.

"I think a lot about how I don’t want to be the last," West told NEWS CENTER Maine. "I'm really focused on doing as good of a job as I can to really address all the various things that are pending before the city." 

There are a lot of significant issues, among them, the asylum seeker crisis. 

"We’ve reached capacity," West said. "We have no more room to stretch."

The city had planned for a 280-bed shelter at a property on Blueberry Road in Portland to house asylum seekers as soon as this summer, but that plan could be falling through. West said this concerns her. 

"Developers Collaborative Kevin Bunker is working on that project and he’s very creative and he’s looking at, I believe, other locations and potentially trying to find other ways to make it work," West explained about the property. "I'm really hopeful that will happen."

Another pressing matter for West is a city staffing shortage. There are about 250 vacancies. Some are leadership positions. By filling them, West hopes it will make it easier to fill other jobs.

“We’re also going to be working with a facilitator to help us think creatively,” she added. 

Portland is also facing a homeless crisis with hundreds of people having nowhere to go.

Around eight million dollars, the most ever, has been put into the Housing Trust Fund, to go toward a variety of housing projects, according to West. 

“I’m hopeful we’ll really be able to attack this, but this is an issue I think we’ll be dealing with for a while,” West said. 

As she faces these tough issues, West said helping her through all of this are her two children.

“A great support system for me and so I’m cognisant of it all the time and very appreciative of them for all their love and support."

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