PORTLAND, Maine — This November, voters in Maine's largest city will decide who will become the next mayor. For the past couple of election cycles, the position has been an elected one, with more executive power than before.
"I think this election is a very telling one, this is only the third or fourth cycle we've had with an elected mayor," Herb Adams, a former state representative and current professor at Southern Maine Community College, said. "Since the mayor is going to be the person at the wheel, citizens really do care and will take interest in it."
There are five candidates set to be on the ballot:
- Andrew Zarro, current city councilor,
- Pious Ali, current city councilor,
- Mark Dion, current city councilor,
- Justin Costa, former city councilor,
- Dylan Pugh, political newcomer.
All five are set to take part in the Portland Public Library debate set for Wednesday, September 20.
Adams, who is moderating the debate, said questions and topics asked of each candidate have already been determined and they range from homelessness to drugs and from housing affordability to the rise in neo-Nazis.
"We've never had to face some of the issues as a city as we will now," Adams said. "Citizens and city council are going to have a full plate in front of them as soon as they are sworn in in December."
Cliff Gallant, who helped schedule the debate with Adams, said one of the biggest issues the new mayor will have to tackle is homelessness.
"People at the moment around the city are dissatisfied with the way the city has handled the homelessness situation... the sweeps have not been performed in a considerable manner," Gallant said. "The people in authority tend to have good intentions but people just don't know how to progress with it."
Gallant said he hopes the debate brings the mayoral election into household conversations.
"I hope people come away with a more solid idea of who they want as a city mayor who has the experience, who has the dedication," Gallant said.
The debate will take place at the Portland Public Library downtown and the Rines Auditorium. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and will last until 8:30 p.m.