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Here's a closer look at the Portland Charter Commission proposals

Portland voters will see eight ballot questions this November with recommended changes to the city charter.

PORTLAND, Maine — When Portland voters head to the polls this November, they'll see 13 different ballot questions. While several of the questions are citizen-initiated referendums, eight were proposed by the Portland Charter Commission.

"I believe all of our eight proposals will increase the legitimacy of city hall," Charter Commission Chair Michael Kebede said.

Commissioners worked from the summer of 2021 to this summer deliberating and proposing changes to the city's governing document. Ultimately, the commission's final report consists of 236 pages of analysis and recommendations.

From that final report, commissioners have proposed eight questions for residents to vote on this year.

"We believe that all of these proposals will end with a city where the voters are closer to the nexus of power," Commissioner Pat Washburn said. 

Questions focus on several different topics. 

Question 1 asks to amend the preamble of the city charter and include a land acknowledgement, honoring Indigenous peoples.

Question 2 looks to strengthen the role of the mayor as the city’s chief executive, and replace the city manager with the less powerful position of chief administrator. It also would increase the number of city councilors to 12 and school board members to nine.

Questions 3 would create a publicly funded Clean Elections program in the city, and ban corporate contributions to candidates along with certain foreign contributions to ballot questions. 

Question 4 would authorize the city to use a proportional ranked-choice voting method for elections where more than one person is being elected to a single seat, like races with multiple at-large seats available.

Question 5 looks to change the school budget adoption process, by eliminating city council approval of the school budget, and sending it to voters after school board approval.

Question 6 would establish the Peaks Island Advisory Council as an elected advisory board to the city council.

Question 7 asks voters to establish a funded, independent Citizen Police Oversight Board to replace the current Police Review Board. 

Question 8 would require the council to establish a code of ethics and an Ethics Commission. 

You can read the Charter Commission's detailed explanation of the ballot questions here, and also see a sample ballot to know how the questions will look when you head to the polls. 

RELATED: Portland mayor will not seek re-election in 2023

Of all the changes proposed by the Charter Commission, Question 2 has faced the most criticism.

"It would dramatically strengthen the mayor's ability to control all aspects of city governance, that mean's everyone's going to have to go through the mayor," former Portland Mayor and U.S. Representative Tom Allen said. 

Allen, and more than a dozen other former mayors have launched the Protect Portland's Future group to advocate for residents to reject the Charter Commission proposals. 

"Question 2 and Question 5, we think would have dramatic, detrimental effects to the City of Portland," Allen said. 

Commissioners are pushing back however, and argue that checks and balances in place for an executive mayor will give a stronger say for voters, while also keeping mayoral actions in check.

"We believe that all of these proposals will end with a city where the voters are closer to the nexus of power," Commissioner Pat Washburn said. 

Commissioners are also hoping their clean elections proposal will allow for a wider variety of candidates that are more representative of the Portland population.

"It would take down the dollar amounts of our election, to make sure that when we're campaigning, we're not just talking to the people, we not just talking to the people who are funding our campaigns, we're talking to everybody," Commissioner Catherine Buxton said.

You can request an absentee ballot, and find your local polling place by visiting the City of Portland's website.

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