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Portland to determine if city government will restructure in November vote

The eight ballot questions crafted by the Portland Charter Commission will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

PORTLAND, Maine — Voters in Portland can officially expect a long list of questions on the ballot in November that could restructure the city's government. 

The Portland City Council unanimously approved sending the questions, crafted by the Portland Charter Commission, to voters Thursday night. 

A total of eight questions will be on the ballot on November 8th centered on everything from clean elections to a citizen police review board. 

All of the questions come after months of work by the Portland Charter Commission that wrapped up back in July.

RELATED: Ballot Question Committee opposes every Portland referendum question

The biggest and most controversial question proposes a significant shift in power from the city manager to the mayor. It places more responsibilities on the mayor, including coordinating the city's budget and hiring city staff.

The proposal has faced strong backlash from both the current mayor, Kate Snyder, and previous mayors of the city.

"My concern is that the proposals of the Charter Commission are attempted revolution in Portland city government, by abandoning the councilor form of government in favor of a strong mayor form of government," former mayor Tom Allen said.

Allen was one of only a handful of people in attendance at Thursday's meetings to voice their concerns a final time.

Michael Kebede, who chaired the commission, said that the proposed changes had overwhelming support by all of its members.

RELATED: Portland councilors send $18 minimum wage, short-term rental limits, and other initiatives to voters

"Democracy is in retreat. It's in retreat globally, according to Freedom House, an organization that makes it its jobs to collect statistics about this," he said.
"It's in retreat nationally, as evidenced by an anti-majoritarian United States Supreme Court that goes against the will of the majority of people in this country. It's against this backdrop that we've offered eight reforms that we believe will strengthen democracy in Portland."

With Election Day just under ten weeks away, ballots are not available until October. Voters can request absentee ballots on the Secretary of State's website.

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