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Justin Alfond

Portland Mayor: Let's Talk About Money

Charles Carpenter is an interesting guy. His company, Historic Map Works, is kind of the historic Google Earth. He started a foundation that builds playgrounds for kids in Afghanistan, Haiti, and Somalia. He lives in a spacious loft whose finer amenities include views of Casco Bay, a tubular elevator to a music room, rare 15th century copies of Aristotle, and a nearly two-story pulpit from a gothic church. But I didn't show up at his loft because I was writing for Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors—I met him because I heard he was running for mayor.

It turns out that he's not an official candidate yet.

"I'm still thinking about it," Carpenter said. "I'm opinionated. If I ran, I recognize I couldn't win because I'm not politically correct."

What do you mean? What's politically incorrect about you?

"Portland can have more economic growth if it's a desirable place for more middle class people to live an work," he said. "That's difficult because of the congregation of social services right in our downtown. Much of Congress Street is slated as non-market rate housing. We can't have an economically viable city if the buildings are non-market rate." He went on to express frustration at seeing so many people being let out on to the streets by social service agencies downtown. "It doesn't work to take hundreds of dysfunctional people and turn them out on the streets every day." Read more »

Democratic Party Chair: Then There Were Three

On Sunday, January 23rd, Democrats from around the state will gather in Augusta to select a new Chair of the Maine Democratic Party. Over the past few weeks, the field of candidates has been whittled down to three. Some Party insiders have told me, however, that one candidate, Ben Grant, has the votes in place to win and will become the next Chair of the Maine Democratic Party. (You heard it at mainepolitics.net first!)

The Chair is a critical role for the Party in terms of fundraising, campaign development, candidate recruitment, and above all, a vision for the beleaguered Democrats. One high-ranking Democratic Party official told me that the Party is still haunted by the friction created among leaders during the Obama vs. Hillary primaries. Throw on top of that the absolute shellacking the Democrats took in November and you have a Party in modest disrepair, at best.

The new Chair will likely need to address the fallout created by the anti-Cutler mailers the Party sent out during the last election, mailers that some found offensive and/or xenophobic. I was volunteering my time during the final days of the campaign at the Dem Party HQ in Augusta and was tasked with answering the phone the day the mailers started to hit mailboxes. It wasn’t a pleasant assignment. Read more »