Portland, Maine City Council

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City Hall in September 2011

The Portland, Maine City Council is the legislative branch of government for the city of Portland, Maine. It is a nine seat council, composed of representatives from the city's five districts, three councilors elected citywide and the full-time elected Mayor of Portland. The eight councilors are elected for three-year terms, while the Mayor is elected for a four-year term.

The Council is officially non-partisan, though councilors are often known for their political party affiliation.

In 1923, the system was changed from a strong mayor system to a weak, largely ceremonial mayor position due to the influence of the Maine Ku Klux Klan, which resented the perceived growing political power of ethnic and religious minorities.[1] This was reversed after the mayoral election of 2011.

The Portland City Council meets at Portland City Hall, an historic 1909 building on Congress Street.

Current Councilors (2015-2016)[edit]

  1. Mayor: Ethan Strimling, Democrat, elected in 2015 election (since 2015)
  2. District 1: Belinda Ray, Democrat (since 2015)
  3. District 2: Spencer Thibodeau, Democrat (since 2015)
  4. District 3: Brian Batson, Democrat (since 2016)
  5. District 4: Justin Costa, Democrat (since 2014)
  6. District 5: Kim Cook, Democrat (since 2017)
  7. At-Large: Pious Ali (since 2016)
  8. At-Large: Jill Duson, Democrat (since 2001)[2]
  9. At-Large: Nicholas Mavodones, Democrat (since 1997)[3]

Mayor (at-large): Ethan Strimling[edit]

Ethan Strimling is a former State Senator and Executive Director of LearningWorks, a non-profit organization in Portland's West End neighborhood. Strimling was elected mayor in 2015 against incumbent Michael F. Brennan and Green Party member Tom MacMillan. Strimling had previously run unsuccessfully for mayor in the 2011 contest, finishing second to Brennan.

District 1: Belinda Ray[edit]

Belinda Ray was elected in 2015 to represent District 1 following the retirement of Kevin Donoghue. Ray is a resident of Portland's East Bayside neighborhood, having lived there since 2004. She helped found the East Bayside Neighborhood Organization (EBNO), and served sequentially as Vice President, President, and Community Organizer of EBNO.[4] Ray was elected to succeed Donoghue as the District 1 councilor in a five-way race in which she garnered 39% of the vote.[5]

District 2: Spencer Thibodeau[edit]

Spencer Thibodeau (born March 18, 1988) is a real estate attorney and native of Portland, who was elected in 2015 to represent District 2 following the retirement of David Marshall.

District 3: Brian Batson[edit]

Brian Batson is a nurse at Maine Medical Center. He was elected to represent District 3 in 2016, beating long-time incumbent Edward Suslovic.

District 4: Justin Costa[edit]

Justin Costa was first elected to the City Council in 2014, when Cheryl Leeman retired. Leeman held the seat from 1984 to 2014. A Democrat, Costa had run for the Maine House of Representatives and been twice elected to the School Board prior to being elected to the City Council.

District 5: Kim Cook[edit]

In November 2017, Cook defeated Marpheen Chann and Craig Dorais for the open District 5 seat following the retirement of David Brenerman.

At-Large: Pious Ali[edit]

Elected to the council in 2016 after serving one term (3 years) on the City's Board of Public Education 2013-2016. Ali works at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service He is an alumnus of the Institute for Civic Leadership (now known as Lift360), and in 2015, was named Lift360’s Most Distinguished Alumnus. A native of Ghana, Ali immigrated to the United States in 2000. and has lived in Portland since 2008.

At-Large: Jill Duson[edit]

Jill Duson (born 1953) is serving her 4th term on the City Council. She was first elected in 2001 after serving a term on the School Committee from 1998 to 2001. She holds a B.A. from Antioch College, a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a certificate in Senior Executive in State & Local Government from Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government. She served as Director of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services for State of Maine and as a seasonal employee for L.L. Bean.[6] She resides in the North Deering neighborhood.[7] Duson won re-election in November 2013 over challengers Gregory Smaha and Christopher Shorr.

At-Large: Nick Mavodones[edit]


  1. ^ Peck, Abraham. "Maine Voices: Why Portland doesn't have an elected mayor". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  2. ^ Singer, Jason (October 27, 2011). "Jill Duson: Strong resume, plus life experience". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  3. ^ Singer, Jason (October 27, 2011). "Nicholas Mavodones: Ready for chance to build on his record". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  4. ^ "Vote Belinda Ray - Campaign Website". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  5. ^ "Mavodones re-elected to Portland Council, joined by Ray and Thibodeau". Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  6. ^ Billings, Randy (October 25, 2011). "Portland's mayoral candidates (at least some of them) rank each other". The Forecaster. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  7. ^ Singer, Jason (October 27, 2011). "Jill Duson: Strong resume, plus life experience". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 15 July 2013.

External links[edit]