The chance to be the city’s first elected mayor in generations is attracting a long list of candidates who also will have the distinction of being the first Maine politicians content to be a voter’s second or third choice, thanks to ranked-choice voting. Ten candidates have registered with the city so far, meaning they are free to raise money and build a campaign organization.
The ballot is expected to get even more crowded in the coming weeks, with candidates attracted by the full-time job — it will pay about $66,000 a year — the four-year term, some limited powers and the ability to set precedents.
“We’re looking for our George Washington, someone who can take the position and transform it,” said Jim Cohen, a former councilor and mayor who was on the charter commission that drafted the rules making the mayor position subject to ranked-choice voting. Voters ratified the charter in November.
Cohen said supporters believe an elected mayor is needed to provide leadership and establish a long-range vision for the city. Currently, mayors are city councilors who are chosen by their peers and hold the largely ceremonial post for one year.
Cohen is now involved in a group called Portland Tomorrow, whose members have developed a list of criteria they’d like to see in a mayor. Cohen reiterated that he’s not running. The organization also plans to publicize the ranked-choice election method, under which voters will mark their ballots not only for the candidate they’d like to see win, but also rank the rest in order of preference.
Full Article: Ranked-choice balloting is wild card in mayor’s race | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.