The four candidates vying for general seat on Portland City Council in the Nov. 2 election have similar perspectives on prioritizing the city’s shortage of affordable and available housing and the need to provide services to the homeless , but they differ in their approaches.
Travis Curran, candidate for mayor in 2019; President of the Planning Council Brandon Mazer; member of the Roberto Rodriguez school board; and attorney Stuart Tisdale Jr. are running for the seat vacated by Nick Mavodones, who has served on the board for nearly 25 years.
Curran focuses on housing, in part by applying the city’s cap on short-term rentals, he said, as those rentals take homes off the market.
“The city has already capped Airbnb rentals and rentals of owned and investment properties, âCurran said. âThere is very little oversight on the application of these policies. WWe must enforce them. Wi need those houses and we don’t need small hotels, and there is way more than the ceiling.
Curran would also like to see zoning reform to allow more apartments and multi-family homes in the city suburbs, further away from the city center.
Mazer said the supply of housing in the city must be increased. Changes can be made to allow more multi-unit housing projects, such as relaxing parking requirements and providing developers with incentives to build in ways that allow for greater density.
“Wi need incite more family housing, âsaid Mazer. “We need to look at our main corridors, like Brighton Aplace, Forest Aplace, the corridors adjacent to the peninsula where there could be more density to lighten the peninsula pressure.”
The housing problem must be solved, Rodriguez said, but he would rely on experts to solve it.
“YouCandidates don’t need to have the idea or plan that will solve our problems. There are a lot of very good proposals and people doing this work in the city and the state, âRodriguez said.
Tisdale also said housing solutions are best left to experts, but argues those efforts should focus on the middle class.
âIf teachers who teach young people in a community can’t afford to live there, I don’t agree with that,â he said. “YesYou have the people who are assisted in finding housing by the housing authority, which helps eligible people, and then you have the people who live in the luxury condos, but you don’t have an average population.
Candidates differ on whether the 200-bed homeless service center planned for the Riverton area or smaller shelters would be best for the city.
Curran, who said he has experienced homelessness in the past, said the large shelter is a start, but smaller shelters are also needed.
“IF There are a problem in a shelter, you may be the victim of a criminal intrusion, and you are beautiful not allowed entry for a full year, âCurran said. “Melder wthe inters are rough. If there is only one installation and it affects you, then what is it? “
A large facility provides good quality services, Mazer said, while the city may struggle to staff many small shelters.
“Have four or five emergency shelters offering the services that the Riverside shelter will provide.” goi am difficult because of staff and funding perspective,” Mazer noted. “From that perspective, I think a centralized shelter that can be open 24/7 with onsite services makes more sense.
Rodriguez, too, focused on quality rather than size.
“We need this waiting this side centralized objective, which means high quality services to members of our homeless community, âsaid Rodriguez.
Tisdale said he supported the large shelter rather than the small facilities “if there is to be a shelter,” noting that many shelters in the neighborhoods would be “impossible” to pass for advice.
At the same time, Tisdale would like to see proposals to reduce the number of “beggars” in the city, especially those who might be able to work.
âThe proliferation of beggingâ¦ makes a bad impression,â Tisdale said. “There is no need for that. Shops around can not find enough people work, social services are numerous. When beggars are in front of a business, it discourages people from entering the business. This‘s allow a group of people to that are not helped by being activated. “
The candidates also cite a number of other priorities.
Curran said he would like to see a local option of sales taxes for tourism services to ease property taxes, such as cruises; more work done in harm reduction to address the opioid epidemic, such as supervised injection sites; the expansion of public transport at night; and an increase in the number of municipal parking lots.
Mazer said he would also like to focus on improving transit options.
Rodriguez highlighted the collaboration and representation of all his constituents. He would focus his efforts on getting marginalized groups, whose views might otherwise be ignored, to speak at board meetings. He cited as an example a group of loud activists who wanted to remove police from schools and succeeded.
“If I see that there are a handful of privileged people defend for something, I have to ask myself who is not in the room and for whom we are not hearing a plea, âRodriguez said. “What we lack is the political will to move these things forward.”
Tisdale said he will also focus on collaboration. He said there was a lack of moderate votes in the city, and although he was an “embarrassed Republican” after the Trump presidency, he would often vote regardless of party, he said.
The election takes place on November 2. Polling stations, which can be found online at the city clerk’s website, open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
For more information on the election, including how to apply for a postal ballot, visit portlandmaine.gov/1116/November-Municipal-Election.
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