District 1 City Council Candidate Brandan Mazer’s Questionnaire
1. What’s most at stake in this election?
Affordability of living expenses. Portland needs to be affordable for everyone, from students to retirees and everyone in between. Diversity is a cornerstone of our city, and as District 1’s City Councilor, I’ll stand up for all my constituents and fight to make sure that the Council keeps Portland livable.
2. Portland is growing and changing quickly. What are the potential negative outcomes from that growth that the city council should work to avoid? What should the council do to guide growth in a positive direction?
The Council needs to encourage responsible, reasonable growth that strengthens the character of our city, creates jobs and supports our city’s values. Quick and irresponsible growth that lacks planning and oversight could leave us with vacant spaces that don’t help to keep our city liveable. The Council should encourage every kind of development, from affordable housing to restaurants, condominiums to small businesses, as long as they enhance our city. Most importantly, I believe that we need to have stronger and more meaningful dialogues about development and growth, and that we need to make sure that we listen to every voice when the City makes these difficult decisions.
3. People without wealth are finding it more and more difficult to get by in Portland and live comfortably. What should the city council do to ensure that Portland continues to be a livable city for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds?
Portland needs to be livable and affordable for everyone. The city should work with the development community to encourage the building of affordable housing. Efforts such as height bonuses, density bonuses, a reexamination of our current zoning and allowing increased density where appropriate have been proven to yield positive results, and are measures that I will advocate for on the Council.
4. What are two†of your favorite local businesses?
Bayside Bowl and Coffee by Design.
5. What should the city council do to sustain a local economy that supports the growth and creation of businesses like the ones you mentioned in the last question?
The City needs to do better job in promoting itself as a welcoming place for entrepreneurs to invest and open new ventures, such as Coffee by Design and Bayside Bowl. The City should be seen as a partner in helping all of its residents and businesses succeed to their highest potential. I know that when neighborhoods work, cities work. Neighborhoods work when housing is affordable for all of us college students, families, retirees, and everyone in between. Neighborhoods work when people have good jobs, and when kids go to schools with engaged parents and outstanding teachers. Our neighborhoods are critical to our city’s development, and can foster a climate within our city that promotes new businesses and sustains existing ones.
6. How often do you use forms of transportation other than driving (bicycles, bus, train, uber etc.)?
I love that Portland is a walkable, accessible city, and as District 1’s City Councilor, I’ll fight to make Portland even friendlier to walkers, bicyclists and the disabled. I live and work in District 1, and I often walk to the Old Port, to the Eastern Prom and to work. I frequently take the bus to Boston often and use Uber.
7. Does our local/regional public transportation system need any improvements or changes?
Yes. The Council needs to give increased attention to the Portland METRO Bus system, and should work to expand routes, increase bus frequency and improve reliability. I believe that our city should be accessible to everyone, including those without cars. Many Portlanders depend on METRO buses to take them to work and get them around town. The Council needs to act to support them. I applaud the recent changes including partnering with the Portland School District and the plan to have the buses equipped with GPS which will allow better predictability around arrival times.
8. Which grocery store(s) do you shop at most?
Lois’s Natural Marketplace, Hannaford and Micucci Grocery.
9. What should the city council do to support the local food economy?
As Shipyard Brewery’s general counsel, I’ve seen firsthand the challenges that local food businesses face. I understand the consequences of the work that the Council does to promote Portland’s food economy, and I know how difficult it can be to develop a food policy that meets the varied needs of our diverse city. The most important thing that the Council can do to support our food economy is to promote local food production through incentives to small businesses.
I believe that local food production and food insecurity go hand in hand, and that we need to develop a comprehensive approach that tackles both challenges. Nobody in Portland should ever go hungry, and it’s up to the Council to work with programs such as the Locker Project and Full Plates Full Potential as well as the state and the business community generate an integrated approach that deals with both issues.
10. Which local arts or entertainment institution do you visit most often?
The First Friday Art Walk is one of my favorite events in Portland. I try to go every month, and I always enjoy meeting local artists, reconnecting with friends, talking to my neighbors and seeing fantastic art. I also regularly see plays at Portland Stage and concerts at State Theatre and the Maine State Pier.
11. What can the city council do to strengthen the local arts community?
We are lucky to live in a city with such a vibrant and successful arts community. The city should continue to promote, support and expand programs like the First Friday Art Walk. Programs like this highlight the diversity of our city and showcase some of the best that we have to offer. It is up to the Council to ensure that the First Friday Art Walk continues to play this important role in our city and to work with the business and arts communities to continue to develop engaging, creative ways to support the arts in Portland.
12. Would you have voted to continue General Assistance for asylumseekers earlier this year (following cuts to state funding)? What do you think the city should have done to deal with that crisis?
Yes. Asylum seekers are a critical part of our community. How we treat those who are in this difficult situation reflects on the character of our city. The city needs to do all that it legally and affordably can to protect this vulnerable community. I also support the proposal by Senator King and Congresswoman Pingree to cut their work permit wait. As District 1’s City Councilor, I’ll fight to ensure that the city does whatever it takes to continue to stand up for our asylum seekers.
13. Are you voting for or against a $15 minimum wage?
I am voting against Question 1. While I believe that $15 per hour goes too far, too fast at a municipal level, I fully support the changes to the minimum wage that the council enacted and I plan on voting for the statewide minimum wage referendum. I believe the best approach is the referendum which will appear on the 2016 ballot to increase the state minimum wage to $12 an hour in 2020. I support reasonable measures like these to fight income inequality in our state and improve our economy. My top priority as District 1’s City Councilor will be to make Portland an affordable city for everyone.