Mike Brennan Answers Some Questions

Three candidates are vying to be Portland‘s next mayor and we sent a questionnaire to each. We chose questions that we hope will draw out their both political priorities and their engagement with the community, both their style and their substance. Mike Brennan’s answers are below, and we’ll be posting all the other questionnaire’s in the weeks ahead. For more background on the mayoral race, including a brief profile of each candidate, check out this blog post. You can also learn more about Mike Brennan in this profile by the Portland Press Herald.

  1. What’s most at stake in this election?

When Portland voters decided to change the charter to create a directly-elected mayor, they spoke with a clear voice that the city needed to change the way it does business. The role of the mayor is to provide a coherent policy direction for the city. I have done that, and the city is moving in the right direction. Our schools are stronger every year, and unemployment is under 3.5 percent.

At stake this year is whether or not we continue to move the city forward, and also making sure that as Portland grows more prosperous, that we do not leave anyone behind. This is why we successfully raised Portland’s minimum wage, and why I will continue to advocate for affordable housing, for infrastructure improvement, and for good-paying jobs.

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?

We need to make sure that the growth in our city is equitable and that the city’s prosperity is felt by people of all income levels. This is why I support inclusionary zoning, which would require that a percentage of new housing development be affordable.

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?

Affordability and income inequality are important issues, which is why my proposal to raise Portland’s minimum wage passed the City Council. This will take effect in January.

As I mentioned before, adopting an inclusionary zoning ordinance to require more affordable housing will also help. Beyond that we need to look at all possible options as a city to make housing more affordable, from taking advantage of city-owned land (not parks), to allowing for different types of housing such as single-room occupancy and tiny houses, to increasing our supply of housing.

Since health care is also a major source of financial stress, we also as a city must continue to enroll people in the Affordable Care Act and advocate for the expansion of MaineCare.

4. What are two of your favorite local businesses?

Bull Moose Music and Rosemont Market

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?

Growing Portland is a collaboration of 21 different organizations that is focused on the question: what is the future of Portland’s economy? It identifies sectors of growth and the challenges we face in developing those sectors. It is an unprecedented collaboration between the Mayor’s office and these organizations.

Part of the future of our economy is continuing to foster and support entrepreneurship. We have an incredibly energetic and engaged start-up community in Portland, representing everything from the technology sector to food. It is important for the city to invest in the necessary infrastructure, both bricks and mortar but also broadband internet services, to allow these businesses to thrive.

I strongly support Buy Local efforts and the city has a loan program that helps start-up businesses get off the ground.

6. How often do you use forms of transportation other than driving (bicycles, bus, train, uber etc.)?

I am an avid mountain biker, and I bike and walk regularly, both for exercise and for regular transportation. Supporting all forms of transportation is important, which is why I support the Complete Streets policy, that takes into account biking and pedestrian use when making upgrades to city roads.

7. Does our local/regional public transportation system need any improvements or changes?

We are working to create an intermodal transportation hub at Thompson’s Point, which will revolutionize the way people move around the city. It will allow for greater opportunity to travel using public transportation, and reduce the traffic burden on the city.

8. Which grocery store(s) do you shop at most?

The Hannaford in Back Cove, though I am also a member of the Portland Food Co-Op and shop frequently at Rosemont.

9. What should the city council do to support the local food economy?

I am proud to have started the Mayor’s Initiative for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System, which focuses on the following:

○ Provide continued and increased public engagement in food-related policies and initiatives;

○ Identify and implement positive changes in the community’s food systems and policies;

○ Prioritize and respond to City and community identified needs for food system change and improvement; and

○ Increase access to healthier food for residents.

As Mayor, I would like to continue and strengthen this initiative by achieving the goal of having at least 50 percent of all food served in schools and city facilities be locally sourced. Continuing this initiative also supports our fishing and restaurant industries.

We also have secured a $15,000 grant from Harvard Pilgrim to create a new community garden on the Eastern Promenade.

10. Which local arts or entertainment institution do you visit most often?

Portland Museum of Art and Payson Museum at University of New England.

11. What can the city council do to strengthen the local arts community?

I support expanding Creative Portland, the innovative organization that works to strengthen the creative economy, which has a key role to play in continuing to move Portland forward.

Since I have been mayor, we have doubled Creative Portland’s budget.

12. Would you have voted to continue General Assistance for asylum-seekers earlier this year (following cuts to state funding)? What do you think the city should have done to deal with that crisis?

I played a leadership role in developing and supporting a plan to help asylum seekers. This prevented approximately 800 of our neighbors from becoming homeless. In addition to that, I worked with our legislative delegation to advocate for policies on the state level. As mayor, I will continue make Portland a welcoming community for immigrants and their families. Portland’s future success depends on it.

13. Are you voting for or against a $15 minimum wage?

Against. I support the statewide referendum to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour.

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