Suslovic, Hopkins win citywide office
Jim Cohen poised to be next mayor
By Chris Busby
Former state representative Ed Suslovic is headed to the Portland City Council, and the nine-member Portland School Committee will include four registered members of the Green Independent Party when at-large representative Susan Hopkins is sworn in next month. City Councilor Cheryl Leeman won an eighth three-year term, and councilor Jim Cohen also won re-election, handily beating feisty challenger Alvin “Al” Schulman. Cohen is expected to be chosen by his fellow councilors to be Portland’s next mayor — a largely ceremonial position councilors hold for one-year terms.
District 4 School Committee member Teri McRae was defeated at the polls by Lori Gramlich, a public relations consultant and Democratic Party activist. McRae is also the Cumberland County Register of Probate, an elected office she will retain. In District 5 (the Deering, North Deering and Riverton neighborhoods), juvenile probation officer John Coyne handily defeated print company executive Chris Breen — 72 to 28 percent.
Matthew Sinclair won the other municipal race this year, for a seat on the Portland Water District’s Board of Trustees, defeating Alan Lyscars.
Portland voters strongly supported all five state bond issues on the ballot, as well as the amendment to the State Constitution that allows waterfront property to be taxed at less than its fair-market value. The amendment was passed by voters statewide. The bond issue asking voters to approve borrowing to pay for building improvements at the University of Southern Maine was the sole statewide bond question still too close to call by late Tuesday night.
On Question 1, the referendum effort asking voters to repeal state civil rights protections for gays and lesbians, Portland voters overwhelmingly voted “No” — 15,798 “No” votes (over 76 percent) compared to 4,837 “Yes” votes. Voters statewide cast ballots to retain those protections by a smaller, but decisive, margin.
Suslovic took the at-large race with 47 percent of the total, according to unofficial results released Tuesday night (totals are not expected to appreciably change once the results are formally finalized by the city clerk in the coming days). Challengers Loretta Griffin and Carol Schiller attracted 29 and 23 percent of the vote, respectively.
Hopkins’ margin over challengers Jaimey Caron and Frances Frost was much narrower: 38 percent to Caron’s nearly 35-percent take and Frost’s 27 percent. The unofficial results show Hopkins leading by over 500 votes with all precincts reporting and all absentee ballots tallied.
In District 4, an area covering off-peninsula neighborhoods on both sides of Washington Avenue, first-time candidate Stephen Lovejoy got 41 percent of the vote to Leeman’s 58 percent. School board candidate Gramlich won the same district with 61 percent of the vote.
Cohen won his second term with nearly 85 percent of the votes cast, but that doesn’t mean we’ve heard the end of Al Schulman. Earlier this week, Schulman said he planned to start gathering signatures in hopes of forcing a citywide referendum on the central issue of his council campaign: changing city government so voters directly elect the mayor of Portland.