Published: October 14, 2008
Bartender running for Council
John Myers, a nationally recognized mixologist and cocktail historian who tends bar at The Grill Room on Exchange Street (and writes a regular feature on cocktails for The Bollard), has launched a write-in campaign for the at-large seat on the Portland City Council currently held by Mayor Ed Suslovic.
“If You Want to Get Screwed, Elect a Politician,” Myers’ campaign card reads. “If You Want To Be Served, Elect a Bartender!”
In addition to Suslovic — who is seeking a second, three-year Council term — two other candidates are on the ballot this November: Dory Waxman and Tina Smith. Myers filed paperwork with the Portland City Clerk’s office today that declares his intention to run and to serve if elected, so write-in votes for “John Myers” or even just “Myers” will be counted — though, as the clerk has previously stressed, voters must also fill in the oval next to the write-in line in order for the vote to count.
Myers said he’s running to give more voice to those who work and recreate in the Old Port and other parts of the peninsula. “The Old Port is the engine, the heartbeat, the soul of Portland,” he said. Though Councilors Dave Marshall and Kevin Donoghue (whose districts include the peninsula) have been generally supportive of the Old Port, Myers said, the other seven councilors have not.
Myers cited several recent Council actions he believes have had a negative effect on business and the quality of life downtown, including the new ban on smoking on bar and restaurant patios and decks (for the record, Myers is a non-smoker) and zoning rules that limit entertainment in the Old Port and Arts District.
Myers, 41, is currently a resident of Munjoy Hill, but is moving to an apartment in the Old Port later this year. He is single and has no children, is not registered as a member of any political party, and this is his first run for public office.
“The Land of Forgotten Cocktails,” Myers’ regular feature for The Bollard, has appeared in our print editions since the Winter 2007 issue. In an effort to give all candidates in this race equal time and opportunity to express themselves in our publication, The Bollard has asked Suslovic, Waxman and Smith to each contribute one cocktail recipe for our November issue. (Myers typically writes about four or five different cocktails in each issue, but will limit his contribution to one cocktail in the November edition, at our request.)
Smith said she is excited about the opportunity to contribute a recipe; Suslovic and Waxman sounded less enthused. (Hey, at least we offered.)
League tries (and fails) to remove criticism of Waxman
The League of Young Voters (formerly The League of Pissed Off Voters and, after that, briefly, The League) has tried to remove a statement critical of Portland City Council candidate Dory Waxman in its 2008 voter guide. The youth-oriented political group almost succeeded.
Although the statement was removed from the write-up on Waxman posted on the group’s Web site, the sentence is readable beneath a line of black marker on print copies of the guide distributed around town. After calling Waxman a “passionate, experienced candidate that would provide a unique perspective to create policy beneficial to all,” the semi-redacted statement reads, “However, in the past she has tended to back candidates that the League opposes, and we wonder how this would impact her ability to work with other councilors in office.”
Minus that sentence, the write-up contains nothing negative about the candidate.
The League endorsed one of Waxman’s opponents, Mayor Ed Suslovic, in the guide. Former League staffer Tina Smith is also in this race, as is bartender and writer John Myers (see above), who had not declared his candidacy in time to take part in the group’s evaluation and endorsement process.
Harris Parnell, state director of the national political organization, said the League agreed to remove the statement after it was contacted by Cliff Ginn, Waxman’s campaign manager, who “disagreed” with it. “It was … a disagreement or a misunderstanding about a couple of folks that Dory had backed in the past,” said Parnell.
Parnell said she does not know who the “folks” in question are. She told The Bollard she would check with another staffer more directly involved in the matter and get back to us today. She did not.
Waxman said she has supported candidates and initiatives The League has backed in the past. Ginn could not be reached for comment today.
Parnell said her group is not willing to consider further changes to the guide. Suslovic had no comment on the matter, but Smith questioned the fairness of her former employer’s methods.
The guide says Smith lacks experience with “strategic planning, policy, and budgets [which] would not make her an effective advocate on the Council.” Smith acknowledged her lack of experience with municipal budgets, but said she’s done extensive “strategic planning” work for, among others, the League.
Smith said League members “never asked me any questions” regarding her experience with budgets, planning or policy. “How do they know whether or not I have experience doing those things?” she said.
Parnell defended her group’s process as thorough and fair. She said the “mistake” in Waxman’s write-up should be considered in light of the fact the group evaluated dozens of candidates during this busy election year, and only made that one error.
OK, two errors. (Next time, use more ink.)