Waxman, Coyne win Council seats
Democratic establishment back in power in Portland
By Chris Busby
Dory Waxman defeated Portland Mayor Ed Suslovic to win the at-large City Council race today. Unofficial results with nearly all precincts reporting showed her ahead by over 600 votes. And in District 5 (North Deering), Portland School Committee chairman John Coyne handily defeated first-time candidate Naomi Mermin. District 4 (East Deering) City Councilor Cheryl Leeman ran unopposed.
The victories by Coyne and Waxman portend a return to the days when councilors aligned with the Democratic Party establishment in Portland ruled the Council. Maverick Dems like Suslovic and the Green Independents who joined him on several key votes over the past couple of years — like the decision to pursue The Olympia Companies’ proposal for redevelopment of the Maine State Pier over party favorite Ocean Properties — are now back in the minority.
Should Olympia’s negotiations with the city fail to produce an agreement, it’s expected the votes would now be in place to give OP the opportunity to negotiate for the property.
“It’s disquieting to think negative campaigning will now take root in Portland,” said Suslovic, referring to a piece of campaign literature distributed late in the campaign by a Waxman supporter slamming him (in some cases, inaccurately) for several votes he’s cast. “Clearly, there’s a shift that’s occurred. We’ll have to wait and see where they [the Democratic majority] go.”
Liz Holton won the at-large seat on the Portland School Committee, beating Anna Trevorrow by over 5,000 votes, according to unofficial results. Among the write-ins for the District 4 and 5 school board seats, Justin Costa (District 4) and Marnie Morrione (District 5) were the apparent winners.
Democrat Justin Alfond crushed the competition in the race for Democratic State Senator Ethan Strimling’s seat (State Senate District 8), and veteran legislator Joe Brannigan appears to have coasted to another term in State Senate District 9 (which includes part of Westbrook), besting Republican challenger Nick McGee by over 6,000 votes in Portland.
Democrats won every state House seat, as well, in a year when record turnout for the presidential election brought the party faithful out in droves.
In District 113 (North Deering, part of Falmouth), Joan Cohen defeated Jeffrey Martin, with unofficial results showing her netting over 65 percent of the vote in Portland (a margin of over 1,000 votes).
In District 114 (East Deering and the islands), Dem Peter Stuckey annihilated David Fernald, attracting over 2,500 votes to Fernald’s tally of just over 900.
In District 115 (Back Cove, Oakdale), Stephen Lovejoy bested Green challenger Michael Hiltz and Republican Donna Bendiksen. It wasn’t close.
Democrat Charlie Harlow coasted to re-election in District 116 (Riverton), collecting well over twice the tally Republican challenger Ken Capron got. Fellow Dem Anne Haskell beat Republican Phil Haskell by an even larger margin in District 117, earning a second consecutive term representing the Stroudwater and Rosemont neighborhoods.
Herb Adams rolled to another re-election victory in District 118 (Parkside, Bayside), easily defeating Green Dan Jenkins. (Unofficial tally: Adams 2,243, Jenkins 886). Jon Hinck, essentially running unopposed against Green Joshua Miller, who did not actively campaign, got three-quarters of West End District 119’s vote.
Democrat Diane Russell won on the East End (District 120), taking over 51 percent of the vote to Green Sandy Amborn’s 30 percent and Republican Peter Doyle’s 18 percent.
In the Congressional races, Democrat Chellie Pingree held a strong lead at press time over Republican Charlie Summers, and Democrat Tom Allen was losing by a significant margin to incumbent Republican Susan Collins, as expected. Allen garnered over 62 percent of the vote in Portland and Pingree got over 71 percent.
Portland voters OK’d the formation of a charter commission to reconsider how Portland government is structured. The unofficial tally showed nearly 60 percent in favor. Over 53 percent of Portland voters favored repeal of the beverage tax (Question 1), and over 56 percent voted against the proposal to allow a casino to operate in Oxford County. The bond issue for drinking water programs and related bonds passed handily in Portland (68 percent in favor).