Bill Lowering Barriers to Ballot Access for Minor Party Candidates Signed Into Law

A bill reducing enrollment requirements for minor political parties, introduced by Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin), was signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills (D) Monday alongside a number of other bills passed by the Legislature this session.

LD 769, “An Act to Reduce the Enrollment Requirement for Minor Political Parties That Seek Official Party Status,” lowers the enrollment required of a minor party for participation in Maine’s primary elections from 10,000 voters to 5,000 voters. ...

“A healthy political ecosystem must maintain space for third parties. They remind us there are more than two sides to any issue, putting forward perspectives that established orders would often rather ignore even to detriment of society,” Brakey said. “Over 26% of Maine voters are currently unenrolled, preferring not to sign on with either major party. Maine people want options, and yet only one third party, the Green-Independent Party, has managed to maintain the high thresholds for ballot access and party recognition in the state of Maine.” ...



'People are scared of losing their homes:' Lewiston housing crunch leaves people with nowhere to go

'People are scared of losing their homes:' Lewiston housing crunch leaves people with nowhere to go


by Owen Kingsley, WGME


LEWISTON (WGME) - Lewiston’s housing crisis is leaving renters with nowhere to go.

A recent report from the Lewiston Housing Committee showed there is almost no available housing in the city. ...

The city says they’re not yet considering rent control as an option.

“I think that we need a critical mass of housing first in order for it to work. Otherwise, developers are just going to go to other municipalities that don’t have rent control,” Lewiston City Councilor Scott Harriman said. ...



Casco Comp Plan vote date delayed

Casco Comp Plan vote date delayed


By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — A town’s comprehensive plan is by nature a large document that is designed to express the wishes and wants of the townspeople. Once completed, it is often not updated or redone for more than a decade. The process of putting together a comp plan can often take anywhere from 18 months to two-plus years.

The Town of Casco is in the process of doing its comp plan. ...

This spring, the timeline was to hold a special town meeting in July so residents could vote on whether or not to adopt the proposed comp plan.

That timeline has changed. Everyone is in agreement: Let’s get it right. Then, let’s move to the next chapter of the comp plan story.

Last week, the Casco Board of Selectmen held a workshop with the Casco Comp Plan Steering Committee. 

This summer, the steering committee has been meeting weekly, according to Chair Rae-Anne Nguyen. ...

Apparently, there is still some editing to be done.

“A lot of it comes down to wording: ‘You will, you shall, you must.’ I think that kind of scared people. If we let that [wording] down a little bit,” Selectman Scott Avery said. 

“We sit here and tell everyone this is a living, breathing document, which is basically a road map for the town. And if the town chooses to take that road, it can. But there are other roads as well. . .  The wording has to match that sentiment. We are saying it is a living, breathing, open document, but will/shall is making people uncomfortable. Once we get rid of some that, I think that will settle a lot of things.” ...

Nguyen asked the board: “What was your takeaway from reading the public comments? Are there any hot-button issues that you feel need to be addressed?”

Avery answered “one hiccup point” is that people want the land along Route 302 in Casco to remain zoned agriculture. That’s the area where Raymond Frozen Custard and farm stand is located. ...

Later in the discussion, Edwards said the committee “would like to have this done by the end of year.”

Chairman MacDonald agreed.

“I would love to bring it to a special town meeting in January,” he said.

Nguyen, who was already standing at the podium, spoke.

“We want to see the end point. We want to see our goal posts,” she said.

Selectman Avery said, “You have put in so much time already. You have gone above and beyond what is expected. The last thing I would want to do is rush you into something. If you need to take until the end of year, and you are comfortable with that, then by all means.” ...



Casco LED lights get mixed reviews

Casco LED lights get mixed reviews


By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — LED streetlights might be illuminating to some people. Yet, for other citizens, the bulbs are a blinding nuisance.

One Casco resident, who brought her concerns to Central Maine Power (CMP) as well as to the town, explained why she was frustrated with the new lighting. ...

Last week, Casco resident Ilene Tidd spoke during public participation time at the Casco Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

“I previously reached out by e-mail to the select board and the town manager, regarding an LED light pole that is negatively impacting our property,” she began. ...

“They are much brighter than the amber colored sodium sulphate lights they replaced. If the LED lights aren’t properly installed, they can cause more light pollution. They are harsh on the eyes,” she said. ...

“Lights along property lines will be visible to residents, but should be appropriately shielded,” she read.  ...

Selectman Scott Avery understood her point of view, but advocated for more lighting on poorly lit roads.

“I can see why you are looking at your light,” he said.

“At Pike’s Corner, I am cheering for the LED lights because that intersection is dark. It is supposedly one of the worst intersections in the state. But yet, without Crossroads Store there and [the owner] being so great and keeping spotlights on there, that intersection is black. Unfortunately a couple of the businesses have been burglarized because it is so dark and anyone driving by can’t see anything,” Avery said.

He repeated that he understood Tidd’s viewpoint and had seen the photos she submitted.  

“At the same time, all our intersection are dark. Every single one of them. Cooks Mills and Tenney Hill Road are dark. Route 302 and Tenny Hill are dark. We had to address those concerns,” he said.

More streetlights would be advantageous in the area around Crooked River School, he said. 

“The reasoning for the LED is our town was dark in places it shouldn’t be dark,” Avery said. “Pike’s Corner is still dark, but better than it was.” ...



Portland city councilors get a look at resources to develop affordable housing

Portland city councilors get a look at resources to develop affordable housing


Portland city councilors got a look Wednesday night at resources the city can use to help develop affordable housing.

During an hour-and-a-half workshop, the council discussed the HOME program and Community Development Block Grant funding, two federal programs that can be used to help finance affordable housing and related infrastructure, and the city’s Jill C. Duson Housing Trust Fund, a local resource to help offset the costs of creating affordable housing.

They also talked about the process for developing city-owned property into affordable housing and Portland’s goals.

The workshop was called at the request of Councilor Anna Trevorrow, who also serves on the city’s Land Bank Commission. She said the commission is often questioned about whether various properties have been considered for affordable housing.

“We often hear, ‘Have we pursued this property for affordable housing?’ We all know we’re in a huge housing crisis,” said Trevorrow, who said she wanted to provide a baseline for the council and public about the role the city can play in affordable housing development. ...





Letter to the editor: Vote ‘yes’ to create locally focused Maine power company

I am appalled, though not surprised, to learn from Press Herald reporting (June 18) that the $18.4 million Central Maine Power and Versant Power have spent opposing the public power initiative has come solely from their parent companies with zilch from individual Mainers. The paltry, by comparison, $655,740 Pine Tree Power has spent has come mostly from individual donors ($431,035), with some from businesses ($156,360) and a smaller amount listed as coming from other sources ($68,345).

This corporate funding, coming to support CMP’s and Versant’s efforts to continue giving Mainers poor service and increasingly higher rates, is from foreign sources whose only goal is to maximize their profits instead of investing them in Maine’s economy.

I fully support a “yes” vote in November to create a new power company for providing electricity transmission and distribution facilities from a local entity with an elected board instead of lining the pockets of foreign investors with no local representation.

Gilbert Harris
former co-chair, Maine Green Independent Party; Limerick selectperson



Portland City Council expected to postpone action on municipal budget until July

Portland City Council expected to postpone action on municipal budget until July


The Portland City Council is expected to again delay action on the municipal budget Monday following a request from staff members who are waiting for the Legislature to determine General Assistance reimbursement levels.

The council had been expected to vote on more than a dozen budget items Monday. The city already had postponed the vote this month for the same reason. ...

Some city councilors also have submitted proposed amendments to the budget to be considered, including a proposal from Councilor Anna Trevorrow for an additional $175,000 for the city’s newly formed clean elections fund. ...



Portland housing office staff to present rent control changes to City Council

Portland housing office staff to present rent control changes to City Council


By Rachel Ohm

Jun 23, 2023


The Portland City Council may put more changes to the city’s rent control ordinance before voters this November.

A proposal generated by city staff would allow the Rent Board to approve increases beyond the current 10% annual cap, put in place a new 60-day deadline for tenants to file complaints and eliminate a two-tiered fee on landlords who register their apartments late. ...

Some city councilors contacted Thursday said they weren’t expecting staff to bring this forward Monday.

“My initial reaction is I’m surprised to see it come up,” said Councilor Anna Trevorrow, who plans to find out more about the proposal before declaring a position. ...

The proposal comes less than two weeks after city voters rejected a landlord-initiated proposal to eliminate a 5% cap on the rent increase allowed when a tenant voluntarily vacates an apartment. Question A failed 67% to 33%. ...

City code says that any ordinances passed by referendum cannot be changed by the City Council for five years, except through another referendum. The council will be asked whether to send the proposal to voters, who would likely see it in the November election.

Monday’s agenda item is just a first read, with council action on the proposal not expected until July 17, at the earliest. ...



Lewiston council denies license for Park Street shelter proposal

Lewiston council denies license for Park Street shelter proposal


A man rides past the former Sun Journal on Wednesday afternoon on Park Street in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal


LEWISTON — The City Council denied a license for the proposed homeless shelter at 104 Park St. on Tuesday, citing a lack of funding and concerns over its location near the downtown business district.

The decision came after the project missed a deadline to receive a $3.7 million grant from MaineHousing, however officials behind the shelter effort said they planned to seek other means of funding if the license was approved.

In a 5-2 vote, councilors said a lack of funding cast doubt on the shelter operators’ ability to meet the requirements of the license they were seeking, while also stating dozens of other concerns tied to previous shelter operations. Councilors Scott Harriman and Stephanie Gelinas were opposed. ...




School committee considering new bus options


Wed, 06/21/2023 


With June 21 being the last day of classes, Southport School Committee is now preparing for the next academic year beginning in August. On June 12, the school committee approved a contract extension through 2025 for teaching principal Lisa Clarke. The committee is also researching a new school bus. The three-person board favors buying a gasoline-fueled three-quarter sized bus, but Chairman Adam Harkins warns those models are in short supply. “There is a longer wait time for three-quarter buses. So, I’m proposing we study our options, and come up with a plan later this summer,” he said.

The committee received three bus quotes, two for regular and one for three-quarter-sized. Harkins will provide the other members with the bus quotes to review and plans on scheduling a summer meeting to consider their options. ...



Megan Parks to seek fifth term on Lewiston School Committee

Megan Parks to seek fifth term on Lewiston School Committee


Megan Parks.  Submitted photo

LEWISTON — Lewiston Public Schools Chairwoman Megan Parks has announced she will seek reelection to the at-large seat.

Born in Lewiston, the Lewiston High School graduate has served as the at-large representative for the past eight years. According to her campaign announcement, she has worked to become an advocate who can navigate tough topics with an open mind while soliciting input from those most impacted before making decisions.

Parks said in order to be informed of all perspectives she meets with parents, students, staff and community members to give them a voice and encourage participation in meetings. ...

“Our focus needs to be on what is best for our students,” she said. ...

As a third generation Franco-American, she has lived in Lewiston for more than 40 years. Her daughter is a 2020 LHS graduate and her son is an incoming freshman.



Hope voters elect one Select Board member, write in another

Hope voters elect one Select Board member, write in another


... Lori Perez ran unopposed to sit on the Five Town CSD School Board, receiving 144 votes.



Portland City Council approves new 180-bed shelter for asylum seekers

Portland City Council approves new 180-bed shelter for asylum seekers



PORTLAND (WGME) -- Nearly 200 shelter beds are going up in the Riverton neighborhood in Portland.

With the Portland Expo ending its second stint as an emergency shelter in August, the city was pressured to provide transitional housing to asylum seekers.

The building on Riverside Industrial Parkway will be rehabbed into a 180-bed emergency shelter for asylum seekers. City leaders hope this will not only give them a place to stay but help reduce homeless encampments around the city.

“This is an emergency solution to a humanitarian crisis,” Portland City Councilor Anna Trevorrow said.

In an 8-1 vote, the Portland City Council passed the plan for a new shelter. ...



Harriman seeking reelection to Lewiston City Council

Harriman seeking reelection to Lewiston City Council


LEWISTON — Scott Harriman has announced that he is seeking a second term representing Ward 3 on the Lewiston City Council.

Scott Harriman

Scott Harriman

According to a written statement, Harrison “has consistently been a strong voice on the council who listens to and advocates for the community.

“His priorities for his next term include incentivizing the creation of more housing, addressing homelessness in a positive way, and making sure that our schools and city departments have the resources they need to serve all the city’s residents,” according to the statement.

Harriman said he will also continue working to maintain people’s trust in government and to ensure that Lewiston “is a welcoming city for all.” ...



Portland City Council confirms Danielle West as city manager

Portland City Council confirms Danielle West as city manager


The Portland City Council named Danielle West, who has served as interim city manager since November 2021, to the permanent job on Monday.

West, 45, will assume the position immediately as part of a three-year employment contract with an annual base salary of $210,000. She will be the first woman to serve as city manager in Portland.

The council approved her appointment unanimously. ...

Councilor Anna Trevorrow said the city is lucky to have West because of her “step-up ability” and skill navigating the priorities and needs of different groups. “Even when we don’t agree on a particular issue, you still have a path forward,” Trevorrow told West. “That’s extremely important and probably the most important credential for this role.” ...



Portland will open Clean Elections funding in June

Portland's City Hall in March 2023. (Portland Phoenix/Colin Ellis)

Candidates considering running for mayor, city council and school board in Portland this fall can declare as soon as June 1 whether they intend to run as a publicly financed candidate.

At that date, candidates can begin the process of running via clean elections, a newly adopted program approved by voters. ...

Candidates running for municipal seats via a clean elections program sign a declaration of intent anytime between June 1 and September 11, and sign an affidavit with the city clerk’s office pledging to refund the city if they drop out or fail to qualify for the ballot. Those wishing to be clean elections candidates can start collecting $5 qualifying contributions on June 1, which help them secure the full funding amounts (more on that later). 

This is according to Anna Trevorrow, a city councilor who helped draft language for the program adopted in April by the City Council.  ...

“It’s been challenging,” Trevorrow said. “We have a responsibility to make a program that will be attractive to candidates. The goal was to reduce private interests and allow for candidates who don’t have access to big donors.” She added that even if it was “imperfect” in its first year, it still allowed for candidates to participate.



Bayside homeless encampment to be removed 'this week,' Portland leaders say

The mayor of Portland is supporting the Interim City Manager's recommendation to remove the homeless encampment in the Bayside area. ...

Several councilors, including Victoria Pelletier and Anna Trevorrow, said they could not support a plan telling those in the camp that they could not stay but that with shelters at capacity, there is nowhere for them to go. ...



Portland plans to clear Bayside Trail encampment, establish task force

Portland plans to clear a large encampment along the Bayside Trail and then set up a task force to provide a better response and delivery of services at other sites.

The plans were discussed Tuesday night at a meeting of the City Council’s Health and Human Services & Public Safety Committee. ...

Councilors Anna Trevorrow and Victoria Pelletier said that while they support the task force they were having a hard time backing the clearing of the encampment. ...

Tents line the Bayside Trail on April 27. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer


“You definitely have my stamp of approval with moving forward with the task force,” Trevorrow said. “I think I would prefer to try and make it work for the Bayside campsite. I don’t want to minimize the work and decision making – I appreciate it. But I’m coming at it from the frame of mind of what is in the best interest of these individuals, and I just can’t say this is the right thing to do.”



Letter: Support reproductive rights in Maine

I was a teacher and literacy coach in a rural school district for many years before retirement. I have seen the impact on children of unwanted pregnancy in terms of poverty, other poor conditions for growing up and the ability to benefit from school opportunities.

Now more than ever our young people deserve to be wanted and loved in a family with the means to support them for 18 years or more.

Please support reproductive rights for Mainers. Specifically, urge your representative and senator to vote yes on LD 1619 when it comes to the floor. I know many voters in rural Maine who feel as I do about the importance of freedom to access contraception including abortion.

Without the ability to control our own childbearing, freedom is a meaningless word.

Lisa Savage