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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Portland Greens run strong races in 2011

During the 2011 election, the Maine Green Independent Party endorsed three candidates for municipal office in Portland. While none won their individual election, they all surely changed the debate and forced their opponents to adopt their issues. We thank and appreciate all who chose to run and look forward to the 2012 campaign!

David Marshall sought the newly created office of directly-elected mayor. Marshall, who has served on the Portland City Council since 2006, was one of the primary catalysts for the directly elected mayoral position. He ran his campaign speaking about five issues: investing in school buildings, growing population in the downtown districts, getting homes and businesses off of oil, stimulate economic development with better mass transit and creating a 24 hour pothole guarantee. He ran an extremely competitive campaign in which a number of candidates raised more money than he did, but several of them finished well below him. He finished in fourth place of 15 candidates after knocking on 20,000 doors and having thousands of conversations with people across the city. His campaign also trained many new activists to the Portland committee and established a citywide information database which will help all Greens who seek office in Portland in the future be more competitive.

Josephine Okot sought to become the first person of African birth to ever hold office in Maine by seeking the school board at-large position. A mother of two and social worker by profession, Okot ran on the promise that when elected, she would force the city’s school board to focus more on the issues of school violence and bullying. She also sought to increase city graduation rates by helping more students meet mentors. Lastly, Okot wanted to save taxpayer money and create a culture of public transportation by getting middle and high school onto public transit whenever possible. She ran a strong, Green campaign and met many people who strongly support the notion that Portland’s immigrant community needs a voice on the school board. She gained nearly 5,800 votes and won several polling precints against the incumbent while finishing with just under 40% of the vote.

Lastly, Dr. Jack (John) Safarik sought the office of Water District Trustee. Safarik, who has run as a Green Independent in the past for State Representative, pushed forward the issues of maintaining the watershed and making sure that large water companies such as Nestle and Poland Spring would not be able to compromise the regional water supply. Safarik obtained about 33% of the vote in a two-way race.
The Portland Green Independent Committee and the Maine Green Independent Party are extremely proud of our 2011 candidates and appreciate all of the hard work and dedication they put forth. The issues they supported are not forgotten and will continue to change Portland for the better. We look forward to the 2012 campaign and the struggle for a more sustainable and just future.

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