Mayor's race kicks off

By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  January 26, 2011

WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE TOP THREE ISSUES FACING THE CITY? Most people are talking about garbage. I was surprised. Other issues are homelessness and oil prices, the heat is very expensive. People are having a really really hard time. People are not pleased, to say the least, about the state of affairs in Portland.

WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY FOR DEALING WITH ONE OF THOSE ISSUES? For me personally, my dream is to turn Portland into a mini Nice or a mini Dubai. Let’s just say, god forbid, we had an oil spill, and the tourists don’t show up. What is the plan B? Do we have any plan in place? I’m not talking about doom and gloom — I’m a very optimistic guy. But what if? I speak Arabic, French, I’m a salesman. I can go to the Middle East and bring some of our money back here. I don’t see that Portland has a vision. I’m not just going to sit at my desk. I’ll be roaming the streets, I’ll be traveling, bringing more investments to Portland. The more money you bring, it will bring other things with it. It will bring more tourism.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT PORTLAND? Portland is a small town with big city features. When it comes to arts, when it comes to concerts, it’s like the big city minus the hassles.

DO YOU HAVE ANY BIG-NAME SUPPORTERS ON BOARD? Put Longfellow. I like writers, I like literature. Put Baudelaire.

Jed Rathband, 38
38 | director of communications, Maine Green Energy Alliance | Lives in East Bayside; about eight years in Portland

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO RUN — AND WHEN DID YOU MAKE THE FINAL DECISION? I decided to run after consulting with several close friends who shared my belief that this election represents a new lease on life for the City of Portland. I felt that I could carry through with smart, progressive initiatives with the kind of energy and enthusiasm that we saw during the campaign for the new city charter.

DID YOU KNOW, OR HAVE AN INKLING, THAT YOU WOULD RUN DURING THE ELECTED MAYOR CAMPAIGN? I did. About a month before Election Day I was going door to door in Riverton and speaking with voters about the importance of consistent, accountable leadership and how the lack of it is negatively affecting the way our city operates. People were listening intently, they want to live in a better city and they know it’s been a lack of leadership that has hindered progress. I realized then that I have a place in this debate, and should we win the election I’d consider running.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE TOP THREE ISSUES FACING THE CITY? The most important issue facing the city today is how do we harness the momentum of Portland’s status as a rising star among the elite, small cities in America. Portland has done a poor job marketing itself to the world. Part of that is political, part of that is systemic — look how Eliot Cutler was slammed last fall for inviting Chinese business leaders to Maine — that line of thinking has to end if we hope to attract anything other than tourists.

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