“The Council had its chance. It is time for action.” - Press Release

Almost 20 groups, representing thousands of Portlanders, respond to the Mayor and Council opposing five citizen-driven referendums. 

October 13, 2020 PORTLAND, ME - Today, Mayor Kate Snyder and seven city councilors, came out against Portland’s citizen-driven ballot initiative process. In a staggering attack on direct democracy, Mayor Snyder and councilors Mavodones, Duson, Ray, Thibodeau, Chong, Costa, and Cook all indicated that they agree with the goals of People First Portland’s initiatives A-E, but that they disagree that Portland citizens should be able to develop policy solutions, even in the face of the the Council consistently coming up short in addressing the challenges our city faces. When and where they came to this conclusion, as well as if public input was sought, is unclear, as there was no public notice provided for the meeting where this decision was made.

In response to the Council statement, the below groups released the following statements:

"I have spent years advocating for tangible resolutions to city officials, with no resolution. From speaking at their meetings, to an encampment on their steps, no matter what we do, they still lack the urgency that those who are directly impacted feel every day." - Jess Falero, Maine People's Housing Coalition

“Our city is at a crisis. If we allow the current patterns to continue, we’re gonna lose what makes Portland such a great place to live. At the Portland Dems, our membership is proud to support and uplift local direct democratic efforts like People First Portland. Power imbalances in this city need to be addressed in order for us to have an equitable thriving democracy and our members urge everyone to vote yes for the Green New Deal, Rent Control, and the ban on Facial Surveillance.” - Evan LeBron, Vice Chair, Portland Democratic Committee

“Portlanders have asked their Councilors to act on these issues in some shape or form for years. While the Council engages in the typical paralysis by analysis, Portland becomes less and less livable for working families. It's no wonder grassroots organizations across the spectrum have banded together, reached out to subject matter experts and taken matters right to those directly impacted - the voters. Honestly, what did the Council expect?" - Jason J. Shedlock, Regional Organizer with the Laborers' International Union.

“Back in 2016 we made the following statement in support of municipal minimum wage increase. We said: Portland’s motto, “Life’s good here” does not apply to low wage workers. But the City has a chance to take an important step towards changing that. Now in 2020, our sentiments largely remain the same, which is why we enthusiastically support the People First Portland Referendum.” - Dana Colihan, Southern Maine Workers Center

“It’s time for the Council to stop passing the buck to Augusta and Washington, D.C.. We need bold action to stop global warming, make housing more affordable, and reduce the massive gap between rich and poor. That is why we support yes votes on A-E.”  - Progressive Portland 

“As a Co-Chair of the Portland Green Independent Committee, I was approached by our DSA allies for consultation and discussion about the Green New Deal referendum back in the spring. The Mayor and council members’ characterization of ‘crafting language in secret’ flies in the face of what we experienced.” - Justin Beth, PGIC Co-Chair

Direct democracy is the language of the unheard. If our council truly worked in the interests of the people, there would be no unhoused people on our streets; people would earn a living wage, and Black and Brown communities would not fear the use of technology that draws them into the criminal justice system due to errors in its design. Homeowners would not have to rent apartments to tourists to afford property taxes. Renters would not have to do the same to afford rent. And Portland would be a leader in the fight against climate change, not lagging more than a decade behind. The “deliberative process” that the council proclaims to value so much has failed the people time and again. It’s time to vote with your heart: YES on A-E.    

People First Portland’s coalition partners and endorsers Include: Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council, New England Regional Council of Carpenters, International Union of Operating Engineers Local #4, Local 327 Laborers, Maine People’s Housing Coalition, Black P.O.W.E.R., Southern Maine Workers’ Center, Southern Maine DSA, DSA, Portland Maine Green Party, Progressive Portland, Our Revolution Maine, Fair Rent Portland, Homeless Voices for Justice (Endorses A, B, D, E), Fight For the Future (Endorses B), Portland Maine Democratic City Committee (Endorses B, C, and D), and the ACLU of Maine (Endorses B).

 

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“This is us taking control and bringing it directly to the people.”