City News

Posted on: January 10, 2017

Mayor Outlines Policy Direction in Second State of the City Address

Mayor Ethan K. Strimling delivered his second State of the City address on January 9, 2017. The address focused heavily on the city’s strengths as well as the policy directions the Mayor would like to implement to meet existing challenges. It was developed based on hundreds of conversations that the Mayor had with constituents throughout the city.

“This speech is for those who strive to make Portland the best it can be. It is their vision and I am proud to bring it to you,” said Mayor Strimling. 

In the speech Mayor Strimling outlined six major policies he’d like the city to pursue, including the rebuilding of city schools, ensuring workers’ earned paid sick time, building more middle class housing, providing targeted property tax relief, protecting our environment, and ensuring an inclusive Portland by expanding municipal voting rights to all legal residents. Additionally, he outlined numerous other specific policy goals surrounding affordable housing, our shelters, economic development, job training, substance use treatment, community policing, housing insecurity,and basic quality of life issues such as curb cuts, investments in our parks and gender neutral bathrooms among others.

21st Century Learning Environments - Rebuilding our Elementary Schools

As Mayor Strimling highlighted in his address, nothing has more bearing on the future of our city than how we treat the next generation of Portlanders. Strimling reiterated his firm commitment to give the voters a voice in rebuilding our crumbling elementary schools. Strimling stated, “Soon we will formally ask this Council to send to the voters a package that will ensure our children are spending their most formative years in 21st century learning environments. We must ensure that a child’s address does not dictate his or her educational experience.”

A Safe, Healthy Workforce - Earned Paid Sick Time
Mayor Strimling also put forth a policy to ensure workers in Portland can earn time off to care for their physical health and safety. “Thousands of workers in Portland can’t even earn one paid day off to care for their own medical well being or that of their child,” said Strimling. “When you are barely able to make ends meet...missing even one day of pay can send a family into a spiral of economic instability. In 2017, I will call upon this Council to follow the lead of states around the country, including Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut, and dozens of municipalities nationwide to work with the business community to implement an earned paid sick day policy for anyone who works in our city.”

Affordable Housing - Increase Inclusionary Zoning to 20%

While progress has been made on understanding the issues surround Portland’s housing crunch, Mayor Strimling advocated for more bold solutions to protect our middle class. “...while I’m calling for more supply by increasing building density and height...we also need to lock in a substantial number of new or renovated units as affordable to our average working families...I plan to call upon this Council to increase our inclusionary zoning requirement from the 10 percent that is currently in statute to 20 percent.” 

Tax Relief - Targeted Property Tax Relief for Seniors

In his speech, Mayor Strimling addressed the needs of Portland’s fixed-income seniors. “No group is feeling the pinch of a rising tax rate more than our senior citizens on fixed incomes. Our elders, many of whom literally built our city, are seeing increases in costs without an accompanying increase in their pocketbooks.” Strimling added, “It is time for Portland to join municipalities like South Portland and Cumberland in providing this much needed relief.”  

A Sustainable City - 100% Clean Energy City by 2040

On the topic of environmental health, Mayor Strimling urged the Council and the community to think big, because “we must always remind ourselves that when ensuring a sustainable future, we will not get there by conventional thinking and traditional methods.” He advocated for a complete update of the city’s decade-old Climate Action Plan and will challenge the Council and the city to include a new goal of 100% clean energy by the year 2040. Strimling stated, “We can reach [the goal] by continuing to expand our solar efficiency…[and] private sector incentives…” 

An Inclusive City - Legal Immigrant Voting Rights
To further actualize the goal of being an inclusive city, Mayor Strimling urged the re-opening of a conversation that took place in Portland several years ago around allowing legal immigrants who are not yet citizens to vote in municipal elections. “Allowing neighbors who are already full-fledged, tax paying members of our society a voice in their local government is not only fair and just, it is vital to our truly being a democracy that is representative of the entirety of its population.”

Other policy initiatives Mayor Strimling outlined include support for: 

  • A revamping of Portland’s shelter system

  • Ensuring local hires and paying a livable wage for TIFs

  • A building trades job training facility

  • A youth workforce apprenticeship program

  • Creating a business incubator to facilitate the expansion of our local economy 

  • Body cameras for use within our police department

  • Reviewing the Police Citizen Review Subcommittee

  • Holding property tax increase to 2.5% in this year’s budget

  • Exploring Magnet Schools

  • All Day Universal Pre-K

  • USM’s campus expansion 

  • 911 Good Samaritan ordinance

  • Policies to ensure the safety of undocumented neighbors 

  • 90-Day notice for tenants

  • Eliminating voucher discrimination

  • More “Housing First” projects

  • Fortifying the India Street Health Clinic

  • More residential treatment beds for those struggling with addiction 

  • Holding firm on the voters will to eliminate the sub-minimum wage in our service industry

  • Expanded and more inclusive community access and input via evening hours at City Hall, the designation of a gender neutral bathroom in the building and a more public- facing budget formulation process

“I know that together we will set priorities in a way that never diverts our course toward the lower hurdle of what is simply easy,” stated Strimling. “Because it is when we’re striving, straying from our comfort zone, and stretching beyond our perceived capabilities that we’re at our best.”

Mayor Strimling concluded his remarks by saying: “When we have to make choices, let’s make sure our needs are met first, because when our needs are met, I daresay we will actually have achieved what we want.”

State of the City Address - Full Text
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