Jon Torsch, democratic socialist, entered the race for Portland City Council to represent District 2 this past Friday. Torsch currently serves on the executive board of the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America.
“Portland is a unique city known nationwide for its neighborhoods, its beauty and its hard-working people, said Torsch in a press release. “However, property developers, real estate professionals and private business owners have infiltrated our city council and exploited our planning board to sell our city off, forcing housing costs and property taxes up and the people who work here out.”
“Portland has seen a lot of disruption between its inhabitants and the private investors buying up property. Recent conflicts have included a rezoning to build a massive cold storage facility, a company named T International buying up properties around the homeless shelter in the hopes that it gets pushed out of town and all of St. John Valley being steamrolled for a massive expansion to Maine Medical Center, which will ultimately yield no additional beds.
With regard to his platform, Torsch continued: “We need a council that will advocate for policies that lead us toward democratic socialism – to provide affordable workforce housing, democratically controlled workplace, better wages and increased access to public services like libraries and transportation. These aren’t politically radical ideas, but the moneyed interests extracting capital from our city would argue otherwise – and the politicians who have enabled this would as well.”
Torsch is also pledging to run a clean campaign, not taking money from any out-of-state donors, nor from PAC’s, corporations or real estate developers. Portland does not currently have any clean election or public funding policy, but Torsch has pledged that once in office he will work to develop a municipal clean elections policy. In addition to making municipal data (such as fundraising reports, election history, etc.) digitilzed and readily accessible to the public.
The only other candidate in the race so far is one-term incumbent real estate lawyer Spencer Thibodeau. As of July 13th, Thibodeau had raised $8,124.55 one half of which has been contributed by individuals tied to the real estate industry. The election will be held on November 6th.