City Council Buckles to Voting Amendment Foes for Fall Ballot


Acting Mayor Pious Ali at the Podium During the Non-citizen Voting Debate.

Anna Trevorrow, Chair of the Portland Board of Public Education, Testified in Support of the Charter Amendment Tonight.

Excuses, excuses and more excuses!

That’s all the Portland city council offered as justifications for why it could not support an effort to permit  the non-citizen voting question to appear on the November ballot.  In one of the most shameful decisions this blogger has seen in ten (10) years of often covering city council actions, this is top drawer.  The conservative gaggle of legislators voted overwhelmingly to remand the non-citizen voting charter amendment to the Legislative Committee – an action intended to kill the idea in committee by relegating it to oblivion.

Joshua Chaisson, Launched one of the More Distasteful Attacks Against the Resolution.

When city councilor Ali got to city hall this evening he learned that he did not have sufficient votes for the passage of his proposal so he did  not ask for a vote.  Apparently nervous about the liberalizing affect that adding qualified immigrant voters to the roles of Portland voters, the majority of long-winded councilors scrambled for excuses to deny them local voting rights.  For a conservative council, that’s scary.

City councilors trying to have it both ways included Duson, Mavadones, Costa, Thibodeau, Ray and Cook.  They tried to put a straight face on what was clearly an effort to deny the public an opportunity to express their own views by refusing to let voters vote.  Media (Nick) Mavadones said he could not support the Resolution because he “found out about it from the press.”  That’s odd, isn’t it?  He plays up to the media all the time. “Media”, who has been on the Council for 21 years, is being challenged by Munjoy Hill’s own Joey Brunelle.  Brunelle called out an extensive list of countries that permit immigrants to vote in local elections.  Another candidate for council this fall, Jon Torsh, said in part:                                                         Torsh is running for the seat that Spencer Thibodeau now holds.

Barbara Kaufman, co-president of the Portland League of  Women Voters, made some points for the council to ponder: “In the years right after the Civil War, 12 states explicitly enfranchised immigrant aliens who had declared their intention to become naturalized but had no yet been made citizens.  Voting by non-citizens was “widely practiced and not extraordinarily controversial…..Secondly, a central provision of representative democracy is that those effected by decisions should have a role in making those decisions.  Non-citizen residents of Portland use city services, pay city taxes, send their children to Portland schools and they are asking to be able to influence the decisions that affect them.  Recognizing this value, non-citizens vote in 12 jurisdictions in the US (San Francisco, 10 towns in Maryland and in local school council elections in Chicago).”

Kaufman continued:  “Another four towns in Massachusetts have passed local laws but await state enabling legislation to implement…..Third, as an organization founded by leaders for women’s suffrage, we recognize a historical irony at this moment.  Men had to vote to extend the right to vote to women, and citizens would have to vote for their non-citizen neighbors to join them in voting for municipal elections.  This history leads us to take very seriously any group that believes they should be able to vote.  We need to acknowledge the privilege we have to speak and choose on behalf of those without that power.  We urge the council to take your responsibility in this regard very seriously.” The League of Women Voters is not permitted to take an official position on anyone’s candidacy.

Irony?  Long-time city councilor Jill Duson, a black women, failed to support the immigrant community – many of whom are black.  In fact, she was first out of the box to reject the proposal.  “I do not support non-citizen vote.  It is not ready for the ballot,” she added as an afterthought.

“What a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts!”

The Portland School Board voted to support the Resolution of Councilor Pius Ali previously.  Please visit post herein dated August 7, 2018 for more information.


2 thoughts on “City Council Buckles to Voting Amendment Foes for Fall Ballot

  1. This was wrong and I can not believe you supported it. You used to be a good reporter and would write objectively. Not anymore I guess. I’m through here and will never be back. You lost me.

    • Stella Hernandez, Please believe it – it’s true. Secondly, I’m tried of repeating this but I will once again because and your husband are so special to me and of course your fabo restaurant on the Hill. I’m not a reporter, good bad or indifferent. As I’ve said often on my blog I’m a blogger, apparently a bad one at that! I’m heartbroken about this breakup. Are you a racist? Carol

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