There is a clear danger in anticipating a new year and looking for some hope as we turn the calendar from the disaster of 2021. The year just past was marred by sharp political dysfunction and an unrelenting pandemic that has claimed more than 800,000 lives in this country.
And yet, it is our nature to hold on to hope as we foresee a year that at a minimum, will be a decisive political year both in Portland and statewide. And clashes in Washington, and the constant acrimony between the two major parties, present a historic challenge to our system of government.
On the local front, this year will bring the culmination of the work of the Portland Charter Commission, a major project that seeks to overhaul the governmental structure of the city of Portland. Some changes, like the rethinking of the power dynamics of an elected mayor and a city administrative figure, are overdue and are welcome. While we agree the current structure needs to be revamped, we hope the commission can finish its work without the intrusion of personal attacks that have already threatened it, and which also have crept increasingly into Portland’s political scene.
And 2022 will be the year that we will see if former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican who “was Trump before Trump was Trump,” succeeds in his plan to retake the Blaine House. Gov. Janet Mills has a strong record to run on, but Democrats should not underestimate the residual Republican anger at the decisions she had to make during an unprecedented pandemic.
And very close to home, we are pleased that our new Portland Phoenix, which launched in the pre-pandemic months of late 2019, continued to grow in 2021 despite the obstacles. Our advertising has grown, up 40 percent last year, and we continue to believe that a free newspaper, with strong local news, opinion, and arts content, can thrive in this difficult news environment. We have received awards for general excellence that confirm we are on the right track.
Observers note that the nature of news consumption is changing and that many people are reducing their news diets in the face of plates filled with bad news. But this year will be important, and we hope that the readers and advertisers who have found us in our first two years of publication will stick with us. And we are forever grateful for their support.
From all of us at the Phoenix, we wish you the best of the New Year.