Portland voters passed seven of 13 ballot questions on Election Day, but overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to dramatically change the city’s governance structure and duties of the mayor by a nearly 2-1 margin on Tuesday.
Voters also shot down a proposal that would have raised the minimum wage to $18 per hour, despite high-profile endorsements from high profile Democratic Party presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
More than $1.1 million of campaign donations entered the race for two political action committees — one of them advocating a ‘No’ vote on all 13 questions facing voters, while the other, funded by state and national restaurant lobbies, concentrated on defeating a wage increase.
Question 2, a proposal from the Charter Commission, would have changed the governmental structure of Portland by creating an executive mayor and reducing the powers of the city manager. The question failed at the ballot box 20,669 to 11,154, based on unofficial results. Nearly 65 percent of voters were against the proposal.
Question 5, which would have given the city’s school board autonomy over developing the school department budget, also failed. Voters shot it down 18,139 to 13,341, with more than 57 percent of the votes cast against it, per unofficial results
Questions 2, 5 in the Charter Commision proposals and referendum Question D — the proposal to increase the minimum wage — were hot-button issues in Portland, and saw huge amounts of outside spending in opposition funding flood into Portland from corporate donors like Uber and DoorDash.
The remaining six Charter Commission proposals passed handily with more than 60 percent favorability.
Question 1, a land acknowledgement with just under 65 percent of the vote.
Question 3, a proposal to enact clean elections in municipal races, passed with just over 65 percent.
Question 4, a proposal to adopt proportional ranked choice voting in certain races, received just under 64 percent of the vote.
Question 6, reaffirming the Peaks Island Council, with more than 66 percent of the vote.
Question 7, a proposal to create a new civilian police review board, passed with 61 percent of the vote.
And Question 8, a proposal to create an ethics commission in the city, passed with nearly 70 percent of the vote.
Voters passed one of five referenda put on the ballot by citizens initiative. They approved Question C, an act to protect tenants by tightening rent-control measures in the city, including ensuring they receive at least 90-days’ notice of lease termination or rent increase. It received roughly 55 percent of the vote.
The night was not nearly as good for the other four citizen initiative referendums that appeared on the ballot, three of which were campaigned by the Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, a left-liberal pro-labor organization.
Question D, the act to incrementally raise the minimum wage to $18 by 2025 and eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped and delivery workers failed. More than 61 percent of voters were against the question, which drew heavy opposition by a well funded restaurant lobby group which raised nearly half a million dollars from hospitality groups and national rideshare companies.
Question B, an attempt to regulate short-term rentals by the DSA, failed by a similar margin where just over 55 percent of voters were against it. Question A, the only question not from the DSA and an attempt to regulate short-term rentals in the city run by commercial and out-of-state groups, failed 11,249 to 14,440.
And Question E, a proposal to restrict the number of passengers who can disembark from a cruise ship in Portland, failed by nearly a 3-1 margin. Nearly 73 of the votes cast were in opposition. This wasn’t surprising, as the question had little active backing after the DSA abandoned support for the proposal in hopes of working out a stronger deal with the city.