Portland mayoral candidate Kate Snyder speaks during a campaign event at Carter Field on the Eastern Prom on Sunday. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Nonprofit director and former Portland school board chairwoman Kate Snyder on Sunday unveiled a roster of supporters in her bid for mayor, capping a week in which two of the other three candidates gathered some of Portland’s leading voices into their respective corners.

Appearing on the Eastern Prom in running gear fresh from the “Trail for Ale” 10K race, Snyder touted her experience in Portland schools and education nonprofits. She promised to bring a collaborative spirit to City Hall, which has seen conflict between the City Council and mayor, who since 2010 has been elected by popular vote.

“I’m running because, starting about four years ago, I would pick up the morning newspaper and I would marvel at what was happening in City Hall,” she said. She said that disputes involving Mayor Ethan Strimling, the council and City Manager Jon Jennings create a “slowdown to decision-making.”

“I am in this for the public service,” she said. “I’m not in it for the politics.”

Snyder, a former two-term member of the Portland Board of Public Education from 2007 to 2013, is executive director of the Foundation for Portland Schools, a nonprofit that supports educational opportunities for city students. She announced her candidacy in March.

Portland City Councilor Justin Costa introduces mayoral candidate Kate Snyder, right, during a campaign event Sunday at Carter Field on the Eastern Prom. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

City Councilors Kim Cook and Justin Costa spoke on her behalf at Sunday’s event, along with John Naylor, co-owner of Rosemont Market and Bakery, and several parents of Portland students whose trust Snyder earned in her years on the school board.

“Kate is of the highest character,” Costa said. “I’ve seen Kate in easy times, I’ve seen Kate in tough times, and her fundamental decency, her honesty and her character have always shone through.”

Bill Weber, a retired environmental engineer whose children went through Portland schools when Snyder served them, praised her skills as a “listener” in contrast to the present mayor-council relationship.

“We need a reset on that position,” he said of the mayor’s office.

In an interview after the news conference, Snyder said that fiscal responsibility was a priority of hers but declined to identify any areas where she thought savings could be found.

The event followed endorsement rollouts by two other mayoral candidates.

Last week, City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau announced endorsements from a majority of the council — Brian Batson, Jill Duson, Nicholas Mavodones, Belinda Ray and Costa, who appears to be backing two candidates in the ranked-choice vote.

Two days later, incumbent Strimling countered with a news conference in front of City Hall, with City Councilor Pious Ali and a slew of school board members, state legislators and mayors of other Maine cities behind him.

Snyder and her supporters Sunday knocked her opponents without mentioning them by name, criticizing disagreements between the mayor and council members and promising that Snyder would put them to rest.

In an email Sunday to the Portland Press Herald, Thibodeau agreed that city voters wanted a more collaborative spirit, but said they also were looking for a candidate with City Hall experience.

“What I’m hearing from Portland voters as I knock on doors throughout the city is that they’re tired of divisive politics,” he wrote.

“I believe Portland needs someone with City Hall experience and a proven track record of collaborating with members of the council, the community, the city manager and city staff. I am honored to have the support of a majority of my colleagues on the council and I will work tirelessly every day to restore faith in the mayor’s position for all Portlanders.”

Strimling said he made no apologies for fighting for Portland voters’ priorities.

“The people of the city want a mayor who’s going to listen to them and bring their voice into City Hall, someone who will fight for what they’re looking for and achieve results,” he said in a phone interview Sunday. “That’s what I have done for four years. That’s what I will do for four more. We would not have been able to get the school bond passed and property tax relief for seniors passed and a ban on pesticides passed and an increase in wages for workers passed if we weren’t willing to fight for it.”

The fourth candidate, Travis Curran, a waiter in a Portland restaurant, could not be reached for comment.

The election is scheduled for Nov. 5.


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