Arcade bar owner, MECA student join Portland mayoral race

Ben Culver, 33, co-owner at Arcadia National Bar, is running to be Portland's next mayor.

Ben Culver, 33, co-owner at Arcadia National Bar, is running to be Portland’s next mayor. BDN file photo by Troy R. Bennett.

As the deadline for ballot qualification nears, three more residents have taken out nomination papers to join Portland’s mayoral contest, bringing the total number of contenders to eight.

The latest crop of candidates includes Benjamin Culver, 33, co-owner of Arcadia National Bar, and Brendan Glass, a 21-year-old junior at Maine College of Art. Karl Nordli, a resident of the Deering Center neighborhood, has also taken out nomination papers.

Culver, an East Bayside resident and member of the WMPG board of directors, said in an interview Monday that his No. 1 priority is an increased emphasis on community policing, what he called “police on feet.” He also said he was running because the city needs more young people in leadership.

“It’s a young person’s job,” he said of the mayor’s chair. “We need younger people involved throughout the city, and in politics in general.”

Glass, who is studying metalsmithing and jewelry making, said he is most concerned with sustainability and green energy. He said he felt compelled to run for mayor “to give people a new option.”

“I’ve always been interested in local politics, but I was reading an article about the current candidates, and about how nobody is really interested in them,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday. “I thought I’d give it a shot.”

Nordli did not list an email address in his application for nomination papers, and the phone number he listed is no longer in service. Efforts to reach Nordli via Facebook were unsuccessful on Monday.

To qualify for the ballot in November, candidates must return at least 300 certifiable signatures from Portland residents to City Hall by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24.

The other five candidates to have taken out nomination papers include incumbent Mayor Michael Brennan; Portland Green Independent Party chairman Tom MacMillan; City Councilor Ed Suslovic; Portland firefighter and Washington Avenue resident Chris Vail; and Zouhair Bouzara, who lives in the city’s Parkside neighborhood.

Brennan, a former state senator, is widely perceived as the front-runner in the race, but observers have mused about a how potential run by Learning Works director Ethan Strimling, also a former lawmaker, could affect the race.

Brennan and Strimling both led a crowded field of candidates in 2011, with Brennan winning with about 55 percent of the vote after an instant run-off election that saw Strimling finish in second place.

Strimling has not ruled out a second run for mayor, and has said he’ll make an announcement about the race on Tuesday.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.