By Raymond P. Diamond
Early in the afternoon of November 2, five days before election day in Portland, City Councilor and mayoral candidate Pious Ali called a press conference to make his case for why he should be the next mayor of Portland. Councilor Ali has held public office in Portland for ten years.
“ I look at things through a couple of equity lenses: racial equity, economic equity, [and] class … all the people who are marginalized in our community.”
— Pious Ali
With Councilor Ali were activist and poet Ali Ali, Rep. Grayson Lookner, restaurant owner Isai Galvez, former Portland Charter Commissioner Marcques Houston, Rep. Richard Farnsworth, and former Portland school board member, Tim Atkinson.
Ali Ali, Advocacy Director at Maine Youth Justice, strongly endorsed Councilor Ali. “He is the man to get the work done that needs to be done as the mayor of Portland,” he said.
Isai Galvez, a first-generation immigrant and construction site business owner, praised Ali for being driven by his faith to serve Portland and all of her residents.
Rep. Lookner agreed that Councilor Ali works for all residents of Maine – young people, working people, and people of color – not just one demographic or single constituency. And Lookner said that Portland needs Ali: “ If elected mayor, [he] will put forth the most ambitious housing plan, to move Portland toward a more ‘safe, stable [and] reasonable place to call home.”
Rep. Richard Farnsworth believes Ali has the right temperament for a mayor, noting that he talks to people, and listens well. And he is a consensus builder– a point made by most speakers at the press conference.
Tim Atkinson said that Ali acts with ‘deep integrity,’ and is focused on addressing climate change and housing issues within Portland. “It is clear how many lives he has touched during his time as a political, civil, and public figure in Maine…[he] “will work with Portland residents,” he said.
Marcques Houston described Pious Ali as a close friend and important mentor, noting that they met 14 years ago. Houston said that after working with Ali on the Charter Commission, he is sure that “[Councilor Ali] is the right person to move Portland towards a more successful, healthy, and liveable place for all.”
Ali Ali also spoke about the importance of Councilor Ali’s mentorship. Speaking from his personal experience of being incarcerated as a youth in Maine, he said that when he needed someone, Pious Ali was “by his side …[and] when an immigrant kid like me sees an immigrant leader like Pious, it matters.”
Mayoral candidate Pious Ali said he cares about everyone in Portland and represents the interests of all people in Portland, no matter their race, ethnicity, or place of origin. “ I look at things through a couple of equity lenses: racial equity, economic equity, [and] class … all the people who are marginalized in our community.”
“When I raise my hand to vote on something, it’s not specifically about one group or the other,” he told Amjambo Africa after the press conference closed out. “The rule of every elected person is to create an environment where everyone who lives within that environment… [is] taken care of, and that is what I have done [over] the past 10 years.”
Councilor Ali pointed out that voters from all walks of life – different economic, racial, and class backgrounds, including many white people – have voted over the past ten years to put Ali in office, first as school board member, and then as city councilor, where he is Portland’s longest-serving city councilor. On November 7, voters will decide whether or not to elect him as mayor of Portland.