South Portland Mayor Deqa Dhalac

Why did you decide to become a candidate this year? 

I decided to run for this seat when my State Representative, Victoria Morales, decided not to run again after four years of service. 

If elected, what would be your three main priorities? 

Affordable and safe housing, fully funded public education for all Maine children, and affordable healthcare for all Mainers. 

How do you think Maine is doing in terms of addressing the wrongs of systemic racism? What steps should we be taking that we are not? 

It will take a lot of effort to address systemic racism in Maine and in any state in the U.S.A. I will support any legislation addressing this issue. 

What experience do you have that makes you believe you are the right person to hold this office? 

I came to the U.S.A. 30 years ago, and I have been helping the immigrant community for civic engagement and voter registration. I hold two master’s degrees: development policy and practice, and social work. I am the first immigrant, Black Muslim woman elected twice for city council in South Portland and in Maine. I am the first Somali American mayor in the United States. I believe I have earned my place to be the best person to hold this office and in any political office that I seek in the future. 

What, if any, elected offices have you held and what accomplishments would you like to highlight? 

South Portland City Council, 2018-23, Mayor of South Portland 2021-22 

What do you believe should be done to address Maine’s affordable housing crisis? 

My district has been feeling the crunch of the housing crisis. As mayor of South Portland, I led the effort to pass a cap on rent increases and a temporary eviction moratorium. We need to continue supporting efforts to build more affordable housing (that meet energy efficiency standards). We also need to look at ways to make sure our existing housing infrastructure is being put to the best possible use to serve our communities, and support policies that give renters some protection to stay in their housing when possible. 

What is your position on efforts to close the remaining gaps in access to MaineCare for immigrants? 

More immigrants are eligible for MaineCare now, more than ever, thanks to Gov. Janet Mills’s leadership. I will support any legislation to cover more immigrants for MaineCare in the future. 

Election Day 2022 is Tuesday, November 8. This is called  “midterm election” because it is halfway between presidential elections, which are held every four years. In Maine municipalities with more than 500 residents, polling places open between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.; in towns and cities with fewer than 500 residents, polling opens between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Check local information to learn what time your polling place opens. All Maine polls close at 8 p.m.  

Both of Maine’s U.S. House representatives – Chellie Pingree in the First District and Jared Golden in the Second District – are running for re-election. They both have opponents who would like to hold these seats. Maine uses ranked choice voting for federal offices, which means you may rank your first, second, and other choices on your ballot.  

Every seat in the Maine House and Maine Senate is on the ballot in even-numbered years. Some races are between incumbents (people who hold that office) and challengers (people who would like to hold it). Some races may have no incumbent and be between two or more people who would like to represent that district.  

Voters in some places will be asked to select candidates for local offices, such as city council and school board, and countywide offices like county commissioners, sheriffs, and others.  

Ballots often include “ballot measures,” which are questions proposed by the Legislature or by citizens, and may be different in different locations. Voters select “yes” or “no.”  

Amjambo Africa is highlighting Maine’s BIPOC candidates. This month features Deqa Dhalac, candidate for State House District 120, South Portland, and Regina Phillips, candidate for Portland City Council District 3. Look for more candidates in the November issue, which will be published in late October.  

Be sure to register to vote! Every U.S. citizen is eligible to register. Contact city or town clerk offices for details, or consult the information in Amjambo’s election feature.The Secretary of State section of includes voting details, links to local offices, and advance planning information about how to vote if you can’t go to a polling place on Election Day.