In January, 2022, the member run, member funded Maine chapter of Democratic Socialists of America voted at their semi-annual convention to establish a local campaign in Portland that would seek to get a number of referendum questions on the ballot for the November elections. This campaign would become known as Maine DSA for a Livable Portland. In the end, after some discussion with local unions, that campaign committee decided to support three questions aimed at reforming a number of issues affecting Portland’s working class: the bloated short term rental market (Question B), tenant rights (Question C), and minimum wage (Question D)

In recent weeks it has come out that one of the main opponents to Livable Portland, a political action committee called Enough is Enough, has spent around $25,000 on a D.C. lobbying firm called Cornerstone to help them combat these working class reforms. Livable Portland also did some digging and reported that they found metadata indicating Enough is Enough brought on Lance Dutson, a former Susan Collins operative and one time CEO of conservative think tank Maine Policy Institute, to help lead their efforts to stifle working class change. And lastly, on October 5th, Enough is Enough filed their list of cash contributors, and it shows they have raised around a half million dollars, much of which comes from landlords, conservative industry PACs, as well as Uber and DoorDash, two companies that rely on poorly paid gig workers. It’s presumed these giant corporations are afraid that an increased minimum wage that includes all workers will set a precedent where they’re expected to actually pay their workers a fair livable wage. 

INTERVIEW

Now that you’re all caught up on the brief history of Livable Portland, please enjoy this interview with two of its lead organizers, Wes Pelletier and Ethan Strimling. They discuss why these referendum questions were chosen, the volunteers who made up this effort, and the monied opposition trying to stop them from instituting these reforms. If you would like to get involved with Livable Portland, you can do so here. If you would like to donate, you can do so here.

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