While Manchester’s mayoral race is still flying a bit under the radar, Portland is holding its first popular election for mayor in nearly a century. Until this election, the position of mayor has been ceremonial and selected by the City Council.
There are currently fifteen candidates running for the position, and at a recent debate most brought up different ways to improve and expand the transit system in Maine’s largest city. Some of the ideas are truly compelling–working regionally, eliminating fares, and building a streetcar line. Portland’s Rights of Way blog has a take on the various candidates and their stands on municipal transit.
The current political climate at the state and local level seems to preclude much discussion of improving and expanding the MTA in this year’s mayoral race, but hopefully things will be different by 2013. It’s discouraging to see Portland’s mayoral candidates talking about how to improve a transit system that is already much more robust and better funded than the MTA.
Better transit makes for better cities–better places to live, better places to work, better places to visit, and places better able to attract and retain residents, visitors, workers and businesses. It’s time for Manchester to rival Portland in that regard.