David Brenermen – Portland City Councilor – District 5 Candidate

Name of Candidate:  David Brenerman

City Councilor Race: District 5

1. We believe locally owned businesses are critical to the city’s economic health. As a City Councilor what steps will you take to help the City of Portland maintain and grow locally owned businesses in Portland?

Response:  I very much endorse the Buy Local movement.  The large membership of Portland Buy Local is an indication of the breadth and depth of its support in the community.  There are several steps that the City has taken and can take to help locally owned businesses.

  • Capitalization of the Portland Development Corporation which makes loans to local businesses.  These loans have helped create jobs in Portland.
  • Food initiative: The City is purchasing local food for schools and the Barron Center.
  • The City can consider encouraging hotels to use local products and to offer their customers discounts to local restaurants, for example.  Hotels could market to their potential customers that they use local products.
  • The City can initiate additional purchasing policies that support local businesses.

2. Would you support the City of Portland providing additional funding and technical support to locally owned businesses and update the current plan to reflect this priority?

Response:  Yes, I would support funding and technical support to locally owned businesses.  The City is already involved in this through support of the Portland Development Corporation. I would urge the Mayor to expand his business visitation program which helps the City understand issues facing local businesses.

The City’s branding effort through, “Yes, life is good here” can be of benefit to local businesses.  And, the City’s high standing on various national ratings, such as “7th best beer city” or “Congress Street as one of America’s best streets,” to name two, can be utilized as promotional opportunities.  Both recognize the value of our locally owned businesses to our national reputation.

3. National chains are moving into Portland with increasing frequency. Would you be open to an ordinance that strikes a balance between economic development and preserving Portland’s strong independent business community?

Response:  Without seeing the specific language of such a hypothetical ordinance, I cannot comment or take a position at this time.  I do recall that the City adopted an ordinance a number of years ago that attempted to address the location of certain chain businesses in the Downtown, but subsequently had to repeal it because it didn’t work well. Whatever the City does on this matter, it must be done in a balanced way, with demonstration that there is a specific problem that requires a City solution, and after consideration of possible impacts on the community and on the business climate/local economy.  I am open to discussion of the need for an ordinance.

4. How would you improve public transportation to ensure residents can more easily access locally owned businesses throughout the city? If you don’t think this is critical, why not? 

Response:  One solution being studied for moving people within the City is a multi-modal facility near Thompson’s Point.  This would be the focal point for all forms of transportation and would provide flexibility to move citizens around the City.  Another proposal would be an on-demand transportation system, perhaps through a cell phone app.

We can also make METRO services more predictable and available.  Continuing to work with area municipalities to expand service would be wise.  We can also attract ridership by creating more bus shelters to protect users from the elements, improving the frequency of service along key arterials, and making bus routes, maps, and schedules more accessible in order to help encourage the casual user to take the bus.

Bus service requires City, regional, and even federal funding.   If there are proposals to improve the service offered, I am open to considering investments which have been demonstrated to create real benefits to Portland residents with an eye toward financial partnerships involving the region, the State, and the federal government.

5. What is your definition of a locally owned business and what are your top 3 favorite locally owned businesses?

Response:  I have reviewed the definition of a locally owned business on the Portland Buy Local website and agree with that description. Clearly, a locally-owned business would have ownership in the Portland area or in Maine that would have independent decision-making over the business.  Such a business would contribute to the economic strength of the community, create local jobs, keep a significant percentage of its money in the local community, and participate in the life of the City.

With respect to stating my 3 favorite locally owned businesses, I would prefer not to endorse any particular establishment.  However, I would say that I am a frequent shopper at the Portland Farmers’ Market, local bakeries, and neighborhood businesses.  In addition, my wife and I eat at a number of locally owned restaurants, including one owned by my nephew and niece in Downtown Portland.

Being a lifelong Portland resident, I have had family members who have owned grocery stores and bakeries, worked in locally-owned clothing shops and an appliance parts store, so I am very familiar with the issues faced by locally-owned businesses.

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