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Facing eviction, Ethan Strimling says he's being targeted for organizing Portland tenants

Troy R. Bennett
Bangor Daily News
Ethan Strimling in Nov. 2019.

Former Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling faces eviction, but he's fighting the action in district court, alleging it's an act of retaliation.

Strimling has lived at the turn-of-the-century Trelawny Building for six years — always paying his rent, he says — but late last year received notice that his lease would not be renewed.

He says he is being targeted because he organized and leads a tenant's union that has filed complaints against landlord Geoffrey Rice for allegedly violating the city's recent rent-control law. Strimling's lawyer, Scott Dolan, says the longtime progressive politician has the ability to raise his voice when other tenants might not be able to take the risk.

"The way we view this is (as) a bigger issue of fighting for tenants rights and the rights of tenants to assemble and to approach the government — in this case the city — and say, 'There's a problem here,'" Dolan says.

A lawyer for Rice said he would not comment on pending litigation. The president of an area landlord's association did not have comment on the particular case, but he says the board that administers the rent control ordinance so far is doing so inconsistently.