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Rent control, Pine Tree Power top of mind for some Portland voters

Voters entering the polling station at the Expo building in Portland on Tuesday.
Ari Snider
Maine Public
Voters entering the polling station at the Expo building in Portland on Tuesday.

After casting a ballot at the Expo building Tuesday morning, Max Sanchi said she's against a proposal to exempt landlords who own nine or fewer rental units from the city's rent control ordinance.

"I think there shouldn't be like a weird exception to rent control if you own less than nine buildings," she said. "Because nine buildings is still a lot of buildings."

Voter Frank Turek said the city's housing struggles were also top of mind for him in local races - including the mayoral contest in Maine's largest city.

"Housing has always been an issue," he said. "It still is and will continue to be, so anyone that has some some good ideas about dealing with that is always important to get them in place so they can try to alleviate that situation."

At the state level, voters were split over the Pine Tree Power amendment, which would create a public entity to buy out and administer the state's electric grid. Central Maine Power and Versant - the companies that currently own and run the grid - have spent more than $30 million opposing the measure.

Some said they supported the measure as a way to increase oversight of the grid. Others cited governor Janet Mills' opposition to the proposal as their reason for voting against it.

Portland resident Randy Ferrell said it was a complicated issue to consider.

"On the one hand, it sounds like 'yeah, we should take over our own power and we should be in control,'" he said. "But the other thing is, [what] does that look like? What are we prepared for? What are we not prepared for?"

In the end, he said he ended up voting no.

Along with eight statewide referendum questions, voters across Maine are considering contested mayoral and city council races as well as local issues.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct language of the rent control question, which would have exempted landlords who own nine or fewer units, not nine or fewer buildings.