Portland Voters Pass Rent Control, Minimum Wage Referendums

Nov 4, 2020

Portland voters approved a raft of progressive ballot items Tuesday, including a boost in the minimum wage and new rent control measures.

They approved a cap on rent increases at the rate of inflation, supported a local version of the Green New Deal and barred the use of facial recognition software in the city.

By a vote of 60 percent to 39 percent, Portland residents approved a boost to $15 an hour in the minimum wage for workers within three years. If a civil emergency is declared by the city or state, minimum pay for some workers could rise to $18 an hour, as early as December.

The measures were backed by the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America. Opponents, including local developers, spent more than $600,000 to try to defeat them. Almost all were passed, but one measure to limit Airbnb-style rentals was defeated by fewer than 300 votes.

The initiative banning facial recognition technology was resoundingly approved by a vote of 65 percent to 35 percent.

The results amounted to a rebuke to the members of the Portland City Council, most of whom opposed the measures that voters approved.