Ethan Strimling

Jay Field / MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine - A former state lawmaker and longtime political commentator is taking on incumbent Michael Brennan in this fall's Portland mayoral race. Ethan Strimling narrowly lost to Brennan four years ago. Brennan submitted signatures for his re-election a few hours after Strimling's announcement.

The day of maneuvering aimed at Portland's top job began on a sweltering street corner. Ethan Strimling lives at the corner of Spring and Brackett Streets, a short walk from LearningWorks, the community education and mental health agency he runs.

Stock image showing two men arguing about politics, ostensibly.

The Maine Council of Churches is sponsoring a series of discussions around the issue of civil discourse in public and political life. A panel of experts convened recently to discuss this issue addressing questions such as what is civil discourse and what is not; when is negativity uncivil, is it possible to run a civil campaign, and is there a danger of civil discourse being used as an excuse to suppress radical opinions?