Lyman Moore Middle School sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will be hosting a mayoral forum on Friday, Nov. 3, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the school cafeteria. All six candidates running Nov. 7 to be mayor of the city of Portland are expected to participate in the student-run forum. The six candidates include the five whose names are on the ballot: current Portland city councilors Pious Ali, Mark Dion and Andrew Zarro; former city councilor Justin Costa; and political newcomer Dylan Pugh. The sixth participant will be write-in candidate George Rheault, who also would be new to elected office in Portland.
The purpose of the mayoral forum is to inform students and encourage good citizenship. “When teaching civics, we like to focus on local elections so kids can actually meet the candidates and discuss issues they know about in our own community. It's more meaningful and personal this way,” said social studies teacher David Hilton, who is organizing the event, along with social studies teacher Adam Shaughnessy, student teacher Josephine Tibbetts, and teaching strategist Sarah Douglas.
"It's important that our young people become knowledgeable and gain experience in the many ways they can advocate for themselves and their communities,” Tibbetts said.
Student-led candidate forums are a tradition at Moore. They have included forums for candidates running for the Board of Public Education and City Council and mayor. In 2011, students hosted their first mayoral forum during a historic election year, when candidates were vying to become Portland’s first popularly elected mayor in nearly nine decades. When the mayor’s seat came up for election four years later, in 2015, and again in 2019, the school also hosted forums. Now, with the mayor’s seat in play again, Moore students are holding their fourth mayoral forum.
The candidates should be prepared for student questions that range from political to personal, and that run the gamut from serious to silly. Students will focus on topics important to them and their families.
The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 49.8 percent of the district’s students are white and 50.2 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.