Ex-mayor says he was evicted for organizing tenants

April 12, 2022 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The lawyer for the former mayor of Maine’s largest city made the case in court on Tuesday that his client was served an eviction notice in retaliation for organizing on behalf of tenants.

Ethan Strimling, the mayor of Portland from 2015 to 2019, appeared in court. He was served with the eviction notice last year and refused to leave.

Strimling’s case has gone to court because his landlord, Geoffrey Rice, started legal proceedings to make him leave. Strimling’s attorney, Scott Dolan, said during opening statements in the case that the eviction was “a clear case of retaliation” for organizing the tenants’ union, the Bangor Daily News reported.

Rice’s attorney, David Chamberlain, said during his own opening statement that the eviction was about economics. Rice offered an example that Strimling violated a section of his lease by leaving his window open in April. That presented a potential cost for Rice, who paid the heating bill.

Portland voters passed a rent control ordinance in November 2020. That ordinance encouraged residents to organize.