James I. Cohen: Public Service

Education and Community Service

Mr. Cohen grew up in Portland, received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and his J.D. from the Columbia School of Law. As a Portland resident, Mr. Cohen has served on numerous community boards, including a term as president of Portland Trails; founding president of the North Deering Neighborhood Association; and vice president of budget and finance for the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Cohen is a former trustee of the Maine Public Spending Research Group and the Maine Association of Mediators. As a board member of the Portland Regional Chamber, he helped spearhead the Chamber's effort to establish a regional economic development authority in partnership with the Metro Regional Coalition.

Political Experience

From 2002 to 2008, Mr. Cohen served on the Portland City Council, including a term as Mayor of Maine's largest city. During his tenure, Mr. Cohen successfully spearheaded initiatives ranging from expanding Portland's creative economy, to helping form and then chairing a six-community partnership called the Metro Regional Coalition; to helping form a Joint Task Force to address renovation of the Cumberland County Civic Center; to hosting two regional bus transit summits in collaboration with MaineDOT and the Governor; to developing the Volunteer Portland website and eContact constituent services system; to chairing committees to renovate a local elementary school and expand the Portland International Jetport. As Mayor, Mr. Cohen organized the Sustainable Portland Task Force and was the first mayor in Maine to sign onto the U.S. Conference of Mayor's Climate Action Plan in 2006. He received a Service for the Environment Award from the Sierra Club for his efforts. Mr. Cohen also established the Mayor's Healthy Portland Task Force to promote walking and biking and to curb public smoking; in recognition of these efforts, Mr. Cohen received the Ruth M. Shaper Memorial Award from the Maine Association of Public Health. Mr. Cohen was the first-ever chair of the City Council's Transportation Committee, and in 2006 he served as vice-chair of the Community and Faith-Based Initiatives Task Force of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Mr. Cohen presided over the formation of a regional crime lab, which is now named after him and former Portland Police Chief Timothy Burton and received a commendation from the Portland Police Department for his efforts. Mr. Cohen chaired the City Council's Finance Committee and Cumberland County's Budget Advisory Committee. As Mayor, Mr. Cohen hosted a monthly call-in cable television program, and during his six years of public service frequently appeared on television, on the radio, or in the local press – including as a columnist in a local newspaper. From 2009-10, Mr. Cohen served as vice-chair of the Portland Charter Commission, and was the top vote-getter in the election to the Commission.

Public Service

Mayor, City of Portland (2005 - 2006)
Portland City Council (2002 - 2008)
Portland Charter Commission, Vice Chair (2009 - 2010)
Portland Regional Chamber, Chair (2012 - 2014) Trustee (2008 - present)
Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Trustee (2009 - present)
Maine Public Spending Research Group, Trustee (2005 - 2008)
U.S. Conference of Mayors, Community and Faith-Based Initiatives Task Force, Vice Chair (2006)
Portland Trails, President (1997 - 1998), Advisory Trustee (2002 - )
Portland Symphony Orchestra, VP of Budget and Finance (1999 - 2002)
Portland City Council Finance Committee, Chair (2006 - 2008)
Metro Regional Coalition, Chair (2007 - 2008)
Cumberland County Budget Advisory Committee, Chair (2005)
Downtown Portland Corporation (2005 - 2006)
Portland City Council, Community Development Committee (2002 - 2005; 2007 - 2008)
Creative Economy Steering Committee, Chair (2007 - 2008)
Portland City Council Transportation Committee, Chair (2002 - 2005)
Jetport Master Planning Committee, Chair (2005 - 2007)
Greater Portland Transit District, Trustee (2002 - 2005)
Narrow Gauge Rail Alignment Committee, Chair (2005)
Sustainable Portland Task Force (2006 - 2007)
Portland City Council, Energy and Sustainability Committee (2007 - 2008)
Riverton School Building Committee, Co-Chair (2005 - 2006)
Cumberland County Civic Center Joint Task Force (2006 - 2010)
Mayor's Healthy Portland Task Force (2006 - 2008)
Communities Putting Prevention to Work (ARRA program), Leadership Council (2010 - )
North Deering Neighborhood Assoc., Founding Pres. (2001), Trustee (2002 - )
Portland Public Library, Trustee (2005 - 2006)

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