Portland City Hall. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

The Portland Charter Commission has elected two people to lead its yearlong review of the city government during its first meeting, emphasizing the importance that criminal justice and racial equity will have in the review.

Michael Kebede, a policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, and Shay Stewart-Bouley, a writer and executive director of Community Change Inc., an anti-racist nonprofit based in Boston, were elected a chair and vice chair of the group, respectively, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Kebede and Stewart-Bouley won their positions over Peter Eglinton, a former school board chair and deputy director of Efficiency Maine, the newspaper reported. He was elected as secretary.

The election comes amid controversy about comments made by a charter commissioner, Nasreen Sheikh-Yousef, who called City Manager Jon Jennings a “white supremacist.” A group of residents called for her election to be recalled, but the city’s top lawyer said that a recall is not possible.

At the meeting, a public hearing was set for July 28, during which residents will be able to submit comments about what they’d like to see changed in the city government.

Matt Berg

Matt is a senior at UMass Amherst, studying journalism and history. Before joining the Bangor Daily News, he was the managing editor of his student newspaper and interned at the Boston Globe.