This year Portland will be voting to elect four out of the city's five City Council members. With Mayor Tom Potter is in his last year of office, voters will be choosing a new mayor. Commissioner Sam Adams is one of the contenders, which means his seat – City Commissioner 1 – also is up for grabs. This month Erik Sten resigned from his seat as City Commissioner 2. And Commissioner Randy Leonard is seeking reelection to his seat, Commissioner 4. Only Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees the Parks and Recreation portfolio, remains firmly ensconced at city hall.
Voters will have their first opportunity to decide the election on May 20. Any candidates who receive a majority of the votes in the primary will be elected. If the vote is split so that no candidate wins a majority, then the top two vote-getters will go on to a runoff election in November — except in the Commissioner 2 race. Because there is no current incumbent, that runoff election would be held on July 15.
With almost 30 candidates running for Portland City Council seats, The Skanner decided the fairest way to cover the races was to offer all candidates the chance to respond to two broadly framed questions:
1. What qualifies you as the best candidate for the job?
2. What would be your key priorities as council member/ mayor?
The Skanner attempted to reach all the candidates. Below are responses from those who responded by our deadline. This week, we cover City Commissioner positions 1 and 2. Next week we will cover the mayor's race and the contest for City Commissioner 4, now held by Randy Leonard.
Portland City Council Position 1
"I am qualified as the best candidate based on my experience as a consumer advocate for ratepayers for 10 years, working six sessions in the Oregon legislature fighting for clean energy solutions, and more than 20 years as a community organizer bringing diverse interests together to get real results.
"I am running to make Portland a city that works better for all of us, focused on better employment, better environment, better education and better accountability. My top priorities: making sure that Portlanders can start locally-owned businesses and showing that the economy and the environment can work together."
Candidate Web site: www.portlandersforjeff.com
"As Tom Kelly, president of Neil Kelly explains: "John Branam is the one person in this race who can get things done." I also believe I have the leadership skills to bring together people from diverse backgrounds, an approach of listening and then leading, and a bold vision for Portland.
"As PPS' Director of Development, I believe strong schools are the core of our neighborhoods and are essential for businesses to locate and stay here. I will also push for equity: affordable housing, job opportunities and government services for all. I want Portland to be the city that serves everyone"
Candidate Web site: www.John4pdx.org
(I'm best qualified because): "Native Portlander. Two terms State Representative (North Portland). Small business owner. Labor union jobs. Forty years work with youth sports and student work experience programs, and Delaunay Mental Health Board. Founder (1983) Carpenters Food Bank which monthly provides 450 families food. 1998 recipient Multnomah County Gladys McCoy Citizen Involvement Award."
(My priorities are): "Job training. Essential for dynamic, growing local economy. Decent paying jobs essential to worker and family quality of life. I will have a staff member with the primary responsibility of working with the business community and state and federal governments on ways to stimulate the Portland economy."
Candidate Web site: blog.friendsformikefahey.com/
"For 22 years, I have worked citywide in Portland to help solve problems in a broad range of issues. I am an OHSU nurse and Public Schools parent who served on the Portland Planning Commission for seven years. I care about people, services, equity, justice, and spending taxpayers' money wisely.
"I will focus on funding basic services first. Public safety, decent affordable housing, clean well-maintained streets with sidewalks, parks, and support for good jobs in every part of the city will be my priorities. Great schools, taking care of seniors, and access to health care are important for all Portlanders."
Candidate Web site: www.AmandaFritzforCityCouncil.com
"I am the only candidate with an extensive track record of getting results for people in North and Northeast Portland. For the past decade, my work founding and directing Ethos Music Center has brought music education to thousands of underserved children and an award winning nonprofit to our community.
"My first priority on council will be putting a stop to subsidizing development that benefits only the wealthy while Portland becomes increasingly unaffordable for working families. I will work to ensure that City Hall is funding the basic needs of Portland citizens and not expensive "pet projects" like the Tram."
Candidate Web site:
"For 15 years I've been fighting to make Portland better with more livable neighborhoods, more sustainable transportation choices and a City government more open and transparent to citizens. The policy skills I've developed, along with 20 years of management experience in our high tech industry qualify me for this job.
"I'm running to make Portland sustainable. Environmentally sustainable, getting out in front of Peak Oil and Global Warming. Economically sustainable with good jobs and affordability strategies to keep it possible to raise a family in the city. And sustaining and growing the tradition of citizen involvement in running our City."
Candidate Web site: www.citizensmith.us/
Portland City Council Position 2
"As a civil rights lawyer and civic leader, I have brought people together to tackle the tough issues of social and economic equity. I have a record of working to close the minority home ownership gap, expand opportunities for small businesses, and challenge discrimination in the workplace.
"Family wage jobs, strong schools, safe neighborhoods, and accountability. I will work to open up City Hall to everyone, bringing new voices to the table. I will engage the public before important decisions are made. And I will bring people together to move Portland forward."
Candidate Web site: www.nickfish2008.com
(My qualifications include,) "A long history of "grass roots" activism and leadership in issues that affect people's lives. "Google" Ed Garren for more info. I stopped a Wal-Mart from coming to Hayden Island. I have three decades of activism in Environmental Justice, Economic Justice and Labor issues.
(My priorities would be,) "The creation of a Rent Stabilization Ordinance, revisiting the city's current "gentrification" model which favors the most affluent while ignoring everyone else, increasing transparency and access to city government, ending racial profiling and other discriminatory city practices, creating affordable private sector housing for working people."
Candidate Web site: www.edforportland.com
"Experience makes me most qualified. I've worked for Portland since 2000, recently as Erik Sten's chief staffer. I helped create a $1,000,000 schools and neighborhoods grant program. I saved $1,000,000 working across departments. I've solved sewer, road, housing and crime problems. I've cut red tape that slowed Willamette River cleanup.
"I will focus on making all schools stronger, housing more affordable, ending chronic homelessness and cleaning up the Willamette River. Every child deserves a great neighborhood school. Hardworking people, seniors and families should be able to afford housing and still have enough money for groceries and other basic necessities."
Candidate Web site: www.jimforportland.com
(I'm the best qualified candidate because,) "I am a sincere and committed leader, who shares the values of the citizens of Portland. A longtime advocate my hometown, my background includes real estate, banking and community organizing. Portland is not just a nice city to me. It is home to a community of people I love and respect.
"I support people working together with the city to attain common goals. I'll work with business and labor leaders to place Portland in a position to grow through the tough times ahead. I'll seek out living wage jobs, fair and equitable housing opportunities and protections of the rights and lives of all Portlanders."
Harold Williams II
"I understand the struggle, I understand just wanting a chance, I understand hunger, I understand the pain, I understand love, I understand you, thus I understand Portland.
"I stand for Access, Accountability, Commu-nication, Education, and promoting the Relationships between city government and the citizens of Portland."
Candidate Web site: www.myspace.com/committeetoelectharoldtwo.