Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Portland Mayoral Race

I have been trying to the best of my ability to figure out whom to vote for in the Portland Mayoral contest.  I am completely stumped.  So you should tell me.

Lets get one thing out of the way first: there is no sense in talking about substantive issues because the three leading candidates, Brady, Hales and Smith are all so similar they spend all their time splitting hairs to try and sound different.  So, I am left with choosing on impressions, subtle differences and the different experiences they bring.  So don't mistake this as reasoned, cogent analysis - this is seat-of-the-pant stuff here folks.

So let me do my best to describe my conundrum:

Brady: Early on she seemed the easy choice, but the longer we go the less I like her.  Her campaign themes are all about bringing people together, finding solutions, blah, blah, blah.  She tries to sell herself as the pro-business choice, but I don't really see that.  She has said some weird stuff like Portland getting in on the property development business.  Huh?  And I think my main problem is I can't quite figure her out: why does she want this job?  What really does she bring to it?  I am okay with her claiming to have co-founded New Seasons, but I do think she relies on that too much in her campaign.  I just get the sense of a rich person trying to decide what next to do in life - 'hey why not mayor?'  Anyway, whatever it is, I am not alone, her polls have stalled.

Hales: For a while he seemed the obvious choice.  He has real experience in Portland city government and a reasonable approach to governing it appeared.  Then all the little niggling things: the leaving his council job early to cash in on his government work, the living in Washington and not paying Oregon taxes but remaining registered to vote in Oregon, and the biggest whopper: claiming to have played a pivotal role in the last public schools crisis when, in fact he had left government the year before.  All of this is just a little too much for me.

Smith: Ah Jeff Smith.  He of the cluttered desk but ordered mind?  Um, usually I find the correlation is positive.  He is the quintessential big idea guy - all about the idea and light on the execution.  Just exactly what has he done in his two terms in Salem?  This all smacks of finding the next political rung to climb.  That said, he has sounded the most fiscally prudent of all of them so far and I applaud that.  But the Mayor job is all about coalition building and he has not shown himself capable of that in Salem.

So, what on earth do I do?


OhNoNotAgain said...

Your instincts are correct and you know what to do: Jefferson Smith is the only candidate who has the ethical background, and despite your curious claim that he hasn't 'worked well with others', his incredible work on water and 'cool schools' shows just how collaborative he is. And he has a terrific record of accomplishment. You seem to know a lot about the candidates, and you have no "high negatives" about Smith. Do it. Vote for Jefferson. But maybe what would help is to meet him. Again, do it. Call the campaign, stop by, find out where he'll be next. I'll check back and let us know how you do.

KOB said...

I share the same doubts and questions why Eileen Brady decided to enter this race. Overly ambitious politically, which is not necessarily "wrong," but without the principled underpinnings that are essential to govern the "real people," meaning those who are not her personal "friends."

Hales' authenticity has steadily eroded; again, I agree with you.

I met Jefferson Smith not through friends, but after reading comments to and about him directed by people whom I know and trust, cognoscenti in Oregon politics. When I met him personally in 2010 he wss a good match for their high opinion. And as I have engaged in the campaign and met his people and seen his work ethic, it supports the decision to place high expectations on this very gifted natural-born politician and leader. He is deep and focused and has the right "stuff" to deal with the crises and weakness which inevitably abound, and is the right pick. Good luck!

carla said...

Thanks for the opportunity to help sway you!

One of the more impressive accomplishments that he shares is his strong advocacy for Measures 66/67, both in the Leg and then publically when it went to the voters. Notably, neither Hales nor Brady did that, and Brady was part of the team that lobbied to make it temporary and cap the high-end of the tax. And I'd argue the danger to career was inverse; Hales and Brady had nothing to lose by backing it, while Smith put his seat at risk by backing a tax increase during a recession and the peak moments of teabaggerism.

He has a host of smaller but meaningful accomplishments--being the point person on the "Cool Schools" initiative and getting the budget online, which singlehandedly raised our budget transparency grade two letters, being two--but I think his signature achievement is the Eastern Oregon water bill.

Jefferson was handed this dog because people thought it was impossible: broker a deal between eastern ag producers and the environmental/water watch/American Indian communities. Umatilla Basin is dry, and ag wanted to draw from the Columbia during dry seasons to keep things watered. Against the better judgement of some in the Leg, Jefferson partnered with GOP Bob Jenson, and with the help of expert advice created a plan to draw water during the WET season, store it in an aquifer, and draw it out when needed.

I think this is an election to be wary of what Brady calls "big bets;" most truly troublesome issues can't be solved with one big fix. Sometimes you have to work at the edges, doing one thing and then maybe another and a third after that. Climate change is a good example; school retrofits and better transpo balance in East Portland don't change the world, but they DO work, and don't cost a lot.

I'm just a proxy who thinks Jefferson is the right guy at the right time, but I'd urge you to try and get out to listen to and talk with Jefferson. I find that the more I learn, the more committed I become.

Torrid said...

Dang, that comment is NOT by any Carla; it's a vestige of an older time. I wrote it, torridjoe. Apologies for any confusion. I am a volunteer for Jefferson, who cannot vote in Portland but believes who Portland elects is very important to the rest of the metro area.

Patrick Emerson said...

Impressive response both here and in private from Jefferson supporters. Thanks for all the feedback. In my own personal opinion poll Jefferson has been steadily trending up, Brady down and Hales down after the memory lapses.

I like the skeptical attitude toward the CRC and URD.

So I am warming to him, but still undecided. I do appreciate the intelligent feedback I have received from everyone, it is such a pleasure to have such serious and thoughtful readers.