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?