Portland mayor race pits LC alum against local political veteran

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

By Leslie Muir /// Opinions Editor

It’s time for Portland to elect a new mayor, and the race has already heated up. Current mayor Charlie Hales has said that he will not seek re-election, meaning the field is wide open. With no incumbent candidate, local political figures are stepping up to fight for Portland’s top spot. Although the race is not closed and many candidates are still officially running, two have come to the forefront. Current city commissioner Jules Bailey and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler are going head to head running two very different campaigns, both trying to distinguish himself as the clear frontrunner through decisive statements and widespread fundraising.

Jules Bailey is a Portland native who graduated from Lewis & Clark with a degree in Environmental Studies and International Affairs in 2001. He followed that up with a stint at Princeton before returning to the Portland area as a small business owner. In 2008 he was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives, and has since served as Multnomah County Commissioner beginning in June of 2014. Bailey is running on the idea that he knows the city and knows the residents’ problems, specifically that he “knows first hand how difficult it is to stretch a budget,” according to his official website.  He has run a grassroots campaign, accepting many small donations from donors and even opting to gather the requisite number of signatures of support to enter the mayoral race instead of paying the alternative entrance fee. For the growing number of college students in Portland who support presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, this grassroots fundraising technique with an emphasis on confronting income inequality may feel familiar.

For Zane Dundon ’18, these are steps are leading in the right direction.

“I would like a mayor who stands up to corporate interests in Portland and fight for a $15/hour wage,” Dundon said. “I’d like a mayor who will collaborate with the activist community and fight for racial justice, labor rights, and housing rights.”

However, some of his ideas to solve them seem out of touch according to local NW Portland resident and LC community member, River Lassotovitch. For countering the incredible amount of traffic Portland has been facing in recent years, Bailey suggests implementing toll lanes like the ones attempting to ease congestion in Los Angeles, and that only alleviate commuting time for the wealthy.

Lassotovitch said, “I honestly don’t think this will help alleviate anything.” Traffic has become an increasingly big issue, and can be felt by those in the LC community who commute to campus everyday. For Sam Gensler ‘18, the commute to and from LC’s campus is the most important aspect of his choosing  mayoral candidate.

“Improving the road system [is most important],” Gensler said. “I want to use my car on roads that won’t destroy my tires.”

Another unusual proposal is a push for a larger mounted police force, which could be especially useful if it came with a similar push for more stagecoach robberies and saloon brawls.

Ted Wheeler also makes a point to label himself as a progressive. Wheeler has been in statewide politics since 2010 when he took over as State Treasurer. He won re-election in 2012 and has held the position ever since. Now he aims to take on the state’s largest city.

Wheeler takes environmental practices seriously. He helped found Walk for the Wildwood, an organization to help maintain Forest Park Trails, as well as having supported the Heron Point Wetlands Rehabilitation Project during its infancy. Wheeler publicly denounced the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality saying they were, “asleep at the wheel” after the reports of toxic pollutants surrounding Portland glass factories emerged startlingly late.

Recently, Wheeler has stated skepticism for Mayor Hales’ new plan to officially allow camping on sidewalks, saying that this is not the way to combat homelessness in Portland. For Caitlin Chappell ’18, the new mayor will need to address this issue head-on.

“I’d like a mayor that would fight for housing rights,” Chappell said. “The homeless problem in  Portland is big, and he should definitely make sure people have a safe place to sleep at night.” Wheeler is pushing for more homeless shelters and beds to be put in place across the city, although his plans for doing so are absent from his official website and online profile.

Wheeler promotes the idea that “Portland is an aging community.” If the common adage from Portlandia holds true that “this is where young people go to retire,” then Wheeler might know what he is talking about. Wheeler’s stated priorities are to keep aging people engaged civically and economically, while Bailey emphasizes the need to help families live affordably in all sections of the city. This is a message the young people of Portland, of whom many have not aged into financial stability yet, can get behind.

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