By Emma Grillo /// Features Editor
When Jules Bailey got off the elevator on the 4th floor of Miller, he did not garner much attention from the faculty and staff milling around between classes. Bailey could almost be mistaken for a young professor on his way to meet with a student, but his demeanor gave him away. Bailey had the air about him of someone returning home for the first time in a couple years. And in a way, he was.
“I did spend a lot of time in the dorms, and a lot of time in some buildings that actually don’t exist anymore,” Bailey said with a laugh after taking his seat across from me.
For those who don’t know, Bailey is currently in the midst of a mayoral campaign, the results of which will be decided by a May 17th election. Bailey is running against 11 other individuals to be the mayor of Portland. What sets Bailey apart though, is that he is an LC alumni.
“I think the rigor of Lewis & Clark really helped me go forward to think about not just what I wanted to do in the world but what my place was in the world,” said Bailey.
After growing up in Southeast Portland, Bailey attended LC from 1997-2001, where he double majored in International Affairs and Environmental Studies. He also was a member of the Pamplin Society, involved with the Environmental Studies and International Affairs symposiums, and was an RA in SOA and Copeland.
“I really appreciate the Lewis & Clark community and the start that it gave me … Even my time as an RA helped me become a better leader today,” said Bailey.
After graduating from LC, Bailey worked abroad in China and also on the campaign end of Portland politics. A few years later, he enrolled in Princeton to study at the Woodrow Wilson School. He graduated with a dual masters in Public Policy and Urban and Regional Planning with a certificate in Environmental Policy.
“I think I was one of the better prepared of my classmates just because of the time I spent here at Lewis & Clark,” said Bailey when thinking back to his time at Princeton.
After graduating from Princeton, Bailey moved back to Portland and decided he was done with politics. He started working as an economist and enjoying life back in the Pacific Northwest. Yet unbeknownst to him, Bailey was about to be pulled back into the Portland political sphere.
Bailey was working as an economist at ECONorthwest when a seat for state representative in the neighborhood he grew up in opened up. Bailey recalled sitting around with some friends, suggesting to them that they should run. Instead, they turned to him and suggested that he go ahead.
Bailey ran and won, and spent three terms as a Representative from Oregon House of Representatives District 42. After that, he ran for Multnomah County Commissioner, the position he currently holds.
“I think it distinguishes me in this race the ability to have crafted tough legislation, to have done so with a coalition,” said Bailey.
The platform Bailey is running on has a large emphasis on combating housing unaffordability and homelessness. Bailey has a two-tiered approach to unaffordability. In the short-term, he would help people who are struggling now by advocating for more money to be put into rent assistance programs. In the long-term, Bailey believes that Portland needs more affordable and market rate housing. Bailey emphasized that his long-term solution would be looking towards house ownership as well.
“Gentrification and displacement in large can be mitigated by people that actually own their own place,” said Bailey.
He has formulated a Community Preservation Program which would not only work to help people stay in their communities, but to bring people who have been displaced from their communities back into affordable housing units.
Bailey is also concerned with the homeless epidemic that we have in Portland, and has announced that if elected, by 2019 he will cut homelessness in half.
“We know how to solve homelessness,” said Bailey. “We just haven’t had the political will to do enough of it [sic] for long enough to make a difference.”
Bailey is advocating for more emergency temporary shelters that are connected to services to help homeless in crisis situation. But again, Bailey believes that it all circles back to affordability.
“Shelter doesn’t solve homelessness, it’s just a place for people to be,” said Bailey. “But having housing that is available at a 0-30% median family income does solve homelessness.”
After Bailey and I spoke, he was en route to speak with one of Cyrus Partovi’s classes. Bailey counts Partovi as a mentor and a friend and cites him as one of the many professors that made his time at LC so special.
As Bailey was getting up to leave, a wave of nostalgia washed over him when he looked around at the students and professors draped about the 4th floor study lounges.
“I would just say to folks at Lewis & Clark,” said Bailey. “To students, take advantage of every moment here, because once you’re out you look back and realize how great it really was.”