Investing in Portland’s future

Portland mayoral candidate and former police chief Tom Potter is impressed with students at Portland State.

“They appear to be much more engaged with the community,” he said.

The mayoral primary election is not until May, but Potter and his campaign have already made “some initial efforts to do some work with the colleges, including PSU.” He is making an effort to bring the college age bracket, those least likely to vote in city elections, into his campaign and into city politics.

“It’s going to be their future,” Potter said, “and if they want to start shaping it, they should start now.”

As mayor, Potter plans to build a stronger relationship between the city and PSU, what he considers “a tremendous resource.”

He noted that the university is in the process of growing geographically and physically – something in which the city of Portland has been a key player. Potter’s plan is to see it continue and to build on relationships with the accelerated business program and the Urban Center.


Potter already has connections to PSU, having worked with professors on community policing issues during his stint as police chief.

He promises more opportunity for the mayor and the city to collaborate with PSU, “especially in job creation.” Potter wants to focus on all cluster groups, such as high tech and apparel, on every level, from large companies to small businesses.

Potter also wants to work on improving transportation within Portland.

“As we build inside the city,” he said, “we have to provide better transportation services.”

His foremost goal is the creation of incentives for carpooling, car sharing and the use of public transportation, something he noted does not require any money.

He also wants to make downtown Portland friendlier for alternative transportation modes like bicycles and skateboards.

Additionally, Potter hopes to build citizen involvement to create more affordable and low-income housing. He suggests finding current structures and reconfiguring them into condos or apartments without destroying the character of Portland’s neighborhoods.

He’s also a big believer in allowing people to own their own home in areas where they have been renting. He mentioned a plan that will allow renters priority in purchasing homes within their current neighborhood.

“I encourage home ownership,” Potter said.

Essentially, however, his campaign boils down to four points: economic development and living wage jobs, safe, strong neighborhoods, good governments, and children of all ages.

Potter wants to work especially hard to eliminate the achievement gap, which he feels is attributable to children’s starting school before ready and, as a result, not faring well or not finishing.

He wants to work with the counties and social services to build on this idea, but also stresses the importance of teachers and parents.

“Parental involvement is very important,” he said, adding, “The best crime prevention there is, is for a child to finish school.”

Potter also wants to connect that idea to the higher education system. In addition to ensuring children are ready to go to the next level when they graduate, he wants to find ways to help cope with rising tuition costs so that anyone eager for a college education can afford it.

The city and schools can do this, he said, “by investing in our future.”

As a side note, Potter also defended his $25 campaign donation cap. “I didn’t get it where Phil Busse says I got it,” he said (see Vanguard, Feb. 10).

“Money plays a big part in our elections and how we govern,” he said. By capping donations at $25, a number Potter felt most people could afford, he has provided the opportunity “to invest in the future of Portland” to as many as possible.

To view campaign blogs or to find out more about Potter’s campaign, visit