Portland’s May 18 mayoral election is still a few months off but the race has begun and candidates have the green light to begin campaigning. Four contenders met Wednesday evening for an early campaign forum with the Pacific Green Party.
Phil Busse, Tom Potter, James Posey and Robert Ted Hinds presented statements about their campaign and answered questions from the PGP’s Portland chapter. City Commissioner Jim Francesconi, who recently officially filed for the mayoral seat, did not attend.
The four candidates addressed an audience of 40 in the Southeast Uplift Building at 3534 S.E. Main. Tom Potter, coming from a previous engagement, arrived about 30 minutes late but did not hesitate to join in with the other mayoral hopefuls. Here’s what the candidates had to say.
Phil Busse has not been an active member of Portland’s political scene, but for the last four years he has witnessed and written about it as the current managing editor for the Portland Mercury.
Busse has been disappointed by local politics and described watching the scene unfold as an “eye-opening experience.”
His frustration with how city activities have been managed has been expressed in many of his articles and rants in the weekly publication, but Busse felt it was time to do more.
“After four years of bitching about it,” he said, “I decided to run for mayor.”
“Portland needs to have creative problem solving,” Busse commented, “in a manner that is all-inclusive.”
As mayor, he promised to “look for long term solutions” and to “ask the hard questions.”
Busse wants to boost the economy by utilizing the creative class and benefiting from what he calls “intellectual economy.” His plans for this are addressed in an early and incomplete draft of his campaign platform, which he released publicly at the meeting. He feels that Portland’s economy can get a big boost from artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, athletes, and what he calls “creative 9-to-5ers,” like architects and advertising executives.
Busse also wants to address the problems with Portland’s police force, referencing controversial issues such as the May 2003 shooting of Kendra James.
“Our police force does not learn from their mistakes,” he said, adding that the mayor’s office should have a “firmer hand” in the operating protocols of the force.
Concerning Portland General Electric, Busse mentioned he wrote about and endorsed the public utility district (PUD) in the Mercury, but feels “condemning [PGE] at this point is aggressive.”
Busse is also for alternative means of transportation. He wants to see the city using hybrid cars in its fleet and wants to explore alternative fuels.
“Think about how much grease McMenamins produces everyday,” he said. “We could use that.”
He also wants to try reinstating the Yellow Bike Program, one in which the city bought a fleet of 10-speed bicycles painted bright yellow, left around the city for public use.
You can visit Busse’s campaign Web site at www.meformayor.com.
“I’m a common, everyday person,” James Posey said. “I track mud through the house.”
Posey insists the city needs to be far more progressive in the way it addresses things. He is “inundated with the problems this city has,” and says he will solve those problems.
One of his goals is to utilize the industries that are already established in Portland to boost the economy. He spoke of possibly making Portland the medical capital of the world.
As far as dealing with the police force, Posey wants to find officers “who can get the job done” and are able to deal with all races and cultures. He wants an “ideal police force” for the city.
Posey said he is also willing to condemn Portland General Electric if it means protecting rate-payers from increases. “We all need to be protected,” he added.
As far as alternative transportation systems are concerned, Posey doesn’t think they’re being given enough attention by the current city government. He believes that people would be more willing to use alternate means of transportation if there were some sort of reward system for doing so.
“We can make it more than a beautiful city,” Posey said. “We can make it a city of excellence.”
His campaign Web site can be visited at www.poseyformayor.com.
Robert Ted Hinds
“There is no more low-hanging fruit to be had from local government,” Robert Ted Hinds said, asserting that Portland’s debt needs to be restructured in order to be fixed.
“We need to be proactive, rather than reactive.”
Hinds, whose primary background is in big business, wants to jump-start the economy by developing a system of “micro capital loans,” through which laid-off workers would be given a small amount of money to start their own home business, theoretically doing something they had been doing before they were downsized.
The biggest issue, he said, “is about maintaining Portland’s quality of life.” He does not want Portland to end up like San Francisco and Los Angeles, where only the extremely wealthy or the extremely poor live in the metropolitan area, and the middle class can only afford to live in the suburbs and commute.
He also wants to revitalize the police force, especially its training in handling crisis situations, so something like the Kendra James shooting is not repeated.
“Criminals will know that Portland is a city where crime does not pay,” he said.
Unlike some of the other candidates, Hinds feels that Portland is a pedestrian-friendly town, but not a bike-friendly town. He is impressed with the TriMet services, but wants to invest more in bicycle transportation around the city.
His campaign Web site is www.hinds4mayor.com.
Tom Potter, former chief of police, said the problem with Portland is “the government’s not being very accountable.” He wants to reach out and do things that the people he’s representing want done. He wants “a shared vision.”
He’s also trying to avoid being beholden to large sums of money from big business. Therefore, all of his campaign donations are limited to $25.
Potter spent 27 years as a police officer and three as chief of Portland police; in that time, he has come to understand that most cops think of the world as “us and them.”
“But there is no ‘us and them,'” he said. There is only “us.”
He admitted that Portland has racists, sexists and homophobes. That’s fine, he said. “The problem is when those racists, sexists and homophobes carry guns” as police officers.
Potter wants to see changes within the organization of the police force, changes he started while he was chief but have since deteriorated, especially, he said, under Mark Kroeker.
He is confident, however, that “we’ve got the right police chief to make it happen.”
Later, Potter commented that people who pay taxes to Portland General Electric should ask for a refund because, he said, that money doesn’t go to the state.
“As a former cop, that sounds like fraud,” he stated. As mayor, he would do whatever was necessary, including possibly condemning PGE, if it were in the interest of protecting public rights.
And as far as transportation is concerned, Potter is a proud biker, though he admitted to riding more in the summer than in the winter. The biggest issue to deal with, he said, is finding the middle ground between bicyclists and drivers.
“We’re gonna have to learn how to get along, folks,” he said.
His campaign Web site is available at www.tomformayor.org.
Look for upcoming interviews in the Vanguard with these and other Portland mayoral candidates.
Phil Busse-Hopes to boost economy through utilizing “creative class” and benefiting from “intellectual economy.” -Strongly supports alternative transportation such as hybrid vehicles and city-sponsored bikes.-Hopes to remedy Portland Police force problems to address controversial issues such as the Kendra James shooting.
James Posey-A self-declared “everyday person.”-Plans on utilizing Portland’s established industries; has suggested transforming the Rose City into the “medical capital of the world.”-Is looking to create an “ideal police force” full of people who “can get the job done.”
Ted Hinds-Wants to create system of “micro capital loans” to jumpstart the Portland economy and help the unemployed.-Would like to see more funding invested in making Portland more bike-friendly.-Sees a need to revitalize police training for crisis situations.
Tom Potter-Not averse to condemning Portland General Electric for behaviors that “look like fraud.”-Suggests that drivers and bike riders need to “learn how to get along.”-Served as Portland police officer and chief of police for a total of thirty years and hopes to see many changes occur within the bureau.