Phil Busse: “Me for mayor”

Phil Busse wants the city of Portland to collectively say, “Me for mayor.” The slogan for the mayoral candidate’s campaign may have started as a joke around the offices of the Portland Mercury, where Busse is managing editor, but it has come to embody something bigger.

“It’s the collective ‘me,'” Busse said. “All of us are supposed to be ‘me.’ We want to draw people in so they have ownership of the campaign and city hall.”

Busse has big plans for the city and has already started sharing drafts of his campaign platform with the public. Lofty goals include boosting the economy by drawing on, what he calls, “the creative class.”

This group consists of everyone from painters, writers and filmmakers to “creative 9-to-5ers,” such as architects and advertising executives.

“Portland has a remarkable creative community,” he said, and he wants to see it better developed on levels paralleling other cities like San Francisco, New York and Seattle.

One basic idea Busse proposes would capitalize on the creative community to generate “artist incubators,” city property converted into workable spaces where artists have the chance to grow and work in an environment full of other artists.

“One of the hardest things is being an artist alone,” Busse said. With a community of artists, it is easier to “foster growth.”

These artist incubators are not an entirely original idea, Busse noted. They are similar to “job incubators” he helped develop at University of Oregon and to communities akin to San Francisco’s “writers’ grotto.” Of course, by “artists,” Busse means a vast array of members of the creative community, including painters, writers and musicians.

These incubators will also help people to develop their own businesses during their first year out of college, the year most people fail, he noted.

This ties into his belief that the city should help provide jobs for new graduates.

“The city needs to develop jobs so that when students graduate,” Busse said, “they can have good jobs, not crappy jobs.”

Busse wants to address other city needs, too, especially transportation. One idea he has is to bring back the Yellow Bike Program, a mid-’90s project in which the city spent about $10,000 to purchase 10-speed bikes, painted them bright yellow, and left them around town for anyone to use.

The program eventually disintegrated after the bikes or pieces of the bikes were stolen.

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But Busse doesn’t consider this a failure. “It means people that didn’t have bikes, now do,” he said.

Non-profit organizations like Shift and Bike Works are already working to get people bikes. “Let’s get bikes into the hands of more people,” he added.

He also wants to see the city’s fleet of cars go hybrid and further the use of bio-diesel buses. “Portland should be a leader in alternative forms of transportation,” he said. His biggest concern is reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

He stated that he bikes to work every other day. (The other days, he added, are when he takes his dog with him to work; she is too big to take on a bike.)

Busse also believes “the South Waterfront developments are going in the wrong direction.”

He wants to see more affordable and low-income housing developed in downtown Portland.

“Last I checked,” he said, “there isn’t a housing crunch for the wealthy in this town.”

He’s confident that if the right person is elected mayor and the right city council is in place, Portland’s housing situation could get better.

Busse thinks the money slated for a potential baseball stadium could be better spent. He is not against the idea of a baseball stadium; if successful, a professional baseball team can help foster civic pride and economic growth. But he disagrees with pooling so much money into one project as a “putting all your eggs in one basket” situation.

Busse is taking a progressive outlook on the entire campaign process, as well. “100 is our magic number,” he said, for many reasons.

Firstly, they are capping campaign donations at $100, which is “logically tied to federal standards.” He said that mayoral candidate “Tom Potter pulled his $25 campaign cap out of his ass.”

Busse also plans to give away $100 of the mayor’s salary every day, including weekends, while in office. He thinks the mayor’s salary level is “ridiculous.”

His platform embraces a list of 100 specific programs and projects he plans to implement or begin during his first 100 days of office. This list was released yesterday (see sidebar), exactly 100 days from the May 19 primary.

“Our campaign,” Busse said, “has been indicative of how we’d run the city, which is open and accessible; which is pounding the pavement for new ideas. We’re doing everything possible to make politics fun and to integrate it into people’s lives.”

One way his campaign is accomplishing this is by hosting free movie nights. In fact, the Me for Mayor campaign is hosting the film “Breaking Away” at 7:30 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 12, at Stumptown Coffee, 128 S.W. 3rd Ave.

“If the mayor wants to start bringing people back into city hall,” he said, “he needs to start reaching out.”

For more information about Phil Busse’s mayoral campaign, visit