Portland mayor showdown

Today is the day! Ballots for the primary election are due by 8p.m. at any of the drop points located around the city. For yourvoting pleasure, The Vanguard has conducted interviews with threeof the four leading candidates, Phil Busse, Jim Francesconi, andJames Posey (Tom Potter was not available for interview beforepress time). Here are some excerpts from those interviews:

Phil Busse:

Q: Some people think that there isn’t much of a differencebetween the major candidates when it comes to their stance on keyissues. How are you different and what unique changes would youmake if elected?

A: I don’t agree that there isn’t much difference. My campaignhas specified exactly how we would handle issues and problems. Ihear rhetoric from the other candidates, but I do not hear specificplans or projects.

Also, Jim Francesconi’s social stances are directly opposite tomine. He voted against Dignity Village; he voted against an antiwarresolution; he supports expanding the urban growth boundary.

Also, I believe that the leadership styles vary wildly. Ibelieve that there needs to be accountability and to draw ideasfrom many sources. Our campaign has shown this. We put together ourplatform by interviewing hundreds of people, by researching studiesinto the city and by looking at good programs in other cities. TomPotter believes in process as well, but at a certain point thetalking needs to stop and we need to see plans and action. Tomhasn’t done this.

I also have a strong track of leadership. I lead by example andI explain my decisions. I believe that even when people differ withmy opinions, they respect them. I just had a Marine stationed inIraq e-mail me. He said that he hates everything that I stand forand the ideas, as he said, to turn Portland (his hometown) into ahippie haven. But he respects my principles and my assertiveness. Iappreciate and respect that.

Q: How would the local school system benefit if you wereelected? How would PSU benefit?

A: Our platform has put forward a three-prong approach forsupporting public schools. Unfortunately, City Hall has littledirect control over public schools (a fact that I believe is oftenmisrepresented by candidates).

I support, one: helping build partnerships with localnon-profits and organizations to help stop-gap holes in thecurriculum caused by budget shortfalls. For example, Jefferson Highis currently working with Ethos, a music education group, to helpmake up for the loss of music education at their school. Jeffersonhas also partnered with PCC to have student teachers help out. CityHall should help build more worthwhile partnerships like this.

Second: City Hall needs to help support extracurricularactivities at the schools. Last spring when the schools nearly[were] canceled, I was aghast that City Council sat mum. Here wehave a City Council member who can raise a $1 million to advancehis own career (Francesconi) and uses photos of himself with schoolkids playing basketball for his ad campaign, YET he couldn’t pickup the phone to raise money to save spring sports for the publicschools. That concerns me.

The city should make available facilities like the parks and recbureau to help out the public schools. This year, ownership of RossIsland reverts to the city. I believe that the city should developthe site as an environmental education site for public schools.

I have helped to develop a public boathouse project. (My sidejob is as the head coach for the University of Portland crew.) Nextfall that boathouse and public dock will open. It is underneath theHawthorne Bridge. As part of the project, I want to see sail boats,kayaks, etc. available to public schools.

In terms of help for area colleges, I am concerned about a”brain drain.” We need to form an advisory committee representingall area school to develop an agenda for what the city can do. Ofcourse, improving internship possibilities (again, using City Hallas a match-maker/conduit for connections) and job opportunities isthe best, most stable way to help retain students in town.

Q: At $500,000 plus, Francesconi’s campaign assets greatlyoutweigh those of other candidates combined. What do you thinkabout the way Francesconi is running his campaign?

A: I think that it is unfortunate that money plays such a rolein politics. It is unfortunate because it allows candidates to notdeliver their message and issues, but to deliver TV ads. I believethat a campaign

should be a marketplace of ideas. Especially in a city likePortland, where most people are [within] two-degrees of separation,it should be possible to pound the pavement and get out thespecifics of a message. Surrounding himself with kids for a TV addoesn’t tell me anything about Jim’s platform. No one on thecampaign trail dislikes kids. What’s the message that we get fromthis ad? Nothing.

It is also unfortunate because gathering money from bigdevelopers can give the impression that City Hall is for sale andthat decisions will be clouded. Whether true or not, thatimpression has settled into Portland.

My campaign was the first to cap donations. We capped at $100, anumber linked to ballot measure 53. And that’s why I support thepublic financed campaign initiative. Under this plan, qualifyingcandidates would receive $150,000 to run their campaigns. That isthe best investment that the city can put into its own future.

Q: You once said that, as mayor, you would give away $100dollars of your own money every day. If elected, would you hold tothis promise?

A: Of course I’ll hold to my promise. I believe that as a publicservant the money paid to the mayor is too much. I’m not doing thisfor the money. Instead of giving that money back to a slush fund, Iwant it to go

directly to people and families who need it. I also believe thatto draw people back into City Hall, the mayor needs to start byreaching out. I think that this is an important gesture and willmake me better understand the most needy in a city – which shouldbe the highest priority for a mayor.

Jim Francesconi:

Q: What is the biggest problem facing Portland as of rightnow, and as mayor, what steps would you take to fix them?

A: Portland’s citizens need jobs. We’ve lost 45,000 jobsin the region in the past three years. We must reverse thatoutflow. The first steps I will take to solve this problem, if I amprivileged to be mayor, will be to form a council of economicadvisers that will include the governor, the executive director ofthe Port of Portland, the president of Metro and private businessleaders so we can coordinate our job creation efforts. We will looktoward the job creation engines in our own backyard – PSU and OHSU.The new engineering building at PSU will have 72 labs that have thepotential of attracting numerous businesses. But solving theproblem also goes to all aspects of education. We must have qualityK-12 education to attract people to Portland and we must haveworkforce training programs so our young people can be prepared forthese jobs.

Q: How are you different from the other candidates?

A: I came to Portland as a community activist almost 30 yearsago and I’ve been an activist ever since, first from the outside,and now, for the past seven years, on the City Council. During thattime I also ran a small business, representing injured workers, andemploying more than 15 people, paying family wages and providingbenefits.

As a community activist, I helped form the Youth Employment& Empowerment Coalition, which placed more than 700gang-involved youth in jobs with more than 200 employers. SinceI’ve been on City Council, I joined with others in creating the SUNafter school program now providing homework help and recreation formore than 5,000 children in 46 schools. In summary, I have a longhistory of taking leadership and getting things done. And that willbe my plan as mayor of Portland.

Q: What kind of role does money play in politics? What do youthink about the public financed campaign initiative?

A: In campaigning, it is important to provide the voterssufficient information to make an informed decision before theycast their ballots. Portland has 300,000 voters and it is expensiveto reach them. I support campaign finance reform, especiallyproviding instant disclosure of contributions. And I would supportlimits on campaign contributions, but we must have action at thestate level to amend the constitution as the Supreme Court hasconsistently ruled against limitations. And, at the federal level,we need changes in the law so that broadcast stations would berequired to provide reduced rates for political advertising. I amopposed to the public financing of city campaigns at a time when wedon’t have enough police on the streets, and our streets needrepair.

Q: If elected, how would you benefit small businessowners?

A: As a city commissioner, I already have formed the SmallBusiness Advisory Council and created the position of smallbusiness advocate. We need to change the way the city does businessby treating small businesses as our valued customers. We need tosimplify the permitting process.

Small businesses provide the bulk of jobs in Portland and canprovide more with the assistance of the city. We must also examineour business income taxes and reduce them. We’ve taken a first stepwith an increase in the owners compensation deduction, but we needto do more.

James Posey:

Q: According to the Portland Tribune poll, you are in thirdplace just barely below Potter, how confident are you at thispoint? Is there any hope that you will be able to make it to numberone?

A: I’m not sure. I will give it all I have to become number one.The people will decide. The question is: can I get my messageout?

Q: I understand that you own two small businesses, as mayorwhat steps would you take help small businesses inPortland?

A: When businesses research Portland, they will find that manyentrepreneurs and existing firms consider City Hall to beanti-business. I am a business owner; I myself have witnessed thisphenomenon. As mayor, I will make sure that Portland is known forits entrepreneurial spirit and welcoming attitude towardsbusinesses.

Furthermore, we cannot attract new businesses to Portland if thecost of opening your doors here is too high. A major barrier is thecost of doing business. This barrier, coupled with the bureaucraticred tape, produces significant hurdles in transacting business andadds to inherent difficulties in starting a new business.

1. As mayor, I would reduce or eliminate unnecessary paperworkand processes to streamline the amount of process businesses aremandated to perform by the city. By requiring common-sensedocumentation and processes to track and business activity. We canease the bureaucratic burden on many businesses.

2. Every city bureau that interacts with businesses would alsoact as a small business development center – providing them withbasic assistance. Such offices would be evaluated based on theirability to serve our business clients.

3. As mayor, I would convene an active small business council asan integral part of my economic revitalization program and designassessment tools to constantly monitor the health and dispositionof the Portland business community.

4. In contrast to the current proposed city budget, I wouldprovide significant, ongoing funding for recruitment, retention,and reinvestment of businesses.

5. I would further encourage small business by placing amoratorium on business licensing fees for new businesses duringtheir first two years.

Q: Can you elaborate on your plan to make Portland the”medical capital of the world?” How would this improve the qualityof life in Portland, other than the obvious improvement in healthcare?

A: The Posey Plan for Portland would make Portland into aworld-class center for medical treatment. Just as the Mayo Clinicin Minnesota draws patients from all over the world, Portland’shospitals would do the same. The benefits would be twofold. Itwould provide the citizens of Portland with the best medicaltreatment available. It would provide economic development in thehousing industries as medical professionals moved to Portland andin the hotel and restaurant industries as patients traveled toPortland for treatment.

Q: How are you different from the other candidates?

A: I have common sense and real business know-how to get thingsdone. In addition, I have real world experience with everydaypeople. I will absolutely not be beholden to any specialinterest.

Q: What are the first three things you would do asmayor?

A: Develop the city strategic plan.

Organize process to get the economy going.

Develop all out process for citizen involvement.