As the May 18 ballot deadline draws nearer, many Portlanders arebeing forced to think more seriously about whom they will vote forin the mayoral election.
Candidates are now working around the clock to sway the opinionsof undecided voters, but with the record high number of registeredcandidates and the tumultuous state of local politics, this couldturn out to be a daunting task.
This election, which comes at the end of the incumbent mayor,Vera Katz’s 12-year reign, boasts 23 candidates running for mayor,a record high in Oregon history. It is also the first time thatreports on the candidates are available to the public on theInternet.
Phil Busse – attorney, writer for the Portland Mercury and headcoach of the University of Portland crew team – has decided to runfor mayor after years of witnessing what he thinks is a definitelack of connection between city hall and local constituents.
Busse believes that he has more concrete solutions to the city’sproblems than his rivals. In an interview with the Vanguard viae-mail, Busse illustrated his point: “My campaign has specifiedexactly how we would handle issues and problems. I hear rhetoricfrom the other candidates, but I do not hear specific plans orprojects.”
Busse, who has promised to give $100 of his own money to thecommunity every day that he is in office, is a dedicated supporterof same-sex marriages and recommends subpoena testimony andcoroners’ reports for police shootings. He is also a supporter ofthe “creative class” of artists, architects, writers and musicians,whom he says bring “low stress investments” to the city with”long-term benefits.”
Also a staunch supporter of gay and lesbian rights is ex-policechief Tom Potter. As Portland’s mayor, Potter wants to create jobsthrough supporting “vibrant” and “profitable” businesses. He alsoputs emphasis on the importance of community involvement in localdecisionmaking.
At $800,000 plus, Jim Francesconi’s campaign budgetsignificantly dwarfs that of the other candidates. Elected as citycommissioner in 1996, he is the only candidate with experience asan elected official.
Busse, who capped his campaign contribution limit at $100, saysof Francesconi’s fundraising tactics, “it is unfortunate becausegathering money from big developers can give the impression thatcity hall is for sale and that decisions will be clouded.”
On April 29, the day before ballots were mailed out, locals whotuned into the KGW mayoral debate were finally able to familiarizethemselves with the four leading candidates.
However, some of the candidates felt they weren’t given a chanceto go into sufficient depth with certain key issues. Poseyexpressed similar feelings to the Oregonian after the debate.
“One of the problems with having so many candidates is that thetime allotted for each one is spread thin,” Busse said. “In many ofthe debates and forums, we cover a lot of issues, but we cover themon a superficial level.”