beaver boundary

place, politics and power in oregon

And Now, Back to the (non)Partisan Racetrack! November 7, 2007

Filed under: 2008 General,City of Portland,Multnomah County,Primary 2008 — taoiseach @ 8:23 pm

With the 2007 special election over, it’s time to put full political energy into the candidate races coming up in May 2008. Yes, that means less out-of-state money coming in to outspend and upend the progressive agenda that Oregon voters gave a mandate in 2006. But it also means that we can renew that mandate and build on all of the successes of the 2007 session and Measure 49, and come back for failed efforts like Paid Family Leave and Healthy Kids.

The brunt of May 2008 will be borne at the local level in Portland and Multnomah County. These governments use a non-partisan primary to narrow the field of candidates to 2 for the November general election. That is, unless a candidate in an election garners over 50% of the vote outright, in which case she wins the post without a November electoral duel.

And it’s already crowded.

There’s three races for the City of Portland offices this May: Commissioner 1 (Public Utilities), Commissioner 4 (Public Safety) and Mayor. Of the three, only Randy Leonard is staying put and running again for Commissioner 4, while Commissioner Sam Adams is running for the mayor post, which incumbent Tom Potter is vacating after one term.

The open Commissioner seat (Number 1) has generated the most formalized interest, with the following individuals already jumping in to the race:

  • Jeff Bissonnette,
  • John Branam
  • Amanda Fritz
  • Charles Lewis
  • Chris Smith

All of these candidates are attempting to qualify for Portland’s public campaign financing system, which requires 1,000 $5 checks/cash from eligible Portland voters.

Strangely, the open seat has generated no bizarre outsider candidates in comparison to the contest for Commissioner 4, for which Randy Leonard is seeking re-election. That race so far has drawn the interest of Rev. Jerry Edward Kill, who prefers to have his name appear as just “Ed” on the ballot.

Also running is Emily S. Ryan, an employee of the Chinese Classical Gardens with experience on Portland’s Charter Review Commission and the Multnomah County Commissions on Poverty and Children/Families.

Emily Ryan is participating in Portland’s unique public campaign financing system; Leonard and Rev. Kill are not.

The Mayoral race is looking pretty crowded, albeit largely with unknowns aside from the high-profile Adams. Here’s the listing as of today:

  • Sam Adams
  • Kyle Burris
  • Craig Grier
  • Lew Humble
  • James B. Lee
  • Beryl McNair
  • Nick Popenuk
  • Jeff Taylor

Of that field, besides the juggernaut Adams campaign, Nick Popenuk is an interesting candidate. He’s a 23-year-old U of O graduate who’s worked for Metro and was recently hired by ECONorthwest, a firm which also employs State House candidate Jules Kopel-Bailey (who’s running in the crowded HD 42 primary). Who knows what kind of campaign he intends to run, but those with a municipal political inclination can find his website here.

The Multnomah County races are a little less interesting ever since Karen Minnis decided against vying for a seat on the Commission. Three seats are opening up, as incumbents Maria Rojo de Steffey, Lisa Naito and Lonnie Roberts have decided against running again or are barred from another term. It’s a little harder to find out who’s filed to run for these seats, so this information is from ORESTAR.

For district 1 (west Multnomah County):

  • Deborah Kafoury, former state representative
  • Wesley Soderback

Rojo de Steffey’s former Chief of Staff, Shelli Romero, had also been mentioned as a possible contender for seat one.
Here’s what the Willamette Week had to say about this race in September:

Soderback, a retired deck officer with the U.S. Merchant Marine, is a relative unknown compared to Kafoury, who has one of Portland politics’ more well-known last names. He previously made an unsuccessful bid for the District 3 state Senate seat in 1988, when he was soundly defeated in the Democratic primary by Bob Shoemaker.

For district 3 (Mid-County south of I-84):

  • Roy Burkett, Intel Manufacturing Technician
  • Mike Delman, public affairs manager with Portland Habilitation Center
  • Rob Milesnick, public relations association with ODS Plans
  • Judy Shiprack, former state representative and director of Local Public Safety Coordinating Council

For district 4 (‘East County’):

  • Diane McKeel, director of West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce
  • Carla Piluso, Gresham Police Chief

According to the Oregonian, former state house candidate Rob Brading may also seek this seat, as might Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby and Troutdale City Councilor Jim Kite.
The Boundary will make an effort to cover these nonpartisan races as they develop, hopefully with assistance of the local-savvy bloggers over at Witigonen (they’re way ahead on their coverage).


Interstate: Geography and Utility October 17, 2007

Filed under: City of Portland,Geography,Multnomah County — taoiseach @ 5:36 pm

With a stated commitment to ‘Place, Politics and Power in Oregon’, one would think that the Boundary would have alredy weighed in on the current debate over renaming Portland’ N Interstate Ave as César E. Chávez Boulevard. What strikes this blog in the back-and-forth is the lack of discussion about the geographical utility of the name Interstate.

If you’re not familiar with Portland, the first lesson in its geographical division would have to be the five quadrants of the city (yes, that’s right), which may contribute to the most basic sense of place felt by city dwellers. Burnside Street, five blocks north of the Willamette Baseline (also known as Stark Street), serves as the dividing line between the north and south halves of the city. And generally, the Willamette River divides the west and east halves of the city. The exception to this rule is North Portland, which sits as a wedge of sorts between Northwest Portland and Northeast Portland. Williams Avenue serves as the boundary between North and Northeast, and it runs along a north/south axis along an imaginary line that extends from the intersection of the Burnside Bridge with the east bank of the Willamette River.

InterstateNorth Portland has a number of north-south thoroughfares, though the length of each one shortens as one moves from east to west due to the narrowing gap between the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Only one major thoroughfare spans the entire length of North Portland, from its origin in the Lloyd District next to the Steel Bridge on up to the Interstate Bridge (which actually contains Interstate 5). Much has already been said about the MAX Light Rail line that runs along the street; a little less has been mentioned about the eventual extension of the line to Vancouver, WA that will create an actual interstate connection.

The name Interstate reflects the simple connection that Interstate Avenue has with Interstate 5. It runs 2 blocks west of the freeway for almost its entire length. Conveniently, drivers attempting to find I-5 in North Portland need only find Interstate to be close to the real thing, and they can even merge on to I-5 North from Interstate at Delta Park. The name Interstate obviously refers to the connection between Washington and Oregon, which is entirely governed by a north-south axis. In terms of transportation for the Portland-Vancouver area, that axis consists of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, Interstate 5, Interstate 205 and the ships that cross the membranous Columbia.

Geographically, Interstate has more utility than just about any other street in North Portland, and much of that would be lost if the name of the street changed to a name that did not refer to the north-south characteristic of the street and its proximity to I-5. This is especially important because of North Portland’s eastern boundary is not very well defined for most Portlanders, and I-5 serves as a stand-in of sorts for N Williams Ave. The Boundary would bargain that a poll of most Portlanders would show that most think I-5 is the eastern boundary of North Portland, not the lesser-known N Williams Ave, even though the streets are 13 blocks apart. Changing the name of N Interstate Ave. to a non-geographic term could have the unintended effect of blurring the already tenuous North Portland boundaries.

Of course, utility is but one element of a sense of place. But in a city where diversity and tolerance promote divergent and distinct senses of place, on what can process ride besides utility? The current situation, which may lead the City to a decision that makes no one happy, can only run on plurality.

UPDATE: Blogtown PDX’s Amy Ruiz breaks the news that Mayor Potter has called for a public vote on the proposal to change the name of Interstate Ave. to César E. Chávez Boulevard.


Tom Potter picks Jeff Merkley October 16, 2007

Filed under: City of Portland,Primary 2008,U.S. Senate — taoiseach @ 10:16 am

Tom Potter, that affable mayor of Portland who cruised to victory through building a populist, progressive campaign, has endorsed Jeff Merkley in the race for Oregon’s United States Senate seat:

Mayor PotterJeff Merkley’s leadership as Speaker of the Oregon House has shown me that he’s the right man to defeat Gordon Smith. Jeff is building the same sort of progressive, grassroots movement that sparked my campaign. Just as I reached out to the citizens of Portland, Jeff Merkley is reaching out to all Oregonians to join his campaign for progressive change in the US Senate.

And in a move that shows that Speaker Merkley’s supporters are willing to go that extra mile, Mayor Potter also made a pitch to current supporters to grow the campaign by word-of-mouth, the old progressive standby of communication. Even more, he’s offered up his time as a reward for growing the grassroots Merkley Campaign. By inviting your friends to join the Jeff Merkley for Senate campaign online, you are automatically entered in to win a dinner with the Speaker and the Mayor.

Even though Tom Potter and Jeff Merkley are very accessible individuals, the chance to have dinner with both at the same time does sound like an intriguing opportunity for the Boundary to discuss its proposition to rename NW Northrup St for the late Senator Richard Neuberger (it would still keep the alphabetical arrangement of the Northwest neighborhood streets, obviously).

You can enter the contest here.
The Eugene Register-Guard‘s David Steves had this to say on this ‘Capitol Notebook’ blog regarding Potter’s pick:

Potter won the way Novick is trying to: portraying himself as the true progressive in a race against a better-funded establishment type Democrat. So the mayor’s support for Novick’s opponent has to sting a little.

While Steves’ attempted analogy between Potter and Novick is off the mark by a little bit, as both are running a progressive, populist campaign that’s closer to Tom Potter than to Jim Francesconi, he’s probably right in the sense that either candidate would be a little upset if Portland’s popular mayor endorsed his opponent.

To Novick’s credit, he has picked up the highly-visible endorsement of City Council firebrand Randy Leonard, who has previously served in the state Legislature.


Amanda Fritz runs for City Council Seat #1 October 4, 2007

Filed under: City of Portland,Primary 2008 — taoiseach @ 8:53 am

Just one hour ago, southwest Portland activist Amanda Fritz announced on her blog that she’s heading down to City Hall and filing to stand election to the seat being vacated by Commissioner Sam Adams:

Yesterday, Sam Adams formally announced he will run for Mayor in 2008. Today, I’m heading down to City Hall after delivering Ali to Wilson, to file papers declaring my intent to run for the Commissioner # 1 seat Sam is vacating. I said all year that he has my full support for whatever seat he chose to seek, and it seemed important to me to wait for his official announcement before making mine.

I’m about to file for City Council because I think I’m the most qualified, experienced person to represent the people and passions I care about. Prioritizing the City budget to pay for basic needs before big-ticket extras. Providing services in all 95 neighborhoods. And including hardworking people in meaningful participation that respects their time and makes a difference in final decisions.

This makes some difficult choices for the progressive community:  Chris Smith, or Amanda Fritz?   To the Boundary, they both exude Portland values and good government.  Good thing there’s a while before we have to decide.

Certainly, though, Fritz has the best logo.



Tom Potter Won’t Run Again. September 10, 2007

Filed under: 2008 General,City of Portland,Primary 2008 — taoiseach @ 11:44 am

Mayor PotterSure, it’s a city issue and this site usually covers state politics, but it certainly will affect the 2008 election:

Mercury‘s Blogtown PDX reports that Portland Mayor Tom Potter will not seek a second term.

More details later from just about every news outlet imaginable.