I am running for Mayor because the Mayor is the person on City Council best positioned to ensure government reforms happen. And unlike other candidates, I have no interest in being a part of government, only fixing it. I believe Portlanders have the sole right to determine the structure of their government so that it not only reflects their values and goals, but is also efficient, practical, and provides the best results with the least amount of money. My time as Mayor will be focused on making sure you have the government you want and deserve.
Making sure Portlanders have complete control over determining our government’s structure is actually quite easy for someone who is authentic in their desire to make it happen. It only takes a Mayor who will ensure the next Charter Commission has all the time, support, and funding necessary to engage Portlanders in discussions on the changes they wish to see.
Out of all the candidates running for Mayor, I am the only one with direct experience with the Charter Commission. I know first hand of its potential to bring to Portland voters the tectonic changes necessary to ensure all Portlanders have equal representation and opportunities for prosperity. I also have direct experience with the efforts of government to try and sabotage the 2011 Charter Commission and interfere with its efforts to identify and ensure government reforms are voted on by Portlanders. No other candidate will protect the independence of the next Charter Commission and provide it with any and all support needed for their efforts more than I will.
I am also running because Portland’s government is fiscally irresponsible and does not reflect the progressive values and goals of Portlanders as previously implied.
I intend to reconstruct the concept of being progressive, specifically with a fiscally progressive approach to spending. I believe the foundational element of being progressive is the empowerment of individuals. To do this, we need programs and tools that help Portlanders thrive and live their best life possible. Programs and tools cost money and every dollar wasted diminishes the ability of government to provide the best tools and broad-based programs for those it serves.
My plan to change this is to keep all Bureaus and Offices under the Mayor’s office, but have the entire City Council provide oversight as a team. Oversight would be conducted in Council Chambers, open to the public with opportunities for public testimony, and recorded for public access viewing similar to what is done at City Council meetings. Each Bureau and Office would be dissected for effectiveness, appropriateness of programs, gaps in needed support and services, staffing requirements, and actual funding requirements. My hope is to find millions of dollars of funding that can be applied elsewhere to strengthen our direct services that focus on empowerment and/or to reduce our long term debt to free up that money for direct services to Portlanders.
A fiscally progressive approach to spending is especially important now because of the impacts of COVID-19. The City’s long term debt is about $3.3 billion with annual payments totaling about $500 million to service the debt — https://katu.com/news/on-your-side/city-of-portland-33-billion-in-debt-ranks-near-bottom-of-national-fiscal-health-index. This means we are probably paying over $400 million in interest to banks. While I would love to make some serious headway on paying down our long term debt so we could use the money going toward interest as well as the actual debt toward programs and services, the new water filtration plant will increase our long term debt by about $850 million without federal financial help. This, coupled with the direct financial impacts of COVID-19 — a substantial reduction in business tax revenue, lower tax revenue from likely property devaluation, and the requirement to guarantee PERS participants a 6% annual increase regardless of the devaluation of the investment fund if reduced by significantly lower stock valuations — makes that effectively impossible. At the very least, I hope to reduce the long term debt to well below $4 billion and find a way to significantly reduce the interest payment component via a municipal bank or other mechanism.
All of these financial issues make it absolutely crucial that we redefine how government works. For example, there are many places in the City desperately in need of new parks. Currently, the cost of creating a new park can cost millions of dollars. However, if we define what components of a park that can be installed without an official planning process and provide the community with direction on what they can do and how, the costs can be lowered to as little as tens of thousands of dollars depending on the size of the park, the amount of donations of materials and equipment, and the number of volunteers participating in the installation of those key elements.
One of my program models is to provide a tuition-free two year online college degree to Portland youth ages 18-21 in exchange for community service. Once vetted and launched, the program can inject thousands of youth volunteers into our already sizable volunteer base. You can read about this program model — The Portland Youth Corps — via this link: http://www.southofholgate.com/?page_id=151. This program would allow us to dramatically reduce costs by increasing the number of volunteers needed for public programs as well as for schools and other public efforts while providing our young people with a real-world education to supplement their academic education in addition to cutting in half the cost of a four year degree.
Mark for Portland 2020 ••••••••••• firstname.lastname@example.org ••••••••••• 503-761-0222