It is early May and time is growing short for the candidates competing in the Portland City Commissioner and Mayoral races. The competition is in full swing and volunteers are desperately trying to cover every corner of the city in an effort to contact each undecided voter. Recent polls have determined that undecided voters are the winners in this race since they outnumber voters committed to any one candidate. So the lawn signs are out, including the ones posted on some particularly partisan vacant lots, and the candidates are busy working overtime. House parties (minus the beer), public appearances, debates on various media outlets; the allure of public office must be powerful indeed. As the campaign progresses there have been a collection of ironic articles from the usual suspects.
Generally the debates between the candidates have been civilized. Relations were more strained during the recent ?Candidates Gone Wild? event. ?Candidates Gone Wild? usually features an alternative reality where candidates are show-business performers singing show tunes, dancing, and performing comedy acts. Some might say that this provides a more accurate picture but not all candidates are especially comfortable in this arena. It can be all in fun or an evening long dunk tank experience. This year candidates traded not so veiled jabs and there was a reputedly heated disagreement between Eileen Brady and Jefferson Smith backstage. Brady was unhappy with a comment made during one of the skits.
In a recent quickly pulled commercial Charlie Hales had a peculiar lapse in memory. In the TV ad he claimed that he had helped keep Portland schools open during a budget crisis. The tricky part concerns the timing since the crisis in question occurred after Hales left office. This sounds like a crisis in Charlie?s editing staff. Whoops.
Eileen Brady?s fondness for buzzwords is becoming more pronounced. Unfortunately for us there is not much explanation about the logistics of ?innovation? or specifics on the identity of certain ?new ideas? or their probable usefulness. It is difficult to wade through the jargon and figure out what she really knows or what she will do if elected.
Mary Nolan made a desperate futile attempt to help Amanda Fritz better understand the Water bureau filtration plant issue. Fritz has appointed herself ?savior? of the budget. She has claimed to singlehandedly thwart the outrageously wanton waste of millions of ratepayer?s dollars on frivolous Water Bureau projects. The project in question was an EPA mandated filtration plant. Recently the Water Bureau was granted a variance approved by the EPA that eliminated the need for any spending on a filtration plant. This was the result of years of litigation and extensive collection of data and had nothing to do with any of Fritz?s budget posturing.
Nolan is sometimes characterized as the anti-Fritz candidate. She has demonstrated a cool debate style and an ability to zero in on her opponent?s inconsistencies. It almost make?s you feel sorry for Amanda Fritz. Not too sorry, however, since Fritz has been less than helpful concerning issues which are important to the City?s unionized workforce. She has proved to be willing to throw us under the proverbial bus in the name of budget concerns. Nolan has always been supportive of labor. She is smart enough to come up with more equitable budget solutions and will not sacrifice front line employees while sparing non-represented employees and management.
Jefferson Smith and his many volunteers have been steadily working at the grass roots level, knocking on doors, making phone calls and attending numerous house parties. Their goal is to reach the undecided majority. Of all the mayoral candidates, Jefferson Smith offers the greatest hope for some change in this dismal economy. While other candidates make empty impossible promises, Smith?s realistic fiscal approach and willingness to invest in our local economy (economic gardening) is worth trying.
During all this election drama, local 189 has it?s own election. An election for the position of Secretary/Treasurer will be held in May. The previous occupant of that office found that she could not fulfill her duties and submitted her resignation. There are two candidates running?hence the election. Kim Gates is a Police Administrative Support Specialist with the Police bureau. Ella Lewis is an Accounting Technician with the Bureau of Planning. This is an important election for a position that is a vital part in the functioning of our union. Please participate.