Amanda Fritz picks outer East Portland for “re-affirmation” ceremony

In what many are calling one of her best public speeches ever, find out what proclamation the returning Portland City Commissioner made, that astounded many supporters …

A Royal Rosarian welcomes Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Nancy Hales to the re-affirmation ceremony for Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz traveled deep into outer East Portland, to CherryWood Village, in the Hazelwood Neighborhood, on January 5 to re-take the Oath of Office.

“This election wasn’t a shoo-in,” admitted Fritz to East Portland News, as the room was prepared for her event.

“A poll at the beginning of October showed that I was running neck and neck with Mary Nolan. So, to win by 46,000 votes, and almost 60%, was a testament to people telling their neighbors that they believed in me, and recommended that others voted for me.”

Newly re-elected Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz spends a moment with a supporter.

Looking more rested than she had in months – and having just returned from celebrating the Oregon Ducks’ victory at the Fiesta Bowl – Fritz said she now feels invigilated.

“During the campaign, I was more than pulling ‘double shifts’, because I did not want to shortchange the taxpayers by not doing the job for which they are paying me. And yet, I really wanted to keep being a City Commissioner.  So, I’ve been steadily working about 80 hours a week for the last year. Now it’s like I can relax and go back to working 50 or 60 hours a week – now, that’s like a breeze!”

During her first four years, Fritz said she learned that “there isn’t any particular way to get things done. Each issue is different. With five people on the City Council, there is a lot of relationship-building, and a lot of figuring out what’s important to each person and their constituents.”

One by one, all members of the new Portland City Council – including Mayor Charlie Hales, newly-elected City Commissioner Steve Novick, and returning Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Nick Fish – made their way into the large dining room, along with about 300 other celebrants.

‘Amanda boosters’ speak up
“I’m really happy about this,” commented Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “She’s a very principled and independent voice on the City Council, which is something I appreciate.”

“I worked with Amanda for several years before she even thought about running for office,” said Hazelwood resident, and “parks booster” Linda Robinson. “I’m glad she got re-elected, and I’m delighted to see her serving another four years.”

Hazelwood Neighborhood Chair Arlene Kimura added, “Amanda and I have known each other from Citywide Land Use long before she ran for office. I really appreciate her support, and her getting the neighborhood perspective on land use development – not just a theory, but knowing what it does for people who live right near those projects.”

Nationally-known Portland singer Storm Large performs the National Anthem.

Singer, songwriter, and actor Storm Large opened the event, singing the National Anthem.

After, Fritz thanked Ms. Large for coaching her through two “Candidates Gone Wild” events during her two campaigns. “Only in Portland could a mother, nurse and then politician become friends with a nationally known rock star! Both Storm and I came to this town; we weren’t born here. But, in Portland, we’ve found it to be our ‘adopted family’.”

Dave Lister offers both witticisms and a heartfelt appeal on behalf of Commissioner Fritz.

As a surprise to some, columnist, quipster and one-time City Council hopeful Dave Lister took the podium. “I’m here to celebrate the fact that Amanda was re-elected. I want to celebrate the fact that the machine party candidate got ‘thumped’.

“Mary Nolan never saw a special interest she didn’t love!” Lister quipped.

“A political machine, armed with tens of thousands dollars – and a political consultant they call “winning Mark Wiener” – were determined to get rid of Amanda Fritz. But a funny thing happened along the way: Portland’s voters saw right through it.

“We appreciate that Amanda looks out for our interests, and put up with a nasty and malicious campaign by her opponent, all the while doing her job. She’s looked out for us, and we need to look out for her. Let’s help her retire her campaign debt.”

Multnomah County Judge Adrienne Nelson administers the oath of office.

Cameron Whitten, who held a 55-day hunger strike in front of City Hall last year, commended on Fritz, saying, “I feel she truly has in mind the general welfare of our city.”

Beginning her remarks, Fritz thanked a long list of supporters, including her campaign staff, office personnel, and volunteers.

She then turned to the side and said, “It’s my honor to introduce my new colleague, Mayor Sam Adams.”  Whoops.

Mayor Charlie Hales stood, smiling broadly and waved to the crowd as Fritz quickly recovered her composure, commenting, “Ten years ago, when he was a City Commissioner, Mayor Hales appointed me to the Portland Planning Commission.”

Commissioner Fritz comments about her campaign, “They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  If that’s the case, now I am titanium!

Fritz says quits to politics
“I’m not ever running for public office, again,” Fritz said, clearly stunning some of the members of her audience.

“I can’t possibly work this hard for another four years. I want the freedom to be able to do what is right, and not worry about who’s going to vote for me, and who’s going to fund my next election. I want to give the people of Portland absolutely the best I can give for the next four years. I just want to work for the next four years to get things done.”

When medical nurses discharge a patient, Fritz analogized, “we don’t thank everyone from the head of the hospital to the janitor – we just clean the bed in the room and get on with helping the next person. That’s the mindset that I brought to City Council, and the one that I want to continue to have.

“The third reason I’m not going to run again is that I cannot afford it.”

She thanked her husband for his moral and fiscal backing throughout the campaign. “As Dave Lister said, it’s difficult when you finance your own campaign. The number one thing on my next-four-years agenda is that we need to get Public Campaign Financing back.

“There are community activists who don’t know a lot of affluent people who aspire to be on the City Council and succeed.  Without [public campaign financing], we are not the democracy that we could be. We led the way in Portland by showing that we can do it. I’m hoping to put public financing back on the ballot in May 2014.”

As she begins her second – and apparently final – term in office, Commissioner Fritz details several issues on her personal agenda.

Fritz vowed to continue her campaign for equity.  “Equity is not Affirmative Action, equity is not diversity. Equity is about justice. It’s qualitative, not quantitative.”

She also wanted to help promote better access to mental health care and crisis care in Portland, she added.

Finally, Fritz said that she’s going to urge the Commissioners to reconsider multifamily housing developments with no on-site parking.  “It shouldn’t be that unless you’re able to ride a bicycle, you can live in a particular location. Or that you cannot own a car and live in a particular building. That is something we will be working on this year, and hopefully fixing the zoning code.”

The event concludes with a sing-a-long of the National Anthem.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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