East Portland voters help Amanda Fritz win City Council seat

Although she’ll represent all of Portland – find out why so many East Portland folks threw their support behind Portland’s newest City Commissioner …

Moments before the election results were posted, Amanda Fritz watches the coverage – with a couple hundred close friends and supporters – to see how her second attempt at gaining a seat on the Portland City Council would resolve.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Portland City Commissioner-elect Amanda Fritz became an “instant success” this week – after 17 years in the making – as she won Seat #1 on the Council this year by a wide margin over her opponent, Charles Lewis.

A 17-year journey
Just before the first results were posted, Fritz stepped in front of about 200 friends and supporters – including Mayor Tom Potter, and Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish – and talked briefly about her latest campaign.

“This journey started for me 13 months ago,” Fritz began.

“Actually, I started this journey 17 years ago when a neighbor left a flyer in my mailbox saying trees were about to be chopped down and I needed to come to the neighborhood Association meeting.

“At the time, I had children – ages five, three, and one – I like to describe it as being ‘knee deep in babies’.  I went to that neighborhood Association meeting; I’ve been going to them ever since.”

Fritz concluded saying, “If you ever wonder about being a neighborhood activist – whether or not you can make a real difference in your neighborhood and city – the answer is yes. Yes, you really do.”

Outer East Portland neighborhood leaders – and Fritz supporters – Arlene Kimura, Alesia Reese, and Linda Robinson, say they’re cheered by the election of Amanda Fritz.

Outer East Portland volunteers recognized
One of the many supporters Fritz went on to recognize was Linda Robinson, current Chair of the Citywide Parks Team. When asked if she would help in the campaign, Robertson outlined four different ways that she could help, and then suggested a few more, Fritz commented.

We asked Robinson why she so actively supported a candidate who lives in deep Southwest Portland – when she, herself, hails from the outer East Portland neighborhood of Hazelwood.

“Where she lives,” Robinson responded, “There are many infrastructure deficiencies, like we have in East Portland. Her neighborhood was also annexed within the last 20 years.”

But what really made Fritz stand out as a potential leader, she said, were her group interaction skills. “I’ve watched how she carefully thinks things through and how she communicates with people. But most of all, she really understands citizen advocacy and has actively participated in government. She both ‘gets it’ and ‘does it’.”

Popular in East Portland precincts
Fritz opined that she won the election because she’s worked with neighborhood and business groups all over East Portland for ten years.

“My support and interest is issue-based,” Fritz told us after the election. “The problems and challenges in outer East Portland are the same ones in deep Southwest Portland. The City made promises to many neighborhoods that have never been fulfilled.”

During her two campaigns for office, Fritz said she found that both neighbors and businesspeople all across Portland expressed similar concerns. “I found that ‘most every group considers themselves unheard and uncared for.”

Portland City Counselor-elect, Amanda Fritz, thanks her supporters after elected to Position #1 by a landslide margin. Her son, Luke, sits in the background.

When we asked how she’ll use her office to remedy this situation, Fritz responded, “When people come to the City – that will be me – to express their concerns, I’ll let them know I’ve heard them, and will respond with practical solutions.”

Because Fritz was already meeting with city officials and civic groups, she was pressed to move to her next appointment.

We asked if she’d enunciate how she’ll use her soon-to-be invested authority.

“As one of five members, I’ll do my best to help the City Council work together for the common good. Bringing people together is what I’ve done for the last 17 years,” replied Fritz.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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