Woodstock folks bend the Mayor’s ear at ’10 with Tom’

Discover what Mayor Tom Potter heard when he listened to Woodstock residents during his inner SE Portland Saturday session

Talking with Mayor Tom Potter are Woodstock “observers” Ruthann Bedenkop of the Woodstock Neighborhood Association, and Jane Glanville, President of the Woodstock Community Business Association.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Once a month, you can find Mayor Tom Potter somewhere in Portland, listening to all who want to share their concerns with him.

Potter didn’t have to travel far on February 24 ‚Äì he this “Ten Minutes with Tom” session was not far from his home, at Pappaccino’s Coffee Shop on S.E. Woodstock Blvd.

“This was pretty exciting,” said Ruthann Bedenkop, president of the local business association. “The conversations seemed very open. It made me feel like our government was accessible.”

Mayor’s observations
We caught up with Mayor Potter as he was concluding his session with citizens, and asked him what he learned.

“We talked about issues ranging from the war in Iraq to fluoridation, to urban growth boundaries, to public safety, mental health issues; and the federal homeland exercise ‘TOP OFF’ with the federal government, how we could respond to a major emergency,” Potter summarized.

“I just found out that one of the adult shops in the area is closed and they’re putting in a bakery. That is a good thing.”

Mayor Potter listens to concerns about poor street condition during his Woodstock visits.

Hears of potholed roads
“A woman told me about her street ‚Äì it really needs repair. In our discussion, I told her that Portland has 2,400 miles of paved streets; 600 miles of those need maintenance. Yet, our largest funding source for paving streets is the state gas tax. It hasn’t been raised in years. Vehicles are more gas efficient, and fewer people are driving cars. While driving less is better for our air quality, it is harder on the City’s pocket book.”

The mayor said he’ll pass on the concern to Commissioner Sam Adams, who oversees PDOT.

Speed bumps on his street?
Recalling the group of neighbors trying to get speed bumps placed on their ‚Äì and the mayor’s ‚Äì street, we asked Potter what he thought of the idea.

“People do speed. I know some of the neighbors have talked to Transportation. But, the Commissioner of Transportation, Sam Adams, said they may not be able to put them on SE 41st Avenue, because it is an alternate route for emergency vehicles.”

Not all topics brought up to him concern local issues, Mayor Potter says.

National issues discussed
Not all of the topics people bring up to him, he said, are local.

“Several people talked about the Iraq war. They say it detracts from things we should be doing here. For example HUD provides a lot of money to local communities for local housing. Their budget was cut over 1.5 billion. We took a hit of $6 Million into affordable housing. We had to make that up. If it hadn’t gone for war, we could have used it for housing.”

Regarding Woodstock
Having interviewed the Mayor following several of his East Portland sessions, we asked how people act to him, when they can speak freely.

“Almost to a person, those who come talk with me are kind. They usually have issues on their minds they want to talk about. They understand that government can’t do everything. We do as much as we can.

“People from other areas treat me as well as they do here. I love Woodstock. I love living here. It is great neighborhood with nice people. I’m 15 minutes from my office. From the comments I heard, people do like living in Inner Southeast Portland.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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