Candidate’s forum has East Portland thrust

Here’s another opportunity to meet some of the
candidates hoping for your vote on May 20 …

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Two Oregon state legislature hopefuls, two Multnomah County Commissioner candidates, and four contenders for City of Portland offices all arrived bright and early at Cherrywood Village to meet and greet people from Portland’s business community on April 16.

Ken Turner, Government Affairs chair for the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, serves as moderator and quizmaster at this candidate’s forum.

The event, presented by the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, was hosted by the organization’s Government Affairs Chair, Ken Turner.

With about fifty business people and community members present – along with TV news cameramen from two local stations – the program got underway. “We invited many candidates to attend this forum,” Turner stated as the forum began, “The East Portland Chamber of Commerce is not endorsing any candidates for any office.”

The candidates lined up in front of the meeting room; Turner asked each of the candidates to introduce themselves.

The candidates appear here in the same order as they spoke …

Oregon Senate District 23 candidate Sean Cruz

The first to speak was Sean Cruz, running for Oregon Senate District 23. Cruz said he was the chief of staff for Oregon State Senator Avel Gordly for many years. “I’m a Parkrose resident, real estate broker of 8 years; I work in the district.”

Working in health care issues was his forte, Cruz said. “And about my hair – here’s the story: I said I wouldn’t cut my hair until my sons came back from military service in Iraq.” One son died in military service, Cruz reported, the other came back, but “no one has seen him since he returned. Even five years into the war, there is no [State] senate committee for veteran’s affairs. We need to work on dealing with the war – ending and helping the veterans.”

Portland City Council Position #2 candidate, Jim Middaugh

“I’m running to get the job done at City Hall,” stated Jim Middaugh, who’s running for Erik Sten’s soon-to-be-vacated seat, Portland City Council Position #2.

While we don’t recall he mentioned that he’s been Sten’s Chief-of-Staff, he did point to his work with the Columbia Gorge Commission, promoting business in Troutdale, working through Sten’s office to get more funding for David Douglas Schools and improving transportation on SE Foster Blvd. He said he’s the only “publicly-financed” candidate in his race.

“We need to recognize outer East Portland and East County. We need to help reduce the cost of permitting,” Milesnick proclaimed.

Multnomah County Commissioner District 3 candidate, Rob Milesnick

Rob Milesnick, said he’s the job as Multnomah County Commissioner for District 3 because, “It’s time for the county to change. There’s too much infighting in the county, downtown [Portland], and in Salem. I’m reaching out to start a dialogue.”

Milesnick said he’s a graduate of Syracuse University; and is employed in health care, working for ODS. His community work includes “being on the City’s Citizen’s Review Board”.

Portland City Council Position #2 candidate, Nick Fish

“We’re living in a time of unprecedented challenge,” began Nick Fish, candidate for Portland City Council Position #2. “We have a historic election ongoing: Four of five seats that govern the City of Portland are up for election.”

Fish said he’s spent 20 years in business as a lawyer, representing workers’ issues. Additionally, he said he championed reforming public housing and has been doing a weekly television talk show that shows viewers how government works.”

“I want to be a champion for small businesses. Small business is the backbone of the community, providing 80% of [local] jobs. At the same time, we all also benefit from having a strong downtown area. The Portland City Council doesn’t make jobs; but we can help create an environment that promotes more jobs being created. We need to focus on our core mission: Public safety, infrastructure and parks.”

Portland City Council Position #1 candidate Chris Smith

Up next was Chris Smith; he’s running to fill Sam Adams’ seat on the Portland City Council in Position #1. Smith said he brings 20 years of experience of being a high-tech and marketing executive to the post.

“And, I’ve been an activist in Portland on issues of livability and transportation; I’ve been working on ‘Safe, Sound and Green Streets” project. I want open and transparent government. Our [Portland City] Commissioners are legislators; but they also are administrators. Each of them runs several bureaus. I have the management experience to do that well.”

In addition to paying attention to basic services, Smith suggests that the City uses the theme of “sustainability” to build a competitive advantage. “We need to promote an industry sector in sustainability, and have our economy thrive by pursuing that strategy.”

Multnomah County Commissioner District 3 candidate Mike Delman

Mike Delman, a candidate for Multnomah County Commissioner District 3, told the group he worked as the Chief-of-Staff for an unnamed county commissioner, and has held other county posts. He now works with Portland Habilitation Center.

“I’m running because of my experience working at the county. Multnomah County has suffered from the ‘Mean Girls’ debacle. But, [sitting County Chair] Ted Wheeler has turned it around. In this office, we need someone who understands the needs of the county,” Delman stated.

As a cost-cutting example, Delman suggested outsourcing of the county’s vehicle fleet, saying the privatization could save taxpayers as much as 30% per year.

Oregon State Representative, District 49 candidate, Nick Kahl

Although he’s running for a seat that represents Fairview, Wood Village, and Gresham, Nick Kahl pitched his candidacy to be District 49’s Oregon State Representative.

“I grew up on 113th Avenue near East. Burnside Street. Now, I still see that the people who live and work east of 82nd have a commonality of interests with those who are in East County.”

Kahl’s interests include improved roads and highways and increased capital budgets for school building. “We need to see the green industry come here. I hope to see the abandoned East County high tech facilities being put to use by green industry companies.”

City of Portland Mayoral candidate, Sam Adams

Sam Adams, the Portland Commissioner running for the job as Portland’s Mayor, said he’d keep his remarks brief.

“There is a clear different between me and Sho Dozono. I’m in favor of local control of schools. I do not support Portland Public Schools taking over Parkrose and David Douglas school districts. My opponent does.”

Adams added he was in favor of using some tax increment financing to help David Douglas Schools funding capital building projects.

Questions and answers

Family Wage Jobs

Q “What are ‘family wage’ jobs?”

Cruz: “I don’t know.”

Milesnick: “We must deal with rising medical costs. Most of the bankruptcies are caused by expenses arising from medical issues.”

Fish: “It takes about $85,000 in family income to afford a home. A family wage job is two wage earners making $18 to $22/hr with benefits. Most working families can not afford to live here.”

Smith: “We need to look at the benefit component [of wages]. How to keep living in Portland affordable is the real question. Also, we need to look in to questions of affordable housing.”

Delman: “I agree with Fish. The county’s core mission is health care and public safety. Want to support [sitting Multnomah County Commissioner] Jeff Cogan to provide more family jobs. And, we need to strengthen public safety.”

Adams: “21% of Portlanders work at a poverty wage.”

With that, moderator Turner stated, “Family wage jobs are 2 times minimum wage.”

Increased employment

Q What will you do to provide more jobs?

Cruz: “Portland Community College’s Southeast Center is the economic key for this area. They provide job training. We import welders from other states; there are not enough here to fill the needs of industry. Also there are not enough nurses. The college is asking for a bond package; I hope you will support their effort.”

Middaugh: “Finish cleaning up the Portland Harbor. Investment there is frozen until the ‘cloud’ of being defined as a [pollution] superfund site is lifted. Then, we’ll be able to get living wages back. Also, I’d like to see the process of getting permits in the City streamlined; it costs too much to start, or grow, a business here.”

Milesnick: “We need more green jobs. The things we want to do will take a while.” Community design is the one of the key solutions, he added. “We need business, shopping and schools closer to home. It is hard to create jobs at the county level.”

Fish: “I have a secret plan: Live by the Small Business Bill of Rights that has already been accepted by the City. I plan have it at my side at all times. We need strong schools and school-to-work partnerships. We also need regulatory reform. Too many small businesses can’t expand; tax reform may help that situation.”

Smith: “We need to be strategic; we need to ‘go green’. Focus on alignment between government and private sector. The cities and regions that are successful have their goals and objectives in alignment.”

Delman: “The County can participate to help increase jobs. Building trades have many open slots. We need to listen to those in local business districts regarding what is needed to help them do well. Instead of just saying we’re more business friendly, we need to welcome businesses back to the county and city.”

Kahl: “At the state level, there needs to be equity between large and small businesses. Guaranteed loans could help set up green businesses here. If we want to attract more business here, we need to fix bad roads and support our schools.”

Adams: “Businesses won’t move here, or choose to grow if citizens are concerned about public safety. Gang violence is up; the Mayor’s budget does not include uniformed [gang detail] officers. We have investigators and counselors working on the situation, but the program has no teeth. I want to get officers, five of them, on the streets working on the gang issues.”

Transferring county bridges to METRO

Q Do you support the transfer of Multnomah County bridges to Metro? If not, how would you distribute the costs?

Cruz: “This isn’t an issue dealt with in the State legislature.”

Middaugh: “Don’t know if a transfer to Metro is the right answer; but we do need a way to have other counties help pay for bridges their citizens use.”

Milesnick: “I do hope the state will take an interest. Macadam is a State Highway. 65 percent of the people that cross the Sellwood Bridge are from Clackamas County.”

Fish: “We need some kind of bridge authority. One city and county can’t shoulder the total cost. Bridge authorities have been used successfully in other municipalities. Metro may be the right place. But, we need to act quickly; the Sellwood Bridge is rated as the ‘least safe’ in the state.”

Smith: “I do support regional bridge authority; maybe not Metro. We need a regional solution to this problem.”

Delman: “Metro should be the new government entity given the responsibility for the bridges. They are supposed to be the new regional transportation government. However, Multnomah County should retain ownership.”

Kahl: “Counties should not own, and be forced to maintain, bridges any longer. The State legislator has a role to play. I’m perfectly fine with handing it off to Metro or creating a regional authority. The problem is that no political institution wants to step up and take the liabilities.”

Adams: “The answer is a regional authority. How to convince [other governmental entities] to take on ‘our problem’ is the question. We have to be willing to care about their problems as well. For example, Clackamas County needs support as they develop the Sunrise Corridor.”

Less trash; more recycling

Q There is a growing amount of trash on the streets; it seems that businesses aren’t doing their part in recycling. If elected, what will you do?

Adams: As part of negotiating agreements with the next trash hauling contract, I want to see more public garbage cans and public recycling cans. It is more in keeping with our progressive values.”

Kahl: “This is more of a city/county concern. I did craft a cell phone recycling program for the county.”

Delman: “The County can beef up its legislative agenda and fine companies that do not meet recycling goals.”

Smith: “I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

Fish: “We should support existing laws and recycling efforts. I’m in favor of increasing littering fines.”

Milesnick: “I propose an Environmental Justice Committee. They would represent cities, and go after polluters.”

Middaugh: “Require a deposit on cigarette butts. Actually, we need greater incentives to do a better job with waste. Solar powered compacting garbage cans might be the answer; local businesses can build them.”

Cruz: “From the perspective that someone who has been involved in the war, almost no one is making sacrifice. In WW2, people saved everything and recycled it. They sold war bonds to pay for the war. People are too lazy to separate glass from plastic; commingled recycling costs more. We need a greater sense of personal responsibility and shared sacrifice.”

Wrapping up the session, Turner said, “Are YOU registered to vote? This year, your voice will be heard at the ballot box – but only if you participate.”

Learn more about the East Portland Chamber of Commerce by CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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