Mayoral candidates pitch plans, in outer East Portland

Read exclusive full text of Sam Adams’ and Sho Dozono’s first eastside face-off here. Missed it? Find where you can meet the candidates on April 10, in Gateway …

Mayoral candidates Sho Dozono and Sam Adams are about to make their first outer East Portland appearance here, before the East Portland Chamber of Commerce as Dan LaGrande introduces the program.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While it may have annoyed the other dozen (yes, there are 14 in total) mayoral candidates that they weren’t all invited to talk before the East Portland Chamber of Commerce (EPCC), the two leading candidates – Sam Adams and Sho Dozono – squared off at their first joint outer East Portland meeting.

The Chamber’s Governmental Affairs Chair, Ken Turner, urges chamber members to take an active role in this election.

Standing before about 60 members, guests, and press representatives, EPCC’s Governmental Affairs Chair, Ken Turner, set the stage: “With this election, the profile of the entire Portland City Council will change. Be a part of it!”

Instead of complaining about city government, Turner extolled taking an active part: “I challenge you to make sure that you vote. Insist that your family do the same; go to your friends and businesses associates and convince them that this is a very important election. It’s going to be up to every one of you to make sure the change is something that you want.”

Former television newsman, and EPCC Publicity and Marketing Chair, Dan LaGrande of LaGrande Public Relations guides the morning’s program on April 2, held at CherryWood Village.

“There are winners and there are whiners,” LaGrande said. “The winners are here in this room because you care enough about city politics to be here, and be involved in the process.”

Note: We’ve shortened the candidate’s introductions. At the end of this article are links to each candidate’s web site; we urge you to read about the candidates for yourself. Also, rather than characterize comments and responses made by Adams and Dozono, we’re presenting a lightly edited transcript of their remarks.

Mayoral candidate Sam Adams speaks.

Introducing Sam Adams
With the order of speaking selected by a coin toss, LaGrande said, “Leaders of 34 of Portland’s neighborhood business districts have personally endorsed Sam Adams for mayor. One of these leaders said, ‘This kind of unprecedented citywide grassroots support happens only when a candidate has earned it with follow-through and results.'”

Sam Adams’ opening statement
“Good morning. It’s good to be back. I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak with you once again about the future of this city. It is very important.

“As you’ve heard, I’ve worked in city government as the Chief of Staff to the former Mayor [Vera Katz], and now I’m a [Portland] City Commissioner. From those experiences, I know there are certain tasks that only the mayor of the City of Portland can provide. And that is leadership – on the direction of the city, and setting the pace for change.

“I think that leadership from our mayor’s office for the last three years has been kind of like treading water. I’m running to bring new energy and vitality and innovation to the mayor’s office, and get Portland movie again.

“This is my fifth or sixth time meeting with you at the East Portland Chamber of Commerce. One of the slogans of my campaign is ‘Because Portland belongs to all of us’.

“I’ve worked as hard as a City Commissioner, as I did as when I was chief of staff for the Mayor, to understand and work with and champion all parts of Portland.

“You seen me in your business districts, in your neighborhoods, and I’m very grateful to have those personal endorsements from the leaders of business districts.  This is a hard group to get support from. Together we made some important changes over the last three years. We just inaugurated the new office of the APNBA (Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations) in the Olympic Mills building. Working together, we were able to get the Portland City Council fund this organization. We went from a $25,000 grant to a $125,000 program.

“We reduced business license fees for 9,000 businesses – mostly small owner controlled businesses – for the first time in the city’s history.  For the first time we actually lowered taxes on smaller businesses.

“I’ve worked hard to keep and bring new businesses to the city. On 82nd Avenue, I helped bring the Banfield Pet Hospital headquarters here. They were having trouble acquiring an old school building. I help them acquire it. Their new world headquarters is there. They donated [on their property] to the city an off-leash dog park.

Sam Adams

“For the first time in recent history, in the Lents Town Center, we recruited a company that located there, Northwest Assurity. We recruited them from Gresham. It brought in 45 jobs, and created a new cornerstone development, one that was proposed for eight years.”

Adams named several other businesses that said that he helped recruit into the city.

“Why do I do this? I did this because 84% of Portland’s businesses employ 10 or less employees. All businesses are important. Big businesses are important.  But it’s the small businesses that can get crushed and snuffed out more easily.  That’s why I asked the Mayor to create a liaison for small neighborhood businesses, the APNBA. I’ve been working hard to see that key changes are put in place.

“I’m proud to have the support of businesses that used to be very ‘anti-Portland’, including Columbia Sportswear. But this is just the beginning. I look forward to being a Mayor of small businesses as well.

“For the first time we will have a Mayor, if I am elected, that knows the entire city; someone who is working across the entire city. Someone who knows what all the issues are on 82nd Avenue. This is why we work so hard to get to get $11 million for transportation safety and business districts – and why half of that [funding] went to East Portland. It’s because you deserved it.

“You’ll continue to get that kind of attention if I’m elected. Thank you.”

Mayoral candidate Sho Dozono speaks.

Introducing Sho Dozono
“He’s a strong advocate of diversity and equal opportunity.  He is a respected civic and business leader who has devoted his time and energy to being of service to his community,” LaGrande said.

Sho Dozono’s opening statement
“I’ve been part of the ‘whining group’ in the Portland Chamber of Commerce for 20 years. If I wasn’t concerned why people whine, I wouldn’t step up, and I wouldn’t be here this morning.

“I decided, at age 64, I have a lot to give back to the community. That’s why I’m standing here as a candidate for Mayor of the City of Portland. I think leadership is important. I’ve been where you are. You’ve heard about my background; how I grew my business from four to 250 employees. I know a lot about small businesses challenges.

“So why am I so passionate about this city?  I grew up in Portland, on the Eastside. I went to Buckman, Hosford, and graduated from Cleveland High School, class of 1963. I went to Portland State University to get my Masters degree in teaching. I taught at Grant High School from 1971 to 1976, and taught social studies and Japanese language.

“I went into business some 30 years ago. I’ve been there, supporting businesses. A lot of people claim what they’ve done for business. But for years, I was advising the Portland City Council and Mayors, saying what is important. I’ve told them Portland needs to be more business-friendly.

“As new Mayor, I will guarantee you that we will be ‘open for business’, not only nationally but internationally. I’ve been there, multiple times, with every Governor since Governor [Victor] Atiyeh. I’ve traveled abroad looking for businesses not only for Portland but for the entire state of Oregon. I just helped launch new service from Portland to Amsterdam on Saturday. Governor Ted Kulongoski and 65 business and community leaders look for new opportunities for creating more green-collar businesses.

“I’ve been there; I know what can be done and what should be done. We need to change the whole attitude about this. Not just about small business, but also about midsize and large businesses. We need to retain what we have.

“We think about large businesses like Columbia Sportswear, and Nike; we forget that back in 1976, Phil Knight only had five employees. He did a lot better than I did, because I only went from 4 to 250 employees.

“Gert Boyle and Tim Boyle [from Columbia Sportswear] were almost run out of business 20 years ago. They’re another great business story. Small businesses aspire to become big businesses. Large businesses are not our enemy. Small businesses are the backbone of our community; at the same time, we need to be supporting midsize businesses, and recruiting new businesses.

Sho Dozono

“Just this morning, out in Gresham, a new company is coming that makes solar panels. I was involved 20 years ago with Governor Atiyeh and Governor Goldschmidt, recruiting businesses from Japan, because we were dependent on natural resources as the backbone of our state’s economy. It wasn’t going anywhere. [We had a] singular focus on high-tech companies. In 1980 we had 17 Japanese companies here in Oregon; a decade and a half later we have 180 companies here.

“That’s what it takes to rebuild our economy. A green industry, and green-collar jobs is where we need to be focused.

“We have an advantage because we are a community that has sustainable practices. We’re leading in the nation in wind power. We need to support this new industry that is sustainable. That is our future; no longer natural resources.  It is the green-collar businesses.

“As the new Mayor of the City, I would say it is the second-most important political position behind the Governor. Before I even take office, I’ll be calling a business summit to bring together the brightest and best minds forward in civic, political, and business to make sure that we’re ready to be open for business, and knock off the nonsense that Portland is not friendly to business.

“Thank you very much.”

Questions and Answers

Q The real estate market does affect our economy. What do you say to the average person coming to Portland, or who lives in Portland, who wants to own a home today? What would you say about affordability?


“If I would’ve had more time I would’ve touched on three things: Economy, education, and housing.

“I think what we’ve done in the city of Portland is driven the working class and middle class out of the suburbs and beyond. This is unacceptable.

“We focus too much on homelessness and the lowest of the low income. We have not built enough income for the working-class family throughout the city of Portland.

“I’ve been working with the Portland Development Commission and other resources, to make sure that we build for the future, for the working-class families, affordable housing. This has to be one of the key elements of our future growth. We have to be taking care of our own citizens here.

“The working-class and middle-class families are the backbone of our community. I know what it’s like to grow up on the southeast side. My mother still lives on the southeast side, and she’s 93 years old. At age 64, I tell people, that I have another 20 good years left in me to be part of the solution.  I’ll be part of the solution to building affordable homes for the working-class family.”

“So, the question is, ‘How do we do that?’ How do we make houses affordable?’

“The first thing we need to do is to keep the folks who are currently buying their homes, in their homes. The latest statistics show that there are a thousand Portlanders that are close to foreclosure.

“We’re working to put together a plan where those families will have access to the kind of counseling that will have them restructure their debt, and keeping people in the homes they’re already buying is the first thing.

“There are credit counseling folks that are good and certified by the federal government; and there are credit counselors that are not so good, and that prey on people’s vulnerability right now. What we’re doing [in the City Council] in the next couple of weeks is getting the word out on what certified credit counseling services are available in the City of Portland.

“I’ve been one of the leaders on the City Council in terms of seeking to provide more resources for folks to purchase their homes. We have ramped up and increased funding for home ownership programs and home ownership assistance programs. We have a land trust programs where low-income people can buy a house with very little down, and in the future they can sell it at a 10% to 15% profit.  This home is resold to somebody else who also is low income, while allowing more people to get on the equity income ladder.

“Currently we have an $11 million live-and-work project in the Montavilla neighborhood called Milepost Five. It is the largest new investment in Portland. It is focused on the creative class. The building used to be the old Baptist Manor. It has zero City money in it. The units are going from $99, 000 to $275000. By leveraging private sector dollars, they’ve come up with condos that people can work and live in, and sell out of their front door.

“Those kind of innovative approaches are really important to moving forward everybody likes affordable housing everybody wants to have families with kids here.  It’s a question of how you do it.”

Q It seems that the City has money for pet projects, and spends money on things we don’t understand, when our roads and bridges are falling down.  What can you do to change that?


“I want to talk about priorities. That is one of the themes in my campaign; fiscal responsibility and fiscal accountability.

“I’ve done a lot of coffees [meetings], and heard people say ‘When you have money in the bank account, you call that savings’. City Council, for too long, sees additional income, because the economy is doing well and businesses are paying taxes, and they call it a surplus fund or one-time funding. There was $32 million in the last cycle and $35 million in the cycle before; that’s about $65 million, and they spend every dime of it.

“They don’t think about putting money away for a ‘Rainy Day Fund’. As businesspeople or in a household, you don’t spend all of the money you take in. You put some money aside for the future. We know we’re in a recession today, whether the President [Bush] says the ‘R word’ or not, our economy’s in a downturn. If we’d put something aside, we would be weathering the storm much better.

“What are the priorities of City Council? There are individual priorities or projects. Is there a discussion within the city – within the community and in the area – asking the question, ‘How would you like to spend the money?’

“Or do they simply say, ‘Let’s divide [the excess funds] by five, and if you vote for my project I will vote for yours, and we move forward’. I read this morning about the Sauvie Island Bridge; $5.5 million.

“It’s a great idea – if you have all the money in the world – to have a streetcar on every corner, and build bridges for pedestrians, and build parks. But we don’t have the resources to fix roads. That’s why I think there are missed priorities and missed opportunities to provide core services – [instead of] pet projects.”

Sam Adams

“I appreciate the question. The priorities I’ve worked on have included getting more general funding into transportation over the last three years.

“Thanks to a lot of folks in this room, who joined me lobbying City Council, we been able to double the general fund support for transportation. That comes out of that $67 million that the Council received because of the stronger economy.

“It might look like, by a cursory reading of the budget, that the city doesn’t have a Rainy Day Fund; actually it does. It has a $45 million Rainy Day Fund. These are our reserves. That’s why your city government has the highest credit rating that you can get as a municipal corporation; we have an AAA rating.

“In terms of priorities, I’ve tried to get more money to save lives. As Transportation Commissioner, I know there is a reason why some of our roads are so dangerous here in East Portland. There’s been a lack of investment – and a lack of advocacy – from previous Transportation Commissioners to have more general funding go into business districts to improve the safety of those business districts. I think that’s very important.

“I tried to change the mentality of City Council; [a mentality] that they don’t give property tax funding to transportation. They think it should survive, as it always has, on gas tax revenue, parking meter money, and a portion of moving-violation fees. As Transportation Commissioner, I’ve tried to change this mentality to the benefit of East Portland business districts and neighborhoods.

“Together, we reformed transportation SDCs. For too long, a big set SDC exemptions were downtown, and not available to people in East Portland. These are all hard-fought battles to rework the priorities of the city.

“We are all one city; we are all one Portland. And that’s why I’ve fought for new investments in areas that would benefit the entire city, and not just special projects.”

Q As mayor, would you sponsor or support a bond or lending measure to finance police, fire, and transportation departments?


“For the last eight or nine years, I worked with Mayor Katz to get on top of the gang problem – to increase funding for the Portland Police Bureau.

“Right now, we’re looking at using the extra resources that we have to go toward public safety. We need to improve equipment that is out of date so the City can be more responsive to all of you that call 911. Also we need to better equip police cars. And, we need for officers to be able to stop having to write the reports on paper. Most police agencies have moved way beyond that.

“The latest polling shows the Portlanders would not support a bond measure for a new tax for police and fire. They want us to pay for it out of the money that we already collect from you. That’s how I will prioritize is my investments in safety as Mayor. I will not go out for a bond measure for public safety.

“Having said that, [Multnomah] County is potentially looking for a bond measure to open the Wapato jail and to increase drug treatment. If they choose to do that, I will support it.”

“That’s a good question. I’ve had the good fortune of doing a ride-along with a police officer just two nights ago.

“Sam’s right, in terms of updating our computer system within the police force.

“But the sad truth is [the Portland Police Bureau has] 50 positions unfilled today. So it’s not about more money for law enforcement. We cannot recruit enough people to fill the positions we have. I also met with Chief Rosie Sizer last week and learned that, over the next five years, I think we’ll be up to full force.

“At that point, we’ll be putting more money into more law enforcement officers on the street. I support the idea of community policing, and more police on the street. The sad truth is that we have more than adequate funds, we don’t have people to fill positions. We have to work to fill the positions with people of diverse backgrounds who reflect the community that we serve.”

Q What immediate and long-lasting steps can we take to eradicate street crime like drug dealers, prostitution, and other crimes from the streets of East Portland?


“Sho is absolutely right in terms of the struggle the police Bureau has to fill positions that have been authorized. Two weeks ago, in the budget committee that I’m part of, we authorized a sign-up bonus of $5,000; other cities are doing that in the region, and we need to do that.

“Regarding street-level crime: Gang violence is back. The current Mayor cut out uniformed [gang] outreach officers. I’ll bring them back. He removed the gang graffiti detail; I’ll bring them back if I am Mayor. It’s been requested by staff and supported by the Chief – these [special units] are ‘best practice’.

“I’m telling you how we do these things – not just what we need to do.

“There are six uniformed officers working behind a desk in the Portland Police Bureau doing criminal background checks for individuals who have applied to be police officers. We should civilianize these positions, and get those officers out on the street on Gang Detail.

“When I worked for Mayor Vera Katz; I saw what happened when she inherited a gang violence situation. I can tell you, we did not want to let this escalate any further.”

Sho Dozono

“I think the solution is to reflect back on the community where the youth coming from; they are not gainfully engaged in positive activity.

“We should support programs like SUN Schools. The money we invest in prevention is amazingly small. When we talk about pet projects that are useful, that dollar can be invested in prevention.

“[As Mayor, I’ll support] community-based organizations that are culturally competent and know their own community in terms of color and ethnic diversity. I’ll be doubling or tripling money at the front end, so we don’t spend the money on the back end.”

Q What will you do or what do you plan to do to reduce the size of Portland’s government?


“That’s a winning question! I have not been endorsed by Portland’s city employee union.

“I’m not an advocate for growth in government, as a private sector person for all of my life other than five years as a schoolteacher. I don’t advocate that government is the solution.

“I believe in a business and government partnership. That’s how I’ve spent my entire business career; working with the government – including six Mayors and five Governors. I have a background working with people of different backgrounds and different opinions. We work to solve common solutions. It is up to the citizens to make sure that we don’t depend on government for our solutions.”

“Again, I’ll tell you how we can do this – not just that we need to do this.

“City government seems to be embroiled in an ongoing budgeting process. It’s never ending. I recommend we go to a two-year budget cycle. In one year we will do the budgeting. On the off year, we’ll dig in and look for efficiencies in government.

“Talking about public safety, I think efficiencies are out there for the taking. We do not have enough resources for public safety. I agree with the spirit behind the question of seeking a public safety bond measure.

“When you look in the city and the county budgets, and add up all the money for jails, law enforcement, and crime prevention, the City and the County spend about half a billion dollars. But we spend it in our own ‘little boxes’, never really talking to each other. And as result, there are gaps, overlaps, and missed opportunities to reduce the ministry to costs.

“You don’t want us to reduce services. You want us to become more efficient, administratively. I will sit down with [Multnomah County] Chair Ted Wheeler; we’ll put all of our money on the table, and build a system that makes sense for public safety. It makes no system for the city government to pay for new 50 police officers – if the people we catch are released five minutes after the police bring them in.

“If you take the time, and spend the [off-budgeting] year bringing in smart folks, who are experts in their area, you can dig in deep and get efficiencies in every area of government.

“The other thing is that I’ve worked hard on is coming up with performance measures in both the Transportation and Bureau of Environmental Services.

“As professionals and business owners, you know that your business plan should be more than, ‘Let’s make money today’. If that’s your business plan, you probably won’t be in business for long. You have the right to know what we’re going to do with your money, and on what timeline. That’s what you’ll get from me if I’m elected Mayor.”

Q To the question of whether or not more development emphasis should be focused on East Portland instead of downtown, both candidates agreed.


“The amount of money we put into economic development is paltry. That is the future of our economy. We need to be looking for opportunities in all parts of the City of Portland. We need to be inviting businesses from other parts of the country and other parts of the world. We’re in a competitive global marketplace.

“Having Gresham companies move to Portland doesn’t grow our economy. In our region and in our state, we need to be competitive in the global marketplace, that’s my background. I will help grow our economy.”

“As a person who’s been working with many of you in East Portland to help keep the businesses we have here and attract more, I can tell you, City government has ignored East Portland for too long.

“You are used to seeing a parade of candidates that come around during every election cycle and tell you how they’re into being different. They tell you how they’ll make a difference dealing with your issues in your problems. They tell you they’ll actually fight for what other people call ‘pet projects’ for East Portland.

“But with my candidacy I humbly submit that not only did I say that I would be here working with you when I ran for city Council, I worked hard to deliver on it.”

Get involved
Take a few minutes and learn more about these mayoral candidates.

For more information about Sho Dozono, CLICK HERE.

For more information about Sam Adams, CLICK HERE.

Meet the candidates in Gateway on April 10
At 11:30 a.m., Gateway Area Business Association is hosting a Mayoral Candidate’s Forum. The meeting is free; you only pay for your lunch. It’s at JJ North’s Buffet, 10520 NE Halsey St. Reservations NOT needed. For more information, go to

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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