Nearly 200 people hear City Council candidates

Nearly 200 people came to see a dozen candidates for the new N/NE Portland District 2 seat at a March 6 community forum at St. Johns Church. Among the issues debated by the candidtates were homeless policy, North Precinct police funding, and the Zenith/CEI Hub.

District 2 City Council candidate Brooklyn Sherman speaking
District 2 City Council candidate Brooklyn Sherman speaking
Crowd at District 2 Candidate Forum on March 6
Crowd at District 2 Candidate Forum on March 6

The new City Charter Review replaces the former system of electing City Council members at large. Instead Portlanders will elect  by individual districts, with three councilors for each district.

The North Peninsula Review newspaper sponsored the event that drew candidates John Armstrong, Reuben Berlin, Mariah Hudson, Debbie Kitchin, Marc Koller, John Middleton, Chris Olson, Jennifer Park, Elana Pirtle-Guiney, Brooklyn Sherman, Laura Streib and Jonathan Tasini.

The first question on whether to restore funding for personnel for the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct drew a range of sharp reactions from candidates. John Middleton said, “absolutely not” because of 250 years of policing being used to oppress black people. 

Candidate Mariah Hudson answered, “I have a 7th grader that could buy a couple of days-worth of fentanyl pills with his lunch money.” She supported prioritizing police anti-drug enforcement and saving costs by reducing police overtime.

The Zenith Energy and CEI Hub issues sparked the most intense language, with some candidates lambasting federal and state officials, as well as Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioners Carmen Rubio and Dan Ryan for approving current permits allowing Zenith to continue operating.

When asked about the rise in homelessness, virtually all candidates called for expanding Portland Street Response funding to handle crises where police might not be needed. 

Candidate James Armstrong supported the city’s Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites (TASS) such as the planned 150-unit encampment facility for RVs and tents near N. Columbia Boulevard. “The TASS sites aren’t the permanent answer, but they work for now,” he said. A few other candidates criticized “homeless sweeps” that infringe on homeless people’s freedom.