Feb 4th District 2 Forum, an unusual format

On Feb 4, the first Portland City Council District 2 Candidates Forum (at Leaven Community Center, NE 20thby Alberta) displayed an unusually casual approach. The event was organized by candidate Chris Olson, who selected two moderators from ProgressPortland.org, and two from XRAY.FM, community-centered radio. Each pair sat down at a central round table with four candidates at a time to ask two prepared questions specific to each individual. This worked well with 11 candidates present and felt intimate with the capacity crowd seated around them.

Three new City Councilors will represent North and parts of NE Portland, south to I84 and east as far as NE 82nd in Cully (see map). Voting is November 5 and candidates formally file with City Elections June 5 – August 27. 

District 2 map
District 2 map

As of March 24, there were 20 candidates on the Small Donor Elections website. (SDE: the largest donation from an individual or committee can be $350. Matching funds are available, currently 9 to 1 for the first $20 donated by each Portlander.)

XRAY.FM also brought a film crew (the full video is now posted on YouTube here). The lively audience lined up at the end to ask questions.

This reporter was impressed by the progressive and collegial nature of all the candidates; they sounded very willing to collaborate on solutions to Portland’s challenges, including:

  • climate change/energy use; 
  • diversity, inclusion, equity and intersectionality; 
  • collaboration and need to have a voting bloc of 7 out of 12 councilors; 
  • balancing needs according to our vision and values; 
  • auditing where the money goes; 
  • public safety and police reform; 
  • Measure 110 didn’t backfill criminal penalty with mental health care; 
  • stricter rent control; 
  • building capacity to handle addiction and housing; 
  • human metrics; 
  • more mixed-use zoning to allow home businesses; 
  • support of community development organizations; 
  • subsidize building at affordable levels and where we want; 
  • siloing of city departments leads to lack of communication and common goals;
  • housing is the first step to handle the drug crisis; 
  • move unused commercial buildings to residential to house people more quickly; 
  • more eyes on the street and less militarized police; 
  • the interest on bank funds should come back to the city; 
  • support Portland Street Response – too many police calls are mental health calls; 
  • arts and events in the neighborhood centers bring people together, so each neighborhood needs a district manager from Venture/Prosper Portland; 
  • help for small businesses; 
  • marginalized folks have trouble working the systems to get resources; 
  • fund City/County employees to do their jobs well; 
  • change the laws to have a common platform; 
  • expand multi-modal transportation, like the Frog Ferry, free TriMet, E-bike subsidy; 
  • listen to city partners, talk to experts, make a plan and get a home for everyone.
District 2 City Council Candidates Forum Feb. 4, 2024
Candidates from left to right: Mariah Hudson of Alameda, Debbie Kitchin of Sullivan’s Gulch, John Middleton of Concordia, Laura Streib of Cathedral Park, Reuben Berlin of Beaumont-Wilshire, Brooklyn Sherman of St Johns, James Armstrong of Woodlawn, David Burnell of Woodlawn, Jennifer Park of Arbor Lodge, Marc Koller of Hayden Island, and Christopher Olson of Sullivan’s Gulch 

By Ruth Lane