Tag Archives: Portland City Council

Candidate interview: Mark White

by Jake Thomas, Staff Writer

Mark White isn’t quite sure how many city boards, committees and commissions he’s served on over the  years (he estimates that it’s a couple dozen), but is hoping to add one more to his resume: City Council.

For the past seven years, White has been a full-time volunteer, working on a number of community projects, as well as serving on city boards set up to get input from the public on issues that span housing, urban renewal and many others. Most notably, White serves as the co-chair of the Charter Commission, which recommends changes to what is essentially the city’s constitution.

White, 52, moved to Portland 20 years ago from California and eventually made East Portland home. He has served as president of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association for the last three and a half years. He is challenging Steve Novick, a well-connected and popular candidate, for the seat being vacated by Commissioner Randy Leonard.

Jake Thomas: You’ve served on a lot of city boards and commissions. What lessons have you learned from serving on them that you would bring to City Hall?

Mark White: Well for one, I bring an understanding of how City Hall works and what the real deal is behind how decisions are made. I’m not deluded to think that what happens in a committee is something that City Hall is going to take seriously. I’ve had numerous times when the city folks hear what they don’t want to hear, and their usual refrain is, you’re just an advisory committee. I have a true respect for folks who serve on committees and commissions and boards because I’ve done so many of them, and the folks who sit on them are incredibly, incredibly, incredibly passionate about what they do. Continue reading

The second act

The great thing about elections is that the process is as important as the final vote. It’s getting the issues out there, putting incumbents in the hotseat of accountability and pushing challengers to bring something new to the table.

We asked five questions to  all the City Council candidates for seats nos. 2 and 3. All of their answers are available in the current edition of the paper, but we’ll be posting them here throughout the week. Here is the first question asked of candidates in the race for City Commissioner No. 2, currently held by Nick Fish, and being challenged by Jason Barbour and Walt Nichols.

1. Are you dedicated to ensuring that the 30 percent set aside in Urban Renewal Areas for affordable housing remains a goal for Portland for years to come?

Continue reading

Answers, please…

OK, we admit it’s a lot of text, but we couldn’t resist asking the candidates for City Council a few questions before commitments were made.

Here is the first of several questions we asked of the candidates for Commissioner No. 3, currently held by Dan Saltzman. Saltzman, along with candidates Jesse Cornett, Michael Courtney, Ed Garren, Martha Perez and Mary Volm responded with their answers.  Jason Renaud responded that his campaign is not longer active and Spencer Burton and Rudy Soto did not submit answers.)

What we wanted to know off the bat is what most people are wanting answers for as well: If elected, what would your agenda be in the first year to restore the public’s trust in the Portland Police Bureau and the oversight process? Continue reading

Man of the hour — Nick Fish

In the cavernous meeting hall of the Governor Hotel, as 200 people dined at the REACH Community Development Corporation’s annual donor luncheon, Nick Fish was seated off in a corner at the table with members of the newly created Portland Housing Bureau. But when the lights dimmed, Fish was front and center for the show. In fact, at just a few feet away, no one was closer to the giant screen that projected the stark realities of Portland’s housing and homeless crisis.

The grim barrage reflected on his face: 1 in 2 Oregonians live on incomes 200 percent below the federal poverty line for a family of four – $42,400

1 in 4 Oregonians spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent.

64 percent of Portland residents living in poverty work full time.

41 percent of Portlanders living in poverty were single mothers

20,000 new affordable housing units are needed in Portland over the next 7 years.

Nick Fish was the man Portland elected to help change all this, or at least help to correct the economic inequality that, over the course of the past decade, has priced much of Portland’s housing beyond a commoner’s reach, and made it the hub of a state that recently led the nation, per capita, for homelessness, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This was the job he wanted — the job he fought for — several times since 2002, when he first ran for City Council. After two unsuccessful runs, he succeeded in the special election of 2008, filling the position left vacant in June of that year by Erik Sten’s resignation. As Portland’s first commissioner to have combined control over housing and parks, Fish oversees two bureaus that impact nearly every resident of the city, particularly its most vulnerable populations as they interface with business, neighborhood and development concerns.

But just as he got his ticket to the ball, the carriage turned to a pumpkin. Not only did the economy nosedive into the biggest recession in recent history, evaporating local resources and nationwide housing investments, but City Hall soon erupted in a salacious scandal involving Mayor Sam Adams and a teenage intern.

Meanwhile, quietly across the city, people were losing their jobs and their homes, foreclosures hit a staggering pace, and homelessness jumped 37 percent across the state over the previous year.

“Who would have thought, a year and a half ago, after City Council got through dividing up a surplus, that not only would we be in the worst economic downturn of our lifetime, but that the engine room — the precipitating effect of this recession — was a collapse in the housing market. So not only am I in charge of housing, but housing is essentially the place with the three-alarm fire, and I’m in charge of leading a city/county collaborative effort to try and address this unfolding humanitarian crisis.” Continue reading