Eileen Brady is perhaps best known for founding New Seasons Market with her husband Brian Rohter, a chain of stores that has drawn national attention for stocking its shelves with products from local and sustainable sources. But Brady is hoping to leave an even bigger mark on Portland by getting elected mayor. Aiming to bring her “results-driven approach” to city hall, Brady wants to make Portland a place that is both sustainable and nurturing toward businesses.
While Brady serves or has served on the board of multiple nonprofit and government entities and her name was thrown around as potential candidate for U.S. Senate in 2008, she came from more humble origins. Shortly after graduating from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., she moved to Portland as a young mother and started working at Nature’s Fresh Northwest, a precursor to New Seasons, for $5 an hour, eventually rising to human resources director.
“Portland’s a good city,” says Brady. “It could be a great city. In order to be a great city we’ve got to be able to build that economic piece of the puzzle and provide the civic leadership to get there. That’s what I’m most excited about: How do you move Portland from a good city to a great city?”
Jake Thomas: You’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars so far for your campaign. Do you worry that there’s a perception out there that there’s too much private money in politics?
Eileen Brady: Yeah. There’s too much influence. I’ll tell you one thing, you spend a lot of time raising money. My husband was the chair of the Voter Owned Elections campaign, and we came really close to winning. I was very disappointed that we didn’t get over the hump. We think that if we had two more weeks, voters would have kept public financing of elections. I am a huge supporter of campaign finance reform. But right now, we’re playing with the rules we have. If I could wave my magic wand and make this different, I would. I think one of the huge shifts in our politics, locally and nationally, when it comes, will be true campaign finance reform. Continue reading