A New Voice At City Hall

By Nick Fish of Portland, Oregon. Nick is a candidate for Portland City Commissioner Position 2. Learn more at NickFish2008.com.

This year we can change the direction of our country and change the direction of our city. As a lifelong progressive Democrat, I am running to bring a new voice to City Hall.

For the past 20 years, as a civil rights lawyer and civic activist, I have helped people without power achieve justice by fighting for better pay and benefits for health care workers, helping those suffering the crushing burden of poverty find good homes and leading a community coalition to save the Portland Women's Crisis Line. Pursuing equality is not about lofty platitudes. It is about the hard work of creating opportunity in people's lives.

That’s why trusted progressive leaders and organizations throughout our community are supporting my campaign - from Governor Barbara Roberts, Gretchen Kafoury and Rep. Tina Kotek to the Multnomah County Democrats (co-endorsed), NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon (Green Light)and the Basic Rights Oregon Equality PAC (Green Light).

Nothing is more fundamental to our success as a city than maintaining great urban school districts. Great schools anchor our neighborhoods, maintain our quality of life and attract the businesses that we need to make this city thrive. My commitment to public education is very personal. My daughter is a ninth grader in Portland Public Schools, and my wife teaches history at Portland State University.

As City Commissioner, I'll be a tireless advocate for kids and schools. Whether it's supporting the Children's Investment Fund, advocating for stable and adequate funding from Salem, or building partnerships for before-and-after schools programs, city government has a vital role to play in supporting our schools. I am proud that I am the only candidate in this race endorsed by both the Portland Association of Teachers and Stand for Children.

Our schools are but one piece of an interconnected set of issues key to Portland’s success which require a fresh perspective. We all know the high cost of living, combined with the recession, are pricing too many people out of our city, including older adults, working families and young people. The rapid rise in housing costs poses a clear threat to our neighborhoods, schools and livability. We need a city government that is responsive to all of these voices.

As City Commissioner, I will lead the City-County 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, expand the supply of housing that is affordable for working families and work to close the gap in minority home ownership. We cannot allow troubled economic times to slow the progress that Portland has made in caring for our most vulnerable citizens.

The best way for Portland to lead the way out of the Bush recession is to create the kind of jobs the rest of the country aspires to have. I will be a champion of our neighborhood small businesses, and for green collar jobs that benefit our community and environment. A broad coalition of labor organizations have endorsed my campaign to protect and grow family wage jobs in Portland: AFSCME Local 189, the NW Oregon Labor Council, the Columbia-Pacific Building Trades, IBEW Local 48, Laborers Local 483, UFCW Local 555, Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, Teamsters Joint Council 37, and SEIU Local 49 (dual). Editorial boards across the city, including The Oregonian, Willamette Week, Just Out, El Hispanic News, The Skanner and The PSU Vanguard, have endorsed my positive vision for Portland’s future.

You can read more about my campaign at www.nickfish2008.com. I ask for your vote by May 20.

  • (Show?)

    Nick understands the urgency of expanding Portland's stock of affordable, workforce housing and will be an effective member of the Portland City Commission. I also appreciate his early support of Barack Obama, despite the fact that he had his own race to think about.

    Nick's a great guy and a solid replacement for Erik Sten. Go Fish!

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    I hope Nick keeps, and actually does, these promising ideas of his and does not become petty, uptight, and intimidating like Randy Leonard, especially over IKEA signs and duct tape.

  • Promise King (unverified)

    For some us - liberty, and the need to be truly free from social injustices remain our biggest challenge. I have no qualms with you if you think more bike lanes, and the need to protect spotted-owl is your biggest headache. Yep! we ought to band together to protect our environment. But for a sizable segment of us humans in the City, our liberty face daily threat from some with hate on their sleeves, and our progressive spirit challenged by fears,and indefference from our leaders. We yearn for real champions. For long now Nick Fish has been our consistent ally and a champion for a whole host of us who are daily challenged by the rudeness and crudeness of work-place human biases and outright racial discrimination.

  • (Show?)

    Nick, it's a bit late to influence Blue Oregon readers. I'm guessing that you've got a higher percentage of people who have already voted than any other demographic group you could think of......

    That said, I voted for you in the punditology thingy but I don't live in Portland. I'm guessing you'll be seeing my wife at the Clinton/Fish/Dozono deal this weekend.

    Stay humble for as long as you can. Remarks upthread are worth internalizing.......

  • John Mulvey (unverified)

    I am proud that I am the only candidate in this race endorsed by both the Portland Association of Teachers and Stand for Children.

    Hey, here's one for the peanut gallery: does the sentence above seem misleading?

    Stand did a joint endorsement (with Jim Middaugh). So if you were to diagram this sentence, it would be a true statement: Nick is "the only candidate... endorsed by both."

    But wouldn't a normal person take it to mean that Nick was the only candidate Stand endorsed and the only candidate PAT endorsed?

    I'm asking because I really don't know the answer. Is this in bounds or out?


  • John Mulvey (unverified)

    Here's Stand's announcement, fyi:

    "Stand for Children dually endorses Nick Fish and Jim Middaugh for City Council Position #2.

    An experienced labor lawyer with a long history of community service, Nick Fish has a record of bringing people together to tackle tough problems. He has been a staunch supporter of Portland’s public schools and an advocate for key funding measures, along with his work on affordable housing. Nick’s skills and his connections with the business and education communities will make him an effective ally for Stand for Children.

    Jim Middaugh has hands-on experience in City Hall and has worked across bureaus to push through innovative programs, such as the Schools, Families, and Housing Initiative. As a parent and school volunteer he has been an advocate for school funding and education issues, along with his work on affordable housing and environmental protection. Jim brings progressive grassroots activism with broad and deep roots in our community to his candidacy, which will help make him a strong champion for Stand for Children issues."

  • James X. (unverified)

    Nick, if this is an insider vs. outsider race, what is it about City Hall that I should be upset about enough to want to oust the insiders and install the outsiders?

  • Bill Jones (unverified)

    what is it about City Hall that I should be upset about enough to want to oust the insiders and install the outsiders? JK: Hundresd of millions to well connected developers to make uneconimic things like the Pearl, the SoWhat, light rail, streetcar and TODs "happen."

    If any of these made economic sense (IE: people would actually pay what they cost), they would be built without government dollars taken from schools, police, fire and other basic services.

    Thanks JK

  • David M. (unverified)

    Portland city hall has screwed middle class Portlanders for years now, building the street rail, the Pearl, the south waterfront, et al, at taxpayer expense. All these projects should have been funded by developers and the businesses that benefited from the improvements.

    Sam Adams will continue this fiscally ruinous trend, along with Randy Leonard. Portlanders need to vote in all new people in city hall that will stop burdening families with the costs of these pet projects, and put the costs on the businesses and developers who benefit from them.

  • David M. (unverified)

    And another thing - why does a Portland city commissioner need a staff of NINE taxpayer-paid employees? I think that is fiscally indefensible!

  • John Mulvey (unverified)

    If any of these made economic sense (IE: people would actually pay what they cost), they would be built without government dollars taken from schools, police, fire and other basic services.


    So if there's a big patch of property that's been abandoned for decades, old owner's long gone, it's access is cut off by freeways and it has some perceived contamination issues?

    Some cities would do nothing. Those cities are called "shitholes."

    Here in Portland, we go out and get a commitment from our largest employer --an educational not-for-profit in a mostly clean industry that's created more jobs than any other over the last ten years, btw --to double its size by moving into the area in question.

    This agreement then leads to a partnership that smooths the way for the property to be made "build ready" and fixes the transportation connection issues. The City and the employer negotiate some innovative new transportation systems that get more of these new employees out of their cars, reducing emissions in the City. They also get the beginnings of a new park and some commitments for affordable and senior housing at the site.

    This has not been a smooth process, and there should be good, aggressive public watchdogs involved at every step. The City should be bargaining hard on every bit of the project.

    BUT: it's a good project that's good for this city.

    So Bill, let's assume you actually live in Portland --which none of the people who mouth off about SW ever turn out to be -- isn't urban infill development better than building new schools, roads, sewers and everything else in some new area, letting the old ones rot, and continuing to move people further from their work, all the while plowing up more and more farmland? If you're looking for economic efficiency, doesn't it all seem very wasteful?

    The magic hand of the marketplace takes all that taxpayer money invested over the years and just lets it turn into vacant lots and broken windows where nobody wants to live. Some of us get new McMansions, but the person who makes us our lattes has to ride the bus for two hours to get there.

    Your preferred system makes me think you'd be better off moving to Detroit or San Jose.


  • ashley Henry (unverified)

    Nick's post is impressive in many ways. There's no doubt that he's been a good citizen and has good ideas. However, his suggestion that he's an outsider is a bit laughable. Just because he hasn't worked in City Hall doesn't make him an outsider (and why exactly that would matter in this race doesn't make sense to me anyway). Nick has been very involved in politics in Portland and other places he's lived, and he's very well connected with some of our city's biggest business interests. To be clear, I have absolutely nothing against big business in principle, but the notion that Nick will always be fighting for the little guy should be considered carefully in light of his connection with people whose interests may not be congruent with those of the little guy. It might be a good idea to check out his donor base from this and his former campaigns to get an idea of who will be making frequent visits and calls to his office. I feel much more confident that Jim Middaugh will serve all of Portland well and continue his own impressive tradition of public service.

    I feel obliged to mention that I worked for Nick Fish when he ran against Sam Adams in 2003-04. We won the primary against Sam. I quit my job as campaign manager right away because my experience working for Nick was terrible at best. I experienced Nick as having an awful temper and disrespectful attitude toward me despite the fact that I was giving 10-15 hours a day to his campaign---including most weekend days---for a 8 and a half month time period. He also had no qualms about snapping at others, such as his family, in front of his staff. Although I cannot speak for anyone else's experience, I can say that soon after Nick entered the race for Sten's seat, I received a phone call from a very prominent citizen who'd been asked to endorse Nick again. She told me she was calling because she'd heard that Nick treated me poorly while I worked for him and that she'd also heard that other women had had similar experiences. For those eager to work in City Hall, you may want to be cautious about taking a job with Nick if, on the off chance, he beats Mr. Middaugh. I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't a very experienced campaign manager, but despite some of my shortcomings in the job, there is simply no excuse for continually treating employees disrespectfully and with disdain.

  • David R (unverified)

    If you want City Hall to stop "screwing" the middle class with projects like the Pearl District and others then you need stop electing people who are taking tens of thousands of dollars from the very people and companies who do business with the PDC and other City Bureaus.

    Nick's contributor list is a who's who of PDC and City contractors, developers, lobbyists, business interests and insiders. And, while Nick says he is for transparency and openness in government he rarely cites his incredibly deep ties to big business and the status quo.

    If you want change and open government, don't vote for a candidate who is taking money from those who have run the City for years and doesn't talk about it.

    Here's a few more of Nick's "grassroots" contributors...

    Squires & Lopez, PC

    Committee to Re-Elect Nydia M Velazquez

    Kell, Alterman & Runstein, LLP

    Edwards for State Treasurer (Randall)

    Gard Communications

    Ball Janik

    Bay City, LLC

    Joint Council of Teamsters No. 37 Political Fund

    Dave Barrows & Associates, Inc

    Otak, Inc.

    Northwest Cedars Management

    R.B. Pamplin Corporation

    Amalgamated Transit Union 757 Political Fund

    Oregon AFSCME Council 75

    Oregonians for Affordable Housing (Homebuilders Association)

    Portland Trail Blazers

    Local 48 Electricians PAC

    Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors PAC

    AFSCME Local 189

    Daniel Lavey (consultant for Gordon Smith)

    Alliance – PAC (Portland Business Alliance)

    Heritage Investment Corporation

    Oregon Bankers PAC

    Credit Union Legislative Action Fund

    McKanna, Bishop, Joffe & Sullivan

    Neuburg Investment Real Estate

    Birch & Company

    The Commerce Bank of Oregon

    Kalberer Company

    Stacy and Witbeck, Inc.

    Nat'l Utility Contractor Assn. of Oregon & SW Washington

    Dunson Equities Corporation

    Bank of America Corporation PAC

    Elizabeth (Betsy) Johnson (State Senator)

    The Standard

    Randy Leonard

    Portland Metropolitan Association of Building Owners and Managers PAC

    Building Trades PAC

    Commercial Association of Realtors Political Action Committee

    United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555

    Heritage Investment Corp.

    Steven Pfieffer (industry lawyer)

    The Zidell Companies

    Homer G. Williams

    Dike Dame (Homer's partner)

    Robert Ball

    Douglas Obletz

    Joe Weston

    Barry Schlesinger

    Tom Imeson

    Robert Stoll

    Mark Rosenbaum (chair of PDC)

    Al Jubitz

    Robert Gerding

    Mark Edlen

    Steven Naito

    Ala Tresidder

    Brad Malsin

  • (Show?)

    If any of these made economic sense (IE: people would actually pay what they cost), they would be built without government dollars taken from schools, police, fire and other basic services.

    Right on! Just like the all-wise invisible hand of the market leads people to actually pay what schools, police and fire services cost ... oh, wait ...

    no state = no market

  • redcellpolitical (unverified)

    "Hundresd of millions to well connected developers to make uneconimic things like the Pearl, the SoWhat, light rail, streetcar and TODs "happen."

    If any of these made economic sense (IE: people would actually pay what they cost), they would be built without government dollars taken from schools, police, fire and other basic services."

    Um... no. Bill the problem with your response is it fails to look at the long term impact of urban development and economic development policy. The unknowns of such policy are usually in the soft effects: how do they change the perception of the city to business and educated workers.

    Government pump priming is an age old principal of economic development and with out it much of Portland would suffer still from the dereliction it endured before Neil G refocused the city on developing its CBD and inner suburbs.

    The Pearl is hardly a boondoogle or "uneconomic" development of the Pearl has led to a new positive impact on tax revenue, reduced the need for single occupant car travel, helped maintain the urban boundary and given real options for multi-generational living in the heart of the city.

    South Waterfront, though today suffering from the perceived downturn in the economy may well someday produce the same benefits which will far exceed the short term costs associated with the development. The pot of development dollars used for such projects does not mean that other areas suffer. In most cases development money is dished at by the Feds and the funds have very specific limitations on their use: read sidewalks in the Cully usually do not qualify for Fed funding.

    As for the Tram, even Sho admits in retrospect that completion of the Tram has been a positive for the city, creating a beautiful (if in the eye of the beholder) public art and transport project that has definite value in attracting visitors and helped keep the city's single largest employer in the city. As the baby boomers age, SoWat will attract more and more retirees who want easy access to health care and maintainence free living and, eventually, car free living.

    You may not remember but there was a time that every one was opposed to the re-development of the Civic Auditorium area. Now it is a premier residential and business address and the condo towers (though in my opinion most unnatractive) continue to be very popular places to relocate (if only from Dunthorpe, but what were once Dunthorpe dollars are now Portland dollars.

    It is not a zero sum game! When I was growing up here most of inner NE was considered derilict, even by the residents. Today those people are much wealthier as the value of their homes has appreciated and, if they have kept them, their children and children's children will benefit for the better schools increasing wealth brings.

  • Sarah Carlin Ames (unverified)

    I, too, worked on Nick Fish's campaign (primary and general) in 2004. Ashley Henry is right -- she and Nick had a terribly dysfunctional working relationship, and probably should have parted ways well before the primary ended. But given the number of smart and opinionated women who have worked with and for Nick over the years (and there are many), I think it's off base to generalize from her experience.

    My advice to anyone looking to work for a politician is do your homework. You're tying your professional reputation to theirs, after all, so you had better know your boss and believe in the cause.

    Nick has run a 100 percent positive campaign. He's won the respect of teachers (solo) and Stand for Children(joint), housing advocates and developers, unions and the PBA, The O, Tribune, WW, Skanner, Just Out, El Hispanic. . . . . and my old boss, Barbara Roberts. He's earned that wide respect because he's worked for equal rights, affordable housing and schools for years in this community. I'd have no qualms at all advising my friends to shoot their resumes his way if he wins(I'm happily otherwise employed).


  • (Show?)

    I didn't work on the campaign in '04, but I have been doing work for the campaign in '06. Never once have I seen Nick lose his temper, yell at anyone, etc. In fact, even when debating heated topics in campaign meetings, he had a cool temper.

    I've worked with a lot of candidates over the past 16 years, and Nick has been one of the easiest to work with.

    I've enjoyed working on his campaign and would recommend his campaign (or his office in City Hall once elected) to anyone I know.

    <h2>Disclaimer: I built the Nick Fish for City Council web site, but I speak only for myself and not the campaign.</h2>
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