Ed Garren: Why I'm Running

By Ed Garren of Portland, Oregon. Ed is a candidate for Portland City Council. Learn more at EdForPDX.com.

Portland is filled with smart, creative people, who want the city to “work” for as many people as possible.

Our city is at an important moment in our development. If we want our economy and livability to grow, we have to be willing to open up to new ways of dealing with problems, ways that include the intelligence and experience of the diverse population that is now calling Portland home, and the even more diverse peoples who will be moving here in the future.

Portland, along with the rest of the country, is at a nexus point with regard to peak oil, climate change, and transforming our lifestyles into a more sustainable way of living.

We can either hang on to the current paradigms until we are pulled down by them, or we can start to embrace new technology, and new ways of creating more inclusive public policy that more evenly distributes “The Portland Dream” to all residents.

One of the biggest issues facing Portland today is providing a genuine "welcome" to persons and businesses that move here. If we are to move Portland forward into a prosperous future, we must shed our "small town" attitude that there are two kinds of Portlanders, that only long time residents or native born are "real Portlanders", that newcomers are suspect, or somehow not as good as "us." That attitude is a principle impediment to economic growth.

Being relatively new to Portland, I bring a wealth of experiences from other places, specific talents from direct experience working with problems like excessive force and racial profiling in the police department, redevelopment issues, gentrification, shifting demographics, and other situations that relate to growth and change.

I started my life in one of the smallest and most remote towns in the United States, with less than 4,000 residents. I moved here from one of the two largest cities in the country, with all of the diversity and multi-cultural layers that one can imagine.

I have no interest or desire to change the basic character or strength of our great city. But I do think that the current issues and economic difficulties demand some fresh ways of dealing with issues that are being ignored. There are too many issues in our city that are being quietly avoided, with the hope that they will somehow fix themselves, or go away.

Neither will happen. We must address these issues and engage in meaningful dialogue to work to improve them.

I grew up in a small central Florida town that was economically depressed, over 30% of the population was on public assistance for six months a year, and until 1964, it was segregated. My experiences watching the quiet dignity of my African American neighbors helped me to understand the complex nature of social change, and appreciate the importance of honest communication in community life.

I went on to college, but then had to drop out after two years due to family issues. Taking a position at the local natural gas utility in Tampa, I became a Journeyman Gas Pipe Fitter and appliance repairman. I also taught myself how to fix cars and major appliances, heating and air conditioning, plumbing and all round handyman work.

Some of the most important work I ever did was with my hands. If I made a mistake, people could die. We had another employee who didn't properly check for a leak and a building blew up, and three people died. So I have a deep respect for and appreciation of people who are tradespeople. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty to get a job done.

I returned to college, completing a Masters degree in Rehabilitation. My career has included working with a wide range of people, helping them to get their lives moving in a productive direction. Many of those people come from communities that tend to get left behind by life in this society; the blind, disabled, high risk youth, addicts, alcoholics, and displaced homemakers, homeless people, senior citizens and people of color.

Being gay has taught me a lot about discrimination, compassion and justice. You never know who out there is going to hate you just because you challenge some belief that they hold dear, but you know it's going to happen and there isn't much you can do except try to retain your dignity as you go on with your life, and walk that fine line between trying to be reasonable, and dealing with the daily exhaustion of being someone's target. It has given me a lot of insight into what under-represented and under-resourced people have to deal with on a daily basis, never being able to take feeling safe for granted. It has also given me a great appreciation for the importance of graciousness and patience.

All of we candidates have great ideas. Any ideas we have will be developed (hopefully) through a vigorous public process so that the best resources the city can offer will be utilized. But the character of the person is important as well. Has the person demonstrated a life of committed service? Do they have a genuine and time tested breadth of knowledge that has been forged by extensive experience working with people and difficult social issues? Are they committed to transparency in government, and the opportunity for full participation in policy development?

I invite you to look over my campaign web site, EdForPDX.com, which has a lot more detailed information about many issues. I also invite you to send me an email if you have any questions you would like answered.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)

    Okay, where do you stand on the issue of giving millions in tax dollars and privileges to sports team owners, or subsidizing them in any way? (such as taxing the people to build a government-owned stadium or arena for any such owner, while theater chains, supermarket companies and just about everyone else builds and pays for their own places).

    Bob Tiernan Portland

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