Last week, to little fanfare, longtime community activist Mark White filed his candidacy papers to run for the District 4 City Council seat being vacated by Randy Leonard.
A former Robert L. Liberty Regional Leadership award nominee, the list of organizations Mark has been invovled with runs very long, demonstrating a commitment for civic engagement. Mark is the current president of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association and is the co-chair of the Portland Charter Commission. He is also a member of the Portland-Multnomah Food Policy Council, was one of the founders and planners of the East Portland Exposition (aka the "EastPo ExPo"), and is actively involved with the East Portland Action Plan.
I could go on, but I'll just let Mark's community resume speak for itself.
For Mark, filing the papers without a big press event or similar to-do made the most sense. "I don't really understand all that," explained Mark. "It kind of sort of seems to me like preaching to the choir. I just feel like I have better things to spend my money on."
Speaking of money, as the 2012 election will be the first one in Portland post-public financing, any viable candidate for public office will need to demonstrate his fundraising ability. Mark has a strategy to ensure he will have enough funds for a campaign:
"There is a $50 tax credit people can provide to those running for political office. I already have a number of supporters willing to donate their credit to me, and I am seeking others during this campaign to make similar donations."
By keeping any campaign donations to such a small amount, Mark hopes to communicate a clear message through his candidacy:
"I think people are becoming aware that it's really important who gets elected. And there needs to be an opportunity for people like me- who have no connections to money, or to power- to be able to run for office."
When asked if he could sum up his campaign in three to five words, Mark kept it simple: "Three words? Easy: Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Two more words? Jobs. And jobs."
Mark joins a crowded field for the District 4 seat, running against former U.S. Senate candidate Steve Novick as well as Jeri Williams, a program manager for the city's Office of Neighborhood Involvement. Those who spend a lot of time on the Interwebs can follow Mark's campaign on Facebook and Twitter.