In recent years, Portland politics seems to have seen a series of showdowns between the business community and the progressive political community. And while we're not yet at a kumbaya moment, today's endorsement of Eileen Brady by the Portland Business Alliance seems to represent the beginnings of a rapprochement.
Brady, after all, is a lifelong progressive activist - from serving time for protesting nukes at the Pentagon as a young person, to working with Ecotrust on local food concerns, and most recently, serving on the Oregon Health Policy Board pulling together support for the program to deliver health care to 94,000 Oregon kids.
But if there's one idea at the center of her campaign for mayor, it's this one:
“There is a myth in Portland that says we can’t have both progressive values and a thriving local economy. We have to break through that myth and commit to growing jobs.”
Brady, of course, is uniquely positioned in the mayor's race to make exactly that case - having co-founded New Seasons Market, a thriving local business that's known for its largely progressive and local-first values. In October, for example, she announced a plan for helping grow small businesses in East Portland.
The Oregonian's Beth Slovic has the story of the PBA endorsement:
"When I started out this campaign, I set out to bring this city together behind a progressive vision – that community, labor, business, tech, non-profit, environmental and neighborhood leaders could work together to build a vibrant local economy and help get Portland's struggling families back on their feet," Brady said in a statement. "I know that’s doable - I’ve spent a good part of my career working to build grocery stores that would create good jobs, serve as neighborhood centers, support our farmers, fishers and ranchers and reinvest in the local economy. It is truly gratifying to know that the Portland Business Alliance shares this vision." ...
"Eileen Brady will bring a fresh perspective as well as a business perspective to City Hall," J. Isaac, chair of the Alliance's board of directors, said in a release. "Throughout this process, we asked candidates about their views on private-sector job retention and creation, and Eileen has demonstrated to us that she supports our jobs agenda and is committed to improving our economy."
Of course, Brady's campaign is winning support from more than just the downtown business community. Tomorrow morning, she will be endorsed by a group of local technology entrepreneurs committed to building - and keeping - their businesses in Portland. From the announcement:
Scott Kveton is co-founder and chief executive of Urban Airship, a Portland mobile software developer creating unique "push notification" technologies for smartphones whose business is quickly growing good-paying family wage jobs. He says,
“For the first time, a candidate for city office took the time to sit down and listen to Portland's tech leaders. We are a thriving community of growing businesses who want to help build a stronger local economy here in Portland. We believe Eileen Brady's entrepreneurial approach and understanding of our needs is what we need in the Mayor's office. That is why we are taking the extraordinary step of endorsing Eileen Brady for Mayor.”
And next month, Brady will be hosting a policy summit on creating local, environmentally-sustainable businesses. That event will feature sustainable business leader Paul Hawken (the founder of the Smith & Hawken garden store company).