Beyond the Talking Points in the Portland Mayor's Race

Evan Manvel

Voters in the Portland mayoral race - especially the undecided - are desperate for authentic information.

We want to know something real about the candidates, beyond what's in the carefully polished television ads and mail pieces, and the oft-eliding answers on candidate questionnaires that may have been massaged by staff and consultants.

We want to get a deep understanding of our potential next mayor, recognizing this election is not about putting a bird or a talking point on it, but about the future of our home.

I, for one, find the videos of the Willamette Week endorsement interviews give us a look at the candidates when they are pressured to answer hard questions and go beyond practiced talking points. While the videos are each a few minutes long, that length allows the candidates to convey real information, instead of the other formats that reward more sound-bite answers.

I'd encourage voters to invest some time in watching these, as there is a lot of stake in this election.

A viewing note: the first video (above/right) is about independence from powerful city interests. It includes a back-forth about Brady's support for a tax break to certain Portland business owners who make more than $87,000. That tax break has been a priority of the Portland Business Alliance (see each candidate's answer on the PBA questionnaire here). The Owners Compensation Deduction code is here. I don't claim to be an expert in that issue.

The second video includes a heated discussion of Measures 66 and 67 and what the mayoral candidates did about those measures, and an assertion by Brady about inconsistency on transportation funding messages. Background: (Bike Walk Vote questionnaires are publicly available).

Brady talks about her leadership in bringing forward the Oregon Business Association funding proposal in 2009. Background: the OBA proposal was significantly less progressive than what ended up passing the legislature with the support of every Democrat besides Rep. Schaufler. OBA proposed for the revenue increases to be temporary, had an across-the-board 1% income tax increase for all Oregonians, would have hit all businesses across the board (the Legislative proposal progressively protected small businesses), would have capped the top end of the corporate minimum for super-large corporations at $25,000 instead of $100,000 per year, and raised less revenue than Measures 66 and 67.

Here's the discussion of candidates' positions on the Oregon Sustainability Center:

And here's a discussion about who each candidate would refuse to take money from:

Finally, for those who want to listen to the hour-long environmental debate, it's now been posted on the website of the Oregon Environmental Council.

Good luck, voters. We're all counting on you. And thanks to Willamette Week, for making us more educated voters.

Disclaimers: I've done some contract work for OEC, have endorsed Jefferson Smith, and co-chair Bike Walk Vote.

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    Thanks for posting, this is really informative!

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    I increasingly have lost respect for the Willy Week throughout this whole process Specifically, all three profiles by WWeek of three good candidates were insulting, completely disrespectful (i.e."Bus Boy" really?) misleading & less than useful if you were looking for something more than unsourced gossip on each candidate.

    One thing I find interesting about the exchange on "Independence" is the questioner does not let Brady cite the CRC as an example but Smith a few minutes later does and is given a pass. Not sure what it says, and again - I think WWeek has treated this whole race as some sort of effort to "take down the cool kids" who in their eyes appear to be the three major candidates for mayor - but that was one of my takeways from that first clip.

    As for 66/67 - I think it is a lot more nuanced than "all D's voted for the proposals except for Schaufler". There were intense discussions around the OBA compromise and there were some leading Dem figures (including our current Governor) who would have preferred that the compromise OBA proposal be adopted in order to avoid a bruising 66/67 campaign. I know for a fact that within the Dem caucus there were strong advocates for adopting the OBA proposal.

    There were others, including myself, that thought a statewide discussion about progressive taxation was long overdue and it was time to start tacking back towards a more balanced tax policy.

    But in general I think one can say there was Dem support on both sides of that debate but in the end the Caucus did what a good Caucus does and comes together.

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      Hi Jeremy, I can't speak to the M66/67 question, but the independence question related specifically to the Portland Business Alliance and the major trade unions, not to any other interest group or faction.

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      Jeremy, do you have a better source for information that goes beyond the tv ad and consultant-driven sound bites?

      Being against the CRC mega-highway is taking a principled stand against a huge number of entrenched, moneyed political interests, who've given tens of thousands of dollars in the mayor's race.

      Being for the mega-highway, not so much (how much money are the anti-CRC forces giving in the mayors race?)

      And I'd note that on the CRC, WWeek's Nigel Jaquiss didn't let Smith use the mega-highway example during the KATU debate when he asked Jefferson for specific examples for independence from the public employee unions. Smith provided some, if you go and watch that clips.

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        To be clear my beef with Willy Week was not these specific videos but their print profiles of the candidates and their increasingly snide, antagonistic and outright hostile approach to those who step forward to run like Jefferson, Charlie and Eileen have.

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    Your pinpoint example of a "tax break," has a link that you apparently didn't follow, because when asked about increasing the owners compensation deduction, Ms. Brady said yes, Mr. Hales said he supported it (but hadn't decided on the dollar amount), and Mr. Smith said he was open to a discussion about it. Or to put it another way, the real difference is that Ms. Brady took a stand about the effect of the business license tax on small businesses, while the other candidates waffled.

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      I'd definitely invite any voters who are undecided to read the candidates answers to the Portland Business Alliance questionnaire in detail.

      The tax is on small business owners that have owner income above $87,000. I would presume that's a small subset of small businesses - those who are doing so well they're paying their owner around or over six figures.

      It reads as a tax break that will help out a subset of the roughly top 10% of income earners. If you think it's good policy to be decreasing city revenue by cutting taxes for the rich, then support the cut.

      I'm open to corrections on how the Owners Compensation Deduction works.

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    The Portland Greens are re-voting tonight on their endorsement of Eileen Brady. I'd bet she loses the endorsement.

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      I wasn't at this meeting, but a re-vote didn't happen. The plan was to vote on a potential re-vote at a later meeting. That vote didn't happen either. Consensus didn't happen and apparently the issue ran out of time during the regular meeting and concerns regarding notice and such weren't addressed.

      I don't see Smith winning any endorsement now that we have both questionnaires filled out. Smith is better on one issue, Brady is better on most others. It looks like the right call was made by the group (although I wouldn't have endorsed any of the major monied candidates myself).

      In the end, 2nd and 3rd place doesn't matter that much. We're voting for Cameron Whitten this round and another endorsement meeting will take place for the general election as per our bylaws.


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