A year ago, Eileen Brady officially announced she was running for mayor. She got into the race against Charlie Hales – an experienced campaigner who had won three city-wide races – and presumably Mayor Sam Adams.
It was a bold move, a risky move, a move that showed guts and conviction. Eileen believed she could bring something different to City Hall, something to help this city we call home thrive.
And for the next year, Eileen chased that dream. She threw her heart into the race, and worked countless hours to meet Portlanders and listen to them. She managed to bring in more money than anyone ever had for a Portland mayoral race. She raised the issues she was most passionate about – jobs, most notably, but also education and equal rights. She wanted to break through the false environment-versus-economy dichotomy some believe in.
Of course, running for office – especially one of the most high-profile, important offices in the state – is a hugely difficult task. I have no end of praise for anyone willing to do it.
The mayoral candidates have been under a constant spotlight, had to come up to speed on a diversity of issues, filled out dozens of questionnaires, and attended what most believe to be a record number of joint appearances. They’ve been on television, on the radio, in newspaper endorsement interviews, and on the street. They’ve had long profiles of them published, digging into long-past details including their parking tickets. They’ve been asked to perform talents at Candidates Gone Wild. And meanwhile, they’ve had to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars and talk to tens of thousands of voters.
While I’ve had significant differences about policy with Brady, and have been critical at times, I’ve never doubted her passion for helping the city thrive or her desire to engage with people. Eileen spent significant time with the Bike Walk Vote team, talking with us and listening to our concerns (as well as biking to work with us). She took the time for a one-on-one meeting to give me feedback on my pieces and listen to my opinions. She was friendly and civil even after I was publicly backing another candidate.
Nor do I doubt that she’s done some fabulous work over the past two decades, including years of work for impressive non-profits and businesses, fighting for voter owned elections, and helping expand health care coverage to more Oregonians.
And her family’s passion has been clear. As someone whose father is a City Councilor, I’m somewhat familiar with the challenges campaigning brings to a family. Yet her husband and kids were out there on the campaign trail, listening to voters at events, giving their own money, honk-and-waving at drivers who sped by, and knocking on doors. Hours and hours and hours of effort. My hat is off to the whole family.
Brady had a gracious concession message, including this:
Over the past 12 month, I have learned again what I already knew - this is a town full of people working hard to make their home a better place.
Whoever our next mayor is, I urge everyone to come together as Portlanders to help him and the city we all love so much.
My campaign for mayor is over. But my love and commitment to Portland will continue always.
As C.E.S. Wood said, “Good citizens are the riches of a city.” We’re lucky to have Eileen Brady as one of ours. Thank you, Eileen.