Why don't we insist on both: progressive values and real results?

By Beth Cohen of Portland, Oregon. Beth says of herself : "I am a Portlander who loves to learn about and discuss local politics. I also love elections, there will be a huge election party at my house come November."

I have listened to friends who are still up in the air about the City Commissioner race here in Portland -- the one between Amanda Fritz and Mary Nolan. Some of them suggest that because Fritz is a woman or because she's willing to vote against proposals she thinks are unwise, or because she's willing to spend $140,000 of her own money to win, that's enough to warrant a second term. For some of my friends, they're a bit uncomfortable that Nolan has challenged her.

This hesitancy or even queasiness was captured in the profile and later the endorsement by Willamette Week, who dubbed Nolan 'the Anti-Fritz'. While the phrase highlights significant differences between the candidates and the real choice we have this May, I think it says as much about the mindset of voters as it does about either Fritz or Nolan. Too often, we talk big about progressive values but shrink from the reality that it takes hard work and a certain amount of toughness to translate them into action.

I see it differently. I think we Portland progressives should first insist that candidates hold strongly progressive values. But that's not enough. If we really want to make a difference, we should also support and elect candidates who demonstrate the chops to deliver important results. And to get right to the point, can we start to admire a woman like Nolan who is bold, skilled and effective playing hardball on our behalf against the big boys?

The video of the Willamette Week editorial board interview reveals substantive disagreements between Fritz and Nolan about policy and vision for Portland, as well as contrasting presentation styles. Nolan consistently answers questions with strategic depth. She has the acumen to know how to invest in our city, provide services, and build the coalitions needed to make our city flourish again -- for everyone.

Rep. Nolan has served six terms in the Oregon Legislature, including as Democratic Majority Leader and co-chair of the powerful Joint Ways and Means Committee, which writes the state budget. She stared down lobbyists and colleagues who wanted to weaken progressive programs. She stood up for the things we want -- and she delivered remarkable results. It really isn't hyperbole to say Nolan showed the guts and smarts to create or save programs that have improved in some way the life of virtually every Oregonian. That budget experience will be incredibly helpful in City Hall. In their endorsement of her, The Portland Tribune said, 'We believe [Nolan] is among the most qualified candidates to run for city commissioner in recent years.'

She also has a sharp mind for policy. Nolan recently helped pass Oregon's Healthy Kids Program, bringing health insurance to 80,000 previously uninsured children. After big tobacco killed the first version of this program, Nolan pulled together hospitals, insurance companies, children's advocates and enough legislative votes to pass a version that stuck. While many contributed to its success, Nolan's skilled coalition building helped give the Healthy Kids Program the traction it needed. She isn't done there; she's eager to help bring health care to uninsured adults in Portland.

Nolan is the candidate who can help Portland live up to the motto: A City that Works. In a recent Think Out Loud program, Nolan reported she's heard time and again that Portland's permitting process is painfully slow, sometimes project-killing. I believe her; my friends who do construction and home renovation tell me the exact same thing. In order for locally-owned progressive businesses to prosper, the City needs to keep pace so companies can move forward.

Nolan sees Portland waking up from the recession and wants to help us get back on the path to prosperity and environmental leadership. She wants Portland to lead the state in economic growth, progressive ideas, environmental innovation, and educational accomplishment. She won't be steamrolled. We can count on her to make good things happen.

Her years of providing results has meant a long and diverse list of endorsements, including support from Democratic Governor Barbara Roberts and Republican Gov. Vic Atiyeh, Mayor Vera Katz, leaders in the Native American community, the Asian American Community, the Black community and the Latino Community, the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood PAC, Oregon Council for Retired Citizens, Bike! Walk! Vote!, AFSCME, and literally hundreds more.

We aren't electing the Homecoming Queen. It's okay for us progressives to insist on both progressive values and real results. Nolan will simply be the sharper, more strategic, and more effective progressive leader for us at City Hall. Let's send her there.

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    Well said Beth! I agree completely. Progressives need to be able to make their case forcefully as well as substantively, Mary Nolan can accomplish this. It is not enough to merely have the right intentions, but rather we need someone who can actually accomplish things!

    Nolan has my vote.

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    Fabulous article Beth! Thanks!

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    Fantastic article Beth! You really articulated why we need Mary Nolan on City Council. She is someone who stands strong and keeps fighting. I think we need more progressives who can get results at every level of elected office, and Mary Nolan is one of those progressives.

    (Full disclosure, I work for the Nolan campaign. My opinions are my own.)

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    In my personal opinion the media has pre selected whom they would like to be involved in this race. Our needs are being ignored. We don't like the candidates who do not WORK for us. Please do your unbiased job and give us a last minute expose of all candidates running for these races. I believe unless that happens the wrong people will get the jobs. I support Teressa L Raiford for Position 1 City Council. She wants to work for Portlanders. http://www.teressaforportland.com/ many neighborhood associations are supporting her as well and lots of the general public. We need more like her and Mark White. People from the general public who are qualified and ready to serve.

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      "In my personal opinion..."

      That's hilarious, coming from a fake Facebook account.

      Sorry, but you're blocked. Only real humans here at BlueOregon.

      (And you might make a list of your "friends" on Facebook. FB is pretty ruthless about killing profiles that don't represent real humans.)

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    Nolan fights--but she fights dirty. Don't like that.

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      Nolan is not fighting dirty. She has been careful to not critique anything personal about Fritz. She has been careful to compare and contrast on the issues and to hold a sitting commissioner accountable for her record. That is what politics is about. Fritz has not pointed out one untruth or nasty thing that Nolan has said. Even Politfact has sided with Nolan. It seems to me that Fritz and her followers are unfaiirly targeting Nolan for being negative.

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    Is claiming support from every union member whose leadership has endorsed her legitimate? That's what Nolan has done. You may not call that nasty, but it is disingenuous.

    How fair is it to claim that the initial savings that came from Fritz's ability to persuade her fellow Commissioners to vote for ultra-violet treatment of Bull Run water instead of the much more expensive filtration system no longer count because the city has won--at least temporarily--its complete argument. Dismissing what Fritz did because the state has helped the city to gain its entire position is petty and untrue.

    Being a progressive also includes knowing your constituents, and that means going out into the neighborhoods and attending events--something that Nolan doesn't do. Additionally, for whatever reason, Nolan was unwilling to share her answers on interest-group surveys. Openness is the sign of a progressive, too, isn't it?

    I attended the debate at City Club. As a constituent in Mary Nolan's district, I was disappointed by her performance. She seemed more a typical ambitious politician than a progressive champion.

    Keeping secrets, undercutting one's political opponent's achievements, avoiding your constituents unless they have big money--these are not the mark of a progressive.

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