The Jefferson Smith I Know

By Ali O'Neill of Portland, Oregon. Ali is a small business owner and a nurse, and is the secretary-treasurer of O’Neill Electric Inc.

As a woman business owner and strong supporter of women’s rights since childhood, I would like to express my unconditional support for Jefferson Smith. I find it very disappointing that there is more focus on a public figure’s past mistakes rather than their visions for the future. As a business owner I have sometimes been faced with difficult hiring decisions, when the most qualified candidate has past life experiences that may seem to disqualify them for our business environment. I always ask myself whether past mistakes matter, or what this person can do in the future. Looking to the future has always proven the way to go. What I’ve learned from that, as well as my own mistakes, is that for a lot of us, while we wish we could go back and erase these experiences off our “record”, they’re a big part of making us who we are and able to persevere and try to do better. If our society progresses to the point where we will only elect candidates who have never done anything wrong, we will end up with leaders who either have no life experience because they’ve been confined to a plastic bubble for life, or those who are so corrupt or rich that they can pay off everyone who could possibly say something negative.

My husband and I have known Jefferson for several years, and his campaign has rented space in our office building for the last year. During that time I’ve had numerous interactions with Jefferson and his staff. We’re all pretty close together in this environment, and a political campaign can be pretty tense. But I’ve never seen anything remotely untoward, never heard Jefferson raise his voice even. Growing up in a rural community, and later working as a critical care nurse for ten years, I came into close contact with too many women who has suffered incidents of domestic violence. Their faces will always be imprinted in my mind. I could not possibly be a stronger advocate for women or more opposed to domestic violence. At the same time, my experiences as both a nurse and a business owner have taught me a lot about the importance and power of forgiveness as we all struggle to be the best human beings we can be.

Portland is a good city, but to become a great city it truly needs to find a way to a future of equity, justice and parity, and to leave its past of cronyism and prejudice behind. We can’t do that by recycling the same politicians over and over. Jefferson Smith points the way to this future. Portland would be wise to forgive the past and follow him.

Comments

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    Foregiveness isn't the issue - Jefferson has shown some good qualities, but we're selecting a leader and we have to expect honesty from our leaders. Sadly we didn't get the facts until the 11th hour when it was a two-way race, and we deserved to know them much earlier in the process. I wrote in Eileen Brady for lack of a better choice, I can't support either Jefferson or Charlie.

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        Well, there was the Tony Marino approach - confess everything right up front.

        Of course, he had quite the laundry list. And as it turns out, not a complete one.

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          See, that's the problem - you can try to confess everything and then when someone finds something you forgot, then you must be a liar. So you're screwed either way.

          To me, unless it shows a pattern, is relevant to the job, is something that is major (you were driving drunk, for instance), etc. I don't see it as being relevant to the race.

          Getting all that out only works when it happens on both sides. Has Hales ever gotten into trouble? Who knows. He's never said and no one has dug up what he was doing when he was in his 20s.

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        If I thought Jefferson S.'s ideas were fresh and new that would have made a difference for me, but I don't. The three main candidates all represented different parts of the Portland establishment as their base constituencies and slightly different modes of business as usual, as far as I can see.

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      Well, Richard, then you must think you can chose facts and be selective of history.

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    Jefferson Smith is mentally unfit for office. Charlie Hales is a retread whom was a resident of Washington State yet still voted in Oregon. I wrote in Eileen Brady. I hope she gets enough votes to send a message to the winner of the mayoral campaign that they don't have a mandate. Portland deserves better candidates.

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        Its unfortunate that is the case. How does the electorate show they are unhappy with the candidates running for mayor? I wish there was a none of the above option on the ballot.

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          By getting out there early in the processes, researching the candidates, supporting your choice, and not sit there passively glancing at headlines occasionally.

          You want it, pwn it! You had every chance in the world to affect your options from the moment Sam Adams was elected four years ago.

          Want effectual leadership? Be effectual in the process your own damn self.

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      I'd imagine it's extraordinarily convenient for a candidate to run as a write-in, skirting around all the mud-slinging and avoiding any sort of serious background investigation that usually happens in a general election (and maybe not as much in a primary). Plus, there's the matter of having a nice buffer of several months, wherein most people will tend to forget any negative feelings they may have had for such a candidate. Then again, the chance of a write-in actually winning is unbelievably miniscule (people tend to find it easier to ink in a circle than to try and spell someone's name on a line), so there's that too.

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      Can you specify the negativity by the Hales campaign? Or are you just attributing the bad press coverage to some kind of Hales machination? Because Hales also got his share of bad press.

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        we don't actually have a letter that says "Please dig up dirt on Eileen Brady for the primary and then Jefferson Smith in the runoff and feed it to the Oregonian and the Willamette Week. Sincerely, Charlie Hales".

        It could just be that people who prefer Hales decided to look for whatever they could, like finding out that Brady actually...talked back to a cop at a traffic stop! Oh my god! Or that she wasn't listed as a business partner for New Seasons on some filing! Wow!

        It could just be that people who prefer Hales went looking for something on Smith. It might not have been Hales himself, or the Hales campaign. But we'd have to be naive to think this new trend of looking for something damaging is not connected to Hales or Hales backers.

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    Folks. Don't you realize that the candidate with the maturity of a 15 year old boy has about the same chances as a snowball in Hell? Is there a Jefferson Smith cult out there? Whoever had the guy's poor wife appear in the "couple's" tv ad should be tarred and feathered.

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      You are the noise in our society's systems that holds people hostage from having an honest exchange.

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    Thank you, Mrs. O'Neill. It is music to hear the balanced woman's perspective.

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    Jefferson Smith is very talented, his wife is amazing and they both have a bright future. They will find a dynamic new role that leverages their skills and abilities. They are an amazing team.

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