Portland City Council Candidates Interviewed

Witigonen has an online interview with all of the candidate for Portland City Council. The post is a first in a series of questions for the candidates, and asks candidates whether they support Portland's commission style of government or reform:

With Sam Adams running for mayor, that leaves an open seat on the Portland City Council. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of great candidates running for it. Since we have no idea who to support, we figured we would start out by simply asking the candidates questions that concern us. Rather than send out a large questionnaire, we're going to give the candidates time to reflect on the issues and provide us, and you, with a well thought out response.

The question: Do you support a move away from the commission style of government and towards a system where we elect our officials by district? What benefits do you perceive both systems of having?

All of the candidates voice their support for commission-style government. Some excerpts from their responses:

Jeff Bissonnette: Portlanders have spoken loud and clear about their views on Portland's form of government, most recently in 2006 by soundly rejecting a proposed charter change that focused specifically on the form of government. That followed a similar resounding defeat in 2002 for a proposed change to the form of government. Therefore, it is a waste of time, energy and money to continue to push this topic.

John Branam: I do not support a move away from the commission style of government and towards a system where we elect our officials by district. Commissioners, by virtue of their specified role in Portland, are elected to represent citizens from accross our city and not just those from a select group of neighborhoods.

Amanda Fritz: Not at this time. Portlanders have recently voted on the latest proposal to change our City's form of government, and decided to keep the Commission. It's time to make the structure we have work better for all. I believe the most important innovation allowing representation of advocates for underserved areas and underrepresented groups on the Council in Portland is Public Campaign Financing. We should give that system a chance to prove its worth before going back to discuss possible changes in the form of government.

Charles Lewis: While I appreciate arguments for and against the commission style of government, I personally prefer Portland's current form of government over the idea of a "Strong Mayor" form of government. Because each Commissioner is directly responsible to the people of Portland, I believe that they are more responsive to community concerns.

Chris Smith: I am a strong supporter of the Commission Form of Government in Portland. With former Mayor Bud Clark I chaired the recent campaign against Measure 26-91 which would have replaced our form of government with a Mayor/Manager form. Measure 26-91 did NOT provide for district representation. I was also a volunteer in the 2002 campaign that opposed another measure that WOULD have provided district representation.

Read the rest of the candidate's responses and discuss over at Witigonen.


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