PDX: Jeff Bissonnette, John Branam, Mike Fahey, Amanda Fritz, Charles Lewis, Chris Smith.

In 2008, Portland voters will elect a new member of the City Council - to fill the seat currently held by Sam Adams.

The candidates include Jeff Bissonnette, John Branam, Mike Fahey, Amanda Fritz, Charles Lewis, and Chris Smith.

Willamette Week has released the video of their endorsement interviews. Here's the one for this race.

Which candidate do you support and why? If you're undecided, how will you decide on a candidate?


  • (Show?)

    Haven't had a chance to watch this one yet, although I've met each of the candidates/their staff on the trail.

    It's a hard call. Very hard. I'm still making up my mind, and this video will help that. Anyone have any particular insight?

    This is the biggest pig-pile I've seen so up-close in a long time.

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    I watched the whole thing last night, and I gotta agree - a big ol' mess of great candidates.

    I know most of the candidates personally, but I haven't made up my mind yet.

    The WW video definitely altered my perceptions of some of the candidates - some up, some down - but I'd say that they're all still in the running for me.

    It's worth watching.

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    Sounds like a plan! I'll give it a view at some point today and cross-post reaction here and on my blog. Thanks for the tip!

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    I watched the video. All the candidates seemed like nice, thoughtful persons and to have something to contribute. But none have my vote yet. I am looking for more. This should surprise no one familiar with my major theme. I see a big, global economic and geopolitical power shift taking place the rest of this century as Asia, especially China, grows economically. I am looking for candidates that understand this, who have a vision of what that shift means for Portland's future, and the skills to lead us into that new environment. None of the candidates, nor the questioners, in this video seemed even to understand that this shift was underway. I would like to see Portland become a vibrant international city. The discussion on the video seemed all too provincial for my taste. But, maybe, that's what other Portlanders want. I do not know, lacking one of them displaying some vision along these lines, how I'll make up my mind among the candidates.

  • Kathleen Gardipee (unverified)

    I agree. We have an embarrassment of riches with this race. I know many of them and have nothing but positive things to say about the candidates that I have had interaction with.

    However, I give the edge, and my support, to Chris Smith. Over the years, I have found him to be very smart, thoughtful, informed, pragmatic, and willing to take on tough issues.

    Take a close look at Chris. I think you'll be encouraged.

  • joeldanwalls (unverified)

    The Willamette Week will undoubtedly endorse whomever uses words like "vision", "sustainability", "green", and "creative class" most frequently--especially "creative class", which nicely distinguishes a small self-defined clique from the rest of us deadbeats.

    It also helps if a candidate seeking endorsement places a few phone-sex advertisements.

  • PeteJacobsen (unverified)

    I watched the video a couple days ago on the WW website. While I agree with Kathleen that Chris is very smart, I'm backing Amanda Fritz.

    Amanda is by far the most supportive of neighborhoods, and also is committed to holding her views open on topics until the public is given a chance to testify. Those two things are big deals to me - basically she supports grass roots democracy. She is also very smart, very knowledgeable about Portland government, and has extensive experience from her years on the planning commission. I don't like Chris' strong backing of streetcars w/o looking hard at what else the money could be used for.

    I also liked Amanda in the video for telling WW that the way to fix problems in bureaus was to talk with the bureau chiefs, not to make a splash in the press. Might not help her get their endorsement, but it is sure true!

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    I'm currently leaning toward Amanda as well. I'm very concerned that the Council lacks diversity, not just in race and gender, but of political attitudes and political approach.

    I've been very impressed with the critical approach that Amanda has brought to her blog. Even though she's leans liberal like the rest of the council, she looks critically at issues and doesn't just swallow the kool aid.

    Look specifically at her comments and musings on ethanol and biofuels, which I think evidence is increasingly showing is a bad idea for carbon depletion and for food stuffs. The Council hopped on the biofuel bandwagon without even considering the alternatives--a few choice words about George Bush and big bad oil companies and off we go.

    My sense is that Amanda, while certainly a lot more liberal than me on many issues, brings a critical perspective that I think is sorely lacking at times on the council.

    I think Chris has done marvelous work on transportation planning, I'm not sure what he thinks or has done on other issues. Since Sam has made it clear that he intends to keep control of transportation if he is elected Mayor, I don't see where Chris has anything special to offer.

    At the same time, I don't see that same evidence based, critical attitude in Chris. He's slide all to comfortably into the Adams/Leonard/Sten troika on the Council, and Saltzman would be distinctly marginalized.

    I just don't think that's a good thing. We badly need diversity and critical perspectives on the Council.

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    I don't live in Portland; however, I have to say that I support Amanda for many of the same reasons PeteJacobsen and Paul G. brought up.

    Diversity is a very big reason. Electing Amanda to the city council adds diversity in many ways - ideas, background and community involvement as well as gender.

    There are a lot of good candidates running for this position, and Amanda is the one who brings the most to the council that isn't already represented there.

  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)

    Chris Smith seems to have the most detailed expertise about the functioning of City Government and City Council -- almost like an incumbent without the incumbency. So while Charles Lewis's maverick business-guy approach is appealing, I am concerned that he's doing it because he's made at PDC, not because he has a broader "vision." But I also have to agree with Kathleen -- none of these candidates would be a bad choice.

    One interesting thing about the question to each candidate about which of the other candidates they would vote for... perhaps I'm just cynical, but ... the responses were, I think, telling. Jeff and Chris picked each other, which really does seem to reflect their shared visions. Charles picked Jeff, which (I think) reflects the fact that Jeff does not seem likely to win and/or is the least like Charles (and so is not a threat to Charles). Amanda and Mike pick John, because in some respects they have the seniority pitch, and John is the least likely to challenge that pitch. And John does the same thing in reverse -- he picks Mike, because John's looking for a young voter, and Mike does not threaten that.

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    Finished the video, haven't written up commentary yet.

    Just a correction to the above commenter- if I'm not mistaken, didn't John pick Amanda (and not Mike)?

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    Even though I'm impressed with the "heap o' candidates" we got going, like Kathleen, I too am backing Chris Smith. Portland needs big-picture thinkers who can lead the city into the new paradigm of a local & sustainable economy.

    I believe he has the vision, energy and intellect to implement the changes we need.

    I hope Jeff Bissonette runs for something else soon, though, because I am impressed.

  • Steve R. (unverified)

    I've already endorsed Amanda, and this interview reinforces my decision.

    Her nuts-and-bolts neighborhood policy focus would be a breath of fresh air compared to the current central city condo developer bias in city hall.

    Lewis stakes out positions in that regard, too, but it seems to come from a position of anger at his dealings with PDC, as opposed to Amanda's 17 years of grass-roots neighborhood organizing.

    Smith's answer to everything is "go by streetcar." Not helpful, and his unfailing support of the streecar puts him in the pockets of Portland's big condo developers at the expense of the neighborhoods. More of the same, in other words.

    It is interesting to me how the big developer interests have co-opted "sustainability" to the point that city transportation dollars are spent promoting development that almost exclusively benefits the wealthy, with enthusiastic support of "progressive" politicians.

    In the probably two-way race between Fritz and Smith this November, Fritz has the clear edge for those of us concerned not so much with "sustainable" condos, but with sustaining the quality of life and affordable housing in our existing neighborhoods.

  • (Show?)

    Although the field is deep, Charles Lewis clearly has the best combination of vision, experience, intelligence and work ethic of all the candidates in the race. His experience as Founder and Executive Director of Ethos proves not only that he can identify problems and find solutions, but that he is also capable of managing a large organization. This type of leadership as well as his sense of fiscal and social responsibility make Charles the type of person we need in City Hall. Charles will add diversity to the council with his fresh perspective and creative, community based approach. Although I appreciate the extensive volunteer record of both Fritz and Smith, it pales in comparison to what Charles has been able to do with Ethos. That's why I'm supporting Charles Lewis.

  • petrichor (unverified)

    i finally finished watching the video which has contributed about 90% of my knowledge of each candidate (i am slightly familiar with fritz, and smith from their blogs, and lewis from his earned media, and branam from his overpayment scandal).

    my impressions: 1) everyone is very impressive 2) smith and branam have the most complete vision, though smith is more focused strictly on the sustainability issue, and branam runs the risk of being too general (especially on education). 3) fritz and lewis seem more issue based with a hardline focus on, well, i don't know how better to put it, "sidewalks and potholes". i don't think they are lacking vision either, but they are very seriously focused. 4) lewis seems to be most prone to attack. comes off as the jack bog of the candidates. 5) fahey and bissonette did not leave much of an impression, which i think partially has to do with how much time they were given, and partially to do with what they chose to speak about (bissonette went on a long time on his history). bissonette has a similar sustainability vision as smith, but i think, perhaps, not as comprehensive, or at least not as in command of the details. fahey is against voe.

    right now i might vote for either branam, bissonette or smith, in alphabetical order.

  • Brienne (unverified)

    I supported Amanda Fritz two years ago and I'm ready to do it again. Since then I've also had the opportunity to meet her on a few different occasions and I am continually impressed with her respectful demeanor, understanding of the issues facing Portland, intellect and vision to fix things, and the way she includes and listens to all Portlanders.

    The only introduction I've had to the other candidates are in the video with WW, but the video only confirmed my decision to support Fritz. She had hard evidence of some issues (like the problem with the Parks meetings) and she already is working to solving those issues. Very cool in my book.

    I completely agreed with Charles Lewis on the New Markets Tax Credits (I did a ton of legal research for a law prof on these a couple years back). The Armory was a shameful example of NMTC use. Millions of federal dollars that was supposed to go to low income areas didn't ever get there. I like Charles as a second to Amanda just because of the way he seemed to understand the problem with NMTC, and Portland's affordable housing.

    I'm just over halfway through the video...

  • Brienne (unverified)

    Ack, Charles is out of my book now because of his stance on day labor/illegal work. Amanda all the way for me.

  • Ron Paul (unverified)

    Chris Smith offers a clear alternative, one rooted not only in Portland's progressive transportation efforts but also connected to the global issues facing our society. We need to move beyond the green veneer that has shaped Portland's reputation to become more sustainable in our core principles of governance. Chris understands this and I have every reason to believe that he will act consistently based on those principles. This embraces his approach to economic development, land use, public works and education in addition to transportation.

  • (Show?)

    Before anybody goes nuts, please note that the above comment by Ron Paul is actually by... Ron Paul.

    No, not the right-wing Texas congressman and presidential candidate.

    Rather, Portland's own Ron Paul - former chief of staff to Commissioner Charlie Hales and proprietor of Ron Paul Charcuterie.

  • Hawthorne (unverified)

    "No, not the right-wing Texas congressman and presidential candidate."

    LOL. Once the Google alerts kick in this thread is doomed ;)

  • Judy h (unverified)

    Did branam make a wrong turn somewhere and accidently wind up in this race? The clown has no business competing with the other 5. Zusman destroyed him

  • Taylor M (unverified)

    Thanks for posting this video- with the focus on Sam & Sho, Barack and Hill, Kate & Vicki etc- it's crazy to think how seriously many people take the current city council's officeholders, and yet how little exposure this race is getting. Thanks for keeping us in the loop.

  • David M. (unverified)

    I will be studying all the candidates very carefully before voting. I think it is utterly crucial that Portlanders restore fiscal discipline to city hall; what is needed vs. pet projects/toys.

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    Don't you think we have enough big visions on the Council already? Don't we need people who are actually going to get down to the nitty gritty and implement policies (or evaluate them to see if they are workable)?

    Someone said above that Amanda seems very sidewalks and pothole oriented, and my response is "thank god!"

    I think that's precisely what's lacking currently. We have big visions out the wazzoo. But visions are not helpful if we erode our tax base, continue to lose working class jobs, fail to build a business and industrial base.

  • Miles (unverified)

    I'm not terribly impressed with this group of candidates. All of them have good qualities, but we're talking about one of the best paid elected positions in Oregon (more than the Governor, AG, and SOS for example), and one that directly impacts the lives of 600,000 Portlanders on a daily basis. I guess I would expect more experience on the ballot rather than this group of political novices (with the exception of Rep. Fahey). I'm all for new blood, but I think any of these six is going to spend their first two years buffeted by the politics and substance of the job.

    I think Amanda is the clear favorite to advance to the general election. Of the others, I would put my money on Charles Lewis. I would have said Branam, but he made some poor strategic decisions. I don't think Chris Smith is going to appeal to many voters outside of the streetcar/transportation clique.

  • Paul van Orden (unverified)


    I am excited that the Portland Business Alliance and other folks set derailing the VOE system have not had success to date.

    We have a wonderful collection of candidates in the pack. A nice testimony to the efforts of retiring commissioner Sten. Clearly all the candidates have their own niche that they fit. Amanda=Planning/ citizen activism and involvement. Jeff= OLCV/ Envrio concerns. Smith=lightrail/ transportation.
    And JOHN BRANAM =Green Empowerment/ Local Jobs creation/ and a real education system for our youth.

    After 16 years working in the government in a variety of jobs I can see how each one has their strengths and weaknesses. I believe the best fit currently for the city's needs is John Branam.

    I am not sure we can go wrong with a few of the other folks who have a long history of fighting corruption and "Goldschmidt" styled good old boy Portland politics. I am very excited about this race and the chances of possibly also having Jim Middaugh on Council.

    Paul van Orden

  • Paul van Orden (unverified)


    Folks may find it interesting that the Willy Week closed voting on Wednesday night for the Candidates Gone Wild event only to reopen the voting. I discovered this late last night. I made calls to get support for my three choices , but oddly the results were different this time. I am please to see Amanda and Jeff in the fray, but I'm sad that Mr. Branam was in yesterday but not today.

    I have to assume that everyone at the WWEEK is just having fun with the event and will ultimately give all the candidates a chance to be in the debate. Otherwise it seems a little fishy and out of character of the overall Voter Owned elections system designed to open up elections to a broader body of the general public.

    Fortunately, the people I know in the race are all great people and I'm sure will not get too upset at the surprise Diebold style move.

    Paul van Orden

  • Confused (unverified)

    Paul- Can you explain this to me. You want to get rid of "Goldschmidt" style, good old boy politics in Portland yet you support a candidate who has become the poster child for corruption, unethical behavior and poor decision making. Furthermore, can you explain how John Branam offers any plans for green empowerment, local job creation and a real education system for our youth.

    He incoherently rambled about some sort of nonsense "green jobs corps" and it seems as though Bissonnette (OLCV, Bike Walk Vote) and Smith (Bike Walk Vote) have a lock on the enviro vote. Lewis (Stand For Children, Cynthia Guyer) and Fritz (PAT) seem to have the children/education community in their corner. As far as I can tell Branam has no business background or experience while Lewis owns a small business.

    Your reasons for supporting Branam don't seem to check out.

    What gives?

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