Sex and the City

Karol Collymore

Portland has had only six women as city commissioners in its 157 years of being a city. If that sounds less than progressive than our status claims, you are right. I was given this fun fact from current commission candidate, Amanda Fritz. I sought out Amanda partly out of curiosity, partly out of wanting to support the woman in the race.

My previous experience with Amanda is gossip-based only. Her reputation as a bit antagonist, a rabble rouser and stubborn is well-known in some circles. I've shared my desire to vote for her with other people "in the know" and have seen jaws fall open across town. One friend even said, "Don't do it." But with all things being equal in this race, I want to support the woman. I am motivated by the belief that representative government should reflect the population. Last time I checked, women lived in Portland. So I emailed her and she accepted my offer for a chat.

I told Amanda almost right away that I was compelled to talk to her because she's the only woman in this male-dominated election. She acknowledged the importance in that but wanted the focus to be about why she's the best person, not the best woman. Fair enough. Amanda shared some of what she'd tackle if she were elected and I'll share some here. She thinks the public, especially candidates, need a full education on public financing can be used. As some other candidates know well, there is no manual on how to run a campaign and how much to pay staff...ahem. Amanda would also like to pay stringent attention to the budget to make sure money is being spent responsibly and things we all want - sidewalks, less potholes, stop signs - are being covered before the City tackles less necessary projects. She'd also like to resurrect the bureau advisory committees; filled with regular citizens who act as our watchdogs.

Amanda had some great ideas about schools and doesn’t have a preference for what bureau she’d like to oversee. “Whatever the four guys don’t want,” she said, since they will have been working together for months before her potential arrival. And what about Amanda’s pesky reputation? She calls herself an advocate for her city. She also argues that no one can get anything done by being negative and antagonistic and she believes that if elected, she’ll work collaboratively with the other commissioners.

But let’s face it, Amanda is the only woman in the race for ANY of City Hall’s elected positions, even if she doesn’t want that spotlighted. Amanda’s most memorable moment from her last race? The time an Oregonian reporter called her “shrill.” I’m going to guess that many men don’t have that adjective used very often for them. In an election year where we’ve been walking the line between sexism and racism constantly, shouldn’t her gender be part of the discussion in our fair city?

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  • Anitra Kitts (unverified)

    Amanda volunteered very early on my first campaign. She was always great to work with. I learned a great deal about land use and very ground specific environmental issues in my district because she made sure it was brought to my attention. She was graceful and patient with me. She was also very dependable, knowledgeable and truthful. I found her to be a effective advocate for both education and the protection of streams in Southwest Portland. I think she'd be great on the Portland City Council.

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    I think the dearth of women candidates means that someone smart and connected should run, like, maybe, Karol Collymore?

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    Oh Kristin, thank you. But my skin is far, far to thin for that.

  • James X. (unverified)

    I was particularly sad that Cyreena Boston didn't make it to the general. I've heard vague talk that Fritz is less than a team player, but never any specifics. Can anyone share?

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    Cyreena, of course, ran for the Lege - not City Council. Hopefully she'll be back to run again for something.

  • verasoie (unverified)

    While waiting (and working!) for the numbers to improve, we can and perhaps should acknowledge some other prominent women in Portland and Oregon politics, namely:

    Vera Katz (recent mayor), Barbara Roberts (somewhat recent Governor) and Darlene Hooley (current but retiring Congresswoman representing a sliver of SW Portland), along with numerous women having recently served on the Multnomah County commission (or currently serving): DIANE M. LINN, MARIA ROJO DE STEFFEY, SERENA CRUZ, LISA NAITO (

    Things aren't as good as they could and should be, but there is reason for encouragement.

  • ValkRaider (unverified)

    If you bring in gender - be prepared for it to be used against you.

    If gender can be a qualification, it can also be a disqualification.

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    Fritz is less than a team player, but never any specifics. Can anyone share?

    From my experience, Amanda speaks her mind, and tries to represent what she perceives to be the public interest. If "team player" means compromising to be part of an insider gang...well, no probably, not.

    But smart, honest, and sometimes contentious? I can think of worse things for a Council member to be.

    I've clashed with Amanda, and yet, over the years, consider her a good friend, and someone I can trust to be a straight shooter, and not a game player. I think she'd be awesome on Portland's City Council.

  • Kija (unverified)

    So, Amanda Fritz is called shrill and "not a team player." What then should Randy Leonard be called? This is not a criticism of him. I think electeds should be willing to fight and get abrasive if they think they are right and are not being listened to. However, no one calls him shrill. His assertiveness is seen as a positive trait - most of the time. Why is a similar willingness to fight a negative for a woman?

    And why oh why oh why is anytime someone talks about a woman running and supporting her because we need more women in government - why do we get comments that suggest, a woman yes, but always some other woman.

  • John (unverified)

    So Karol, I saw your post on racism. How would you address someone saying something sexist? It might be OK to defend yourself but saying something sexist or racist is never OK. I think it’s sad that so much seems to come from the presumed victim with the presumption its OK because of the source. What would you say if someone said they would vote for someone because of race? Just wondering

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