PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In 2016, Chloe Eudaly came from out of nowhere to oust incumbent City Council member Steve Novick. Now, she has 7 challengers who want to oust her in Tuesday’s primary.
Mapps once worked in Eudaly’s bureau. Wilson is the president of a Portland-based freight company. And Adams was at one time Portland’s mayor.
Each of them said they have plans to address the homeless crisis and help Portland recover from the pandemic — which has changed everything in the city, including how to run for election.
Read their detailed answers on the Portland homeless crisis at the bottom of this article.
KOIN 6 News spoke with these 4 candidates via Zoom to get their takes on the upcoming primary.
During her time in office, Chloe Eudaly strengthened protections for renters but got a lot of push back for trying to change the city code surrounding neighborhood associations.
“I think Portlanders should vote for me because I’m the most progressive candidate running,” Eudaly said. “I’m the only renters’ advocate running at a time renters are more at risk and in crisis than ever and because I’ve stayed true to my word and really delivered on all of the issues that I ran on.”
She noted neighborhood associations provide important benefits all over Portland. “My intent with the code change was to expand the types of groups that the city officially recognizes for the purpose of civic engagement,” she told KOIN 6 News.
At one point, Mingus Mapps helped manage the city’s neighborhood association system. He was fired from the Portland Office of Community and Civic Life in 2019, but maintains he was fired over not disciplining an employee for body language during a staff meeting.
“You know, my management style is really incompatible with the dominant culture over at Civic Life,” he said this week. “You know, I don’t blame anyone over there, including Commissioner Eudaly for my departure. I’m an evidence-based constructive decision- maker. I will listen to everybody. I’m driven not by ideology, but by, you know, evidence. That’s not what we see right now.”
Mapps said he understands both the problems and the frustrations with the current city government. “I’m here to fix that.”
Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams said the city needs someone with experience during this crisis.
“I think Portland needs a comeback. It’s not about me,” Adams said. When he was mayor he publicly apologized for lying about a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old he met during his time at City Hall.
“I’m not the same person that I was and I’ve learned and grown as a person. That was really dumb, but you know, I’ve had the opportunity to grow and change.”
Adams said he’s running now because he’s got the experience to “help lead Portland through the Great Recession, from one of the worst placed cities to one of the strongest local recoveries. And we need that kind of experience on the City Council more than ever.”
Portland native Keith Wilson currently runs a freight company and said he’s ready to move from the private sector to public service. If elected, he said, he will sell his company.
“The reason why I’m running is primarily because I’m alarmed by the direction our city is going,” Wilson told KOIN 6 News.
Despite not having any experience in the public sector, Wilson said successfully running a company through 2 recessions gives him the experience needed to help Portland through the current pandemic crisis.
“Our city is poorly managed and it’s easy to see when we walk outside our door,” he said. “We drive down the street and we see this phycial indicators that we’re just not managing our city.”
If any of the 8 candidates gets one vote more than 50% of the primary votes, that candidate will win the City Council seat. If no one does, the top 2 votegetters will face off in November.
KOIN 6 News asked these 4 candidates this question:
How would you address Portland’s homeless crisis?
Chloe Eudaly: “Portland’s homeless crisis is not just a Portland problem, it’s a regional problem, it’s a state problem, it’s a national crisis, and so we need our leaders at every level of government to deeply invest in solving the homeless crisis, which is inextricably linked to housing affordability. Locally what we can do is vote yes on the ‘Here Together’ Homeless Funding Measure that’s on the ballot right now, which will provide millions of dollars across the region for homeless services and homelessness prevention.”
Sam Adams: “In 2015 the City Council passed a resolution declaring that houselessness and affordable housing was an emergency, but they haven’t been acting like that and I want to get on the City Council to really put a focus on this issue. For example, can you name for me the coordinator for the City of Portland on the issue of houselessness? It’s a trick question — there isn’t one. Do you know the day of the week that the bureaus responsible for dealing with not only the issues of those that are suffering from houselessness, but also the issues of those that are getting impacted by, let’s say, houselessness camps? Do you know what day of the week that is? They don’t meet. So it’s time the city starts acting like this is the crisis that it actually is in terms of houselessness and affordable housing.”
Mingus Mapps: “Prior to the COVID crisis I think homelessness was our most pressing issue. I think over the last 4 years the city has emphasized building shelters and shelter beds, and shelter beds play an important role in response to homelessness, but shelters don’t solve homelessness. They just move homelessness from one location to another. I really want to get people back inside and off the streets. And, frankly, one of the best ways there is to reduce homelessness is to make sure that Portlanders don’t lose their housing in the first place. That’s why I’m advocating for us to dramatically increase the amount of funding we provide for temporary rental assistance. You know, we can invest $600 to help a family who is going through a transition stay in their housing or we can spend $6,000 trying to shelter a family that has lost their home. It just makes far more sense both in economic and human terms to keep that family housed. But, then we also have this other problem: folks who sleep on the street every night. We have about 4,000 chronically homeless individuals in our city. These are the tents that we see in our sidewalks and in our parks. We know a lot about this community. About half of those folks suffer from disabilities or drug addiction or mental health issues or just frankly old age, issues that prevent them from lifting themselves up by their boot straps and you know, going and getting a mortgage and a job. So, I think we need to address the reality of the challenges that that community faces, I think we have to prioritize very affordable housing for that community and then work with our partners over in the county to connect the housing the city provides with social services that the county provides, so that we can both provide our chronically houseless community members with a key to a home and doctor’s appointment that will help them stay in that home.”
Keith Wilson: “Our city is not addressing it well and it’s really because they’re not working together with all of the parts and pieces or our social network working together. So, the root cause is that we have a City Council and a mayor that are trying to address this massive humanitarian crisis individually. We’ve removed our police services, we’ve removed our fire, our justice system and our homeless services agencies away from this and they’re managing it through a cleanup company. So, we’re really talking about two types of homeless. You have your sheltered homeless, which is our shelters and our transitional housing and they’re doing extremely well through our Transitions Projects Homeless Shelters, through our Joint Office of Homeless Services, they are down 21% as far as the overall men and women in those systems. But, when you look at our unsheltered rate, it’s increased 22% this last two years.”
“One of the concepts, it’s called pop-up shelters or temporary shelters. It’s taking existing structures and repurposing those at night, so you don’t have a high cost capital item. It’s very low cost and you repurpose this from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m., but then you bring in services and you provide a safe night’s sleep. But more importantly you’re creating access and trust. So, now it really is a two-pronged approach: You cannot camp, but we will provide safe sleep for you. So, if you aged out of foster care, you’re 18, you don’t go to the street, you can go to a safe night sleep and we can work on transitional services. If you are a victim of domestic violence you should not be in an encampment because women are abused the absolute most and is the most trauma to be sleeping outdoors. You don’t have to be that. If you’re addicted and you want to come in and it’s time to address that, we provide a safe night’s sleep. It’s not something where a chronically homeless person is going to come to and transition into housing, but it’s a place for that person to gain trust because we know that somebody who is chronically homeless is not going to go at 3 p.m. and wait in line at the shelter, they don’t do that, but in the same respects because they know they can’t camp we’re not sending our valuable and very underfunded navigation services up into Forest Park. That’s unsafe and it’s not efficient. But, if you want to come down and get a light meal and a safe night’s sleep and a shower, then go back out, but what we’re doing at that point is we’re building trust, we’re getting to know you by name and we’re building that access point.”
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