Afterthought with Phil Busse
Discussion w/ the 3rd place candidate reflecting on his mayoral campaign...
May 22, 2004
After thought with Phil Busse
Q: What is your reaction to the final percentages for the mayoral race?
Of course everyone always hopes for higher percentages, but I was thrilled that nearly 10,000 voted for me. We really had to overcome some hurdles to attract those voters, so I think that it is an important beginning.
Q: Does money=votes? If so, what [in your opinion] can be done to change that?
Clearly the outcome of this race showed that money doesn't equal votes. The two highest spenders in the race didn't even take 2 out of 5 votes. Between Potter, Posey and myself, we didn't spend more than $100,000, yet managed to pull in more than half of the votes combined.
Considering that one of Potter's most publicized parts of his platform was his $25 cap, I think that people voted for Potter because they saw him as representing limits on money in campaigns.
I think that my campaign, Potter's and Posey's relied on pounding the pavement. That is the direction we, as voters, need to continue to demand. That we want to meet our candidates, not see them on TV ads; that
we want specific information, not soundbites.
Q: Both the Mercury and the Willamette Week endorsed John Kerry in this election, and salvationinc thinks this was a sellout move. Do you think that an endorsement for Kucinich would have made a difference in his numbers?
Well, this is a question outside my range as a candidate. My campaign and my job at the Mercury are two separate considerations. That said, the Mercury has publicized Kucinich. Months before any other paper picked him up, we ran an unfiltered Q&A with him. I think that is more important than an endorsement because it allows people to make their own choices.
As far as the endorsement, I will explain it the best that I can. I am only one vote of our endorsement panel. My ballot may have reflected different votes than what the Mercury endorsed. Again, that said, I believe that the rationale for endorsing Kerry over Kucinich is that the panel believes that Kucinich is a principled advocate, but that what the presidency needs is someone who balances interest. We're a very divided nation right now. The country needs someone (like a Clinton moderate) to bring back together the different factions. Kucinich, while the panel may agree with his principles, does not think that having a president who so adamantly advocates for one side of the equation is the best candidate.
Did it hurt Kucinich? I doubt it. His backers are not that easily swayed.
Q: As far as numbers go, Busse for mayor was an even bigger underdog than Kucinich. What do you think about the idea of progressive underdogs WORKING TOGETHER to make a difference and promote change?
I think that any and all coalitions to push forward progressive agendas are important - whether as a candidate or elected official. When Kucinich spoke at PCC the day before the election, some students there lobbied his campaign to have me introduce him. They refused. We were told that, "Kucinich speaks alone." We tried several other times to reach out to Kucinich organizers and were rebuffed. But we had a lot of luck at Kucinich events handing out our information and found his backers to be incredibly receptive to looking at new candidates and new ideas.
Q: Was running for mayor a positive experience? Would you do it again, and if so, what would you change?
Every one should run for public office at least once in their lives. It was a great experience. I started because I was frustrated with local government; I finished optimistic about the opportunities for changes.
The best thing that I did during my campaign was to sit down and put together a comprehensive platform. (I can't believe that this is not S.O.P.) It gave me a chance to take stock about where the city is, where it has been and, most important, where it could go. If I were to run again, I would do this much earlier.
We also reached out to a lot of groups that are normally overlooked by politicans - musicians, strippers, dog-owners, motorcycle riders, etc. - and tried to define how city hall could play a bigger, better role in their lives. I think that we overlooked important groups, however - namely, the Vietnamese, Russian, Somolian communities in town. As the "outsider" candidate, I should have been spending more time and energy trying to work with "outsider" groups. Not for the votes necessarily, but to help those groups understand that they can and should be part of the process.
Q: Obviously the result of the election was not heartening to us. Seemingly people either voted for the status quo, or went with the Willamette Week's endorsements. How can we fight voter apathy and corporate misinformation? How can we fire people up and make them think it is even worth it to vote?
The most important and constructive way to get people to vote is to translate how city politics matters to them. Affordable housing, for example, may cause the indie rockers' eyes to glaze over. But tell him that supporting affordable housing is the way that he is allowed to stay in Portland and not take a job at Office Depot to pay his bills. His eyes will light up. Talk with a stripper who has no interest in politics and tell her that the leading candidates both support zoning regulations and curtailing free speech allowances - namely, what allows her to do her job - and she'll perk up. Tell skateboarders that the only thing standing
between them and more skateparks in town are the currently elected officials, and they will be interested. It is about translating city politics into daily life.
Yes, it is an uphill battle. But it is one that can be won in Portland. A year or so ago, I had the choice to stick my head in the sand and pretend like the city was not a mess; or, I had the chance to try to do something. Inspiring 10,000 people that change can happen is worth it. And, it is only Act One!
Q: Now that it is down to two, who do you endorse for Mayor? Why?
I'm not ready to say just yet. I have specific issues that I want each candidate to carry forward. IF I give an endorsement it will not simply be so that my name can be attached to literature. I want quid pro quo. I want public promises for certain issues.
~On a lighter note, we think that you were right on with reaching out to small groups of people the way you did. Everyone I told about our Pie Party thought it was a fabulous idea, we know some folks who voted for you because of it. We thank you for your efforts, ideas and drive. Keep it up please, we need more people like you in politics!
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