EVALUATING ALTERNATIVE PORTLAND CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES
Local corporate media has spent a good deal of time covering some Oregon election campaigns and candidates, while minimizing or censoring some candidates and races. For Portland City Council, Jason Barbour is challenging Nick Fish, and there are many alternate candidates challenging Dan Saltzman. Of the alternate candidates, who are the best choices?
PSU Progressive Student Union, Tenant Rights Project and Transit Riders Union has been working for several months to attempt to highlight local Portland City Council races in the upcoming May 2010 election. However, there has been virtually zero coverage by corporate media on the Nick Fish race. We did, finally, after five months and four of us meeting with Street Roots president Israel Bayer, manage to get an article on the Nick Fish race in that paper -- but with the headline censored to delete/minimize the alternate candidate, Jason Barbour.
There have been lots of articles about Dan Saltzman as police commissioner and coverage of some of the alternate candidates, but not that much-- in some ways.
FISH V. BARBOUR
On the Nick Fish race, Fish is an incumbent who has gotten at least one donation from Portland polluter, Tribune publisher, and Christian philanthropist, Bob Pamplin -- but when we sent in an op-ed to the Tribune about Jason Barbour's challenging Nick Fish, the Tribune refused to print it. Steve Clark, Tribune editor, also doubles as Kulongoski's housing committee chairperson. Some activists have noted that Fish, Pamplin, Clark may be part of an informal alliance which seeks to get more funding for low-income housing, but that such millions of dollars then seems to go to real estate companies and is not necessarily focused on getting housing for the houseless, per se.
Jason Barbour is one of three people who have filed against Nick Fish, but none have much funding and none went for voter owned elections. Hence, corporate media says none of these three folks are serious, and none can possibly get elected. Corporate media tends to forget the voters get to vote in democracies -- the editors of the local PDX papers are not the only people who get to vote in elections.
Jason in 2009 was Transit Riders Union best organizer, and Jason's been to a Tenant Rights Project meeting, as well. Nick Fish, on the other hand, has refused 5x and counting, to ever meet with in person or negotiate with TRP organizers over our 2 year anti-slumlord campaign against Central City Concern, a primary 'partner' with City of Portland re clean and sober, getting visible crime and homeless folks off the downtown streets, etc. Fish in Nov. 2008 talked at a fundraiser for CCC, and urged people to "dig deep" in donating to CCC.
Fish did vote with the rest of council, unanimously, to rename 39th Ave. as Cesar Chavez Blvd. At times, Fish has voted with Amanda Fritz, in the minority against Adams, Saltzman and Leonard. Fish says he used to be a civil rights lawyer and an organizer, without specifics.
Jason and I interviewed Jim Middaugh, Fish's voter-owned challenger in the last election, but Middaugh (who now works as Communications Mgr for Metro) said that even though Middaugh, Erik Sten's former chief of staff, had $150,000 in voter owned election money, Middaugh only got 22% of the vote. That was the third time Fish ran, and finally won, getting onto city council. Jasun Wurster, once Amanda Fritz's campaign mgr., says Fish is focused on succeeding Sam Adams as mayor.
Brandon Phillips, the pacifist sit-lie organizer at Sisters of the Road, says that Fish is "amazing" even though Brandon knows that Jason Barbour is an activist running against Fish. Brandon was quoted in WWeek in an interview by that paper about sit lie, and sang Fish's praises -- although some Fish comments by Brandon were edited out with an ellipse ...
Many activists believe Jason Barbour is a far better choice than Nick Fish for city council. Corporate media haven't covered this race at all. At the Mult. Co. Democrats debate set for April 28, two of the four people who have filed for the Fish seat on city council are set to appear -- apparently Fish and Jason Barbour.
SALTZMAN V. BURNETT, VOLM, RINAUD, SOTO, PEREZ AND THREE OTHERS.
The police shootings have been the big issue in recent months in Portland. Dan Saltzman has been largely silent on the whole issue, despite being police commissioner. The city council voted unanimously last week to beef up the police oversight process, but even the Oregonian in a long editorial noted this was mostly a PR tactic, per se.
Many activists believe Saltzman should be defeated in the May 2010 election, and in the meantime, that the police bureau should be reassigned from Saltzman to the mayor's office. Sam Adams says he is not going to do that. Many activists also believe the PPB chief Rosie Sizer, and PPB officers Ron Frashour and Chris Humphries, should be fired. No one seems to be pushing these measures. Instead, Albina Ministerial Alliance is pushing having a state law in Salem also alter and fix the police review process. That is a good step, but what else can be done?
In terms of alternative candidates, a partial rundown is:
--Jesse Burnett, ex-Bus Project, ex-PSU staffer, Burnett is the only alternate candidate with voter owned $$$, but Burnett also
lobbied in a previous election against campaign finance reform.
--Mary Volm, former city of Portland worker, longtime transit voice, would be the 8th woman in the history of Portland city
council if elected (Amanda Fritz, after 150 years of city council, is the 7th woman on the council, so far). Many
activists support Mary for the Saltzman seat (as does this writer).
--Jason Rinaud, a Portland Mental Health Assoc. organizer and filmmaker, has been listed as having dropped out by the Oregonian
after Burnett, and not Rinaud, got voter owned money. However, other sources say that Rinaud is still in the race.
On the third hand, Rinaud just wrote an op-ed for the online section of the Oregonian trashing last week's black bloc
anti-police rally and protest -- Rinaud says that 'for every bruise and for every broken windown, black bloc should be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law.' Rinaud also wants, of course, police reform and better mental health
services in PDX, both of which are very much needed.
--Rudy Soto, Martha Perez, and three others. Like the two other 'alternate' candidates for the Fish seat, there are three
other alternate candidates (who have filed but not necessarily campaigned) for the Saltzman seat, as well.
In terms of local activist Martha Perez, and former right-wing PSU student body president Rudy Soto, here are some comments.
Martha is an IndyMedia poster and liked by some activists. Corporate media call Martha a perennial candidate.
Martha has, however, many times, explained her particular theory that Sam Adams is 'a straight man pretending to be
gay for political benefit' in the largely/large gay community of Portland. This, on the face, would seem to be, at
best, an idiosyncratic view, and doesn't really address organizing issues. Martha does say, however, that she is
for single payer.
In terms of Rudy Soto, Rudy has gotten lots of corporate media and conservative campus media coverage because he's Chicano, used to be student body president, and used to be in a gang but now is into student government and politics. Rudy is an intern for Nick Fish, very much a negative in the evaluation of some activists with Tenant Rights Project (see above). Also, Rudy, at PSU, was famous for occupying his office in student govt and playing video games, along with being the stalking horse for notorius right wing campus politician Ryan Klute, and together Rudy and Ryan kept trying to either de-couple PSU from OSA (Oregon Student Association, which lobbies in Salem for more money for higher education), or, in the alternative, have PSU have the vast majority of the votes on the OSA board (since PSU is the biggest school).
In the May election, corporate media says Fish will easily defeat his non-funded three opponents, and that may be the case, per se. For Saltzman's seat, local media pundits insist Saltzman has tons of money and will easily defeat Jesse Burnett, the one alternate candidate with voter-owned money (the Oregonian continues to oppose the whole idea of voter-owned elections, and it comes up for a vote to renew the system, shortly). Jason Rinaud and Mary Volm appear to be the most visible of the alternate candidates to Saltzman, although (as noted) the Oregonian reported that Rinaud dropped out of the race after failing to get 1,000 signatures to do voter-owned money. Many activists, as noted, support Mary Volm as the best possible alternate choice to Saltzman. Because Rudy Soto has gotten a good deal of campus and corporate media coverage, Rudy might even come in 2nd or 3rd, overall.
If Saltzman fails to get 50% of the vote, that may mean he and his closest challenger (Burnett, according to corporate media) will have a runoff in the November election.
address: PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240
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