City Council Election Proves Contentious

The front of Portland City Hall. The building is home to Portland’s local government, including the City Council. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

On May 15, all votes were cast for Portland’s next city commissioner for Position 3, the area in which many Franklin students reside. The election resulted in a run-off between Hardesty and Smith, the result of which will be decided in November. Despite the fact that the race is over, the candidates involved and the platforms they ran on can still provide important information about the issues currently at hand in the city of Portland.

Jo Ann Hardesty: Hardesty has experience. She was a Policy Advisor for eight years, State Representative for Oregon for five years, and has been a part of if not a key player in over ten groups involved in creating positive change, ranging in focus from Japanese Immersion Education to the Environment. She grew up in Baltimore and joined the Navy straight out of high school, then moved to Oregon and began her activism through the Black United Fund. Hardesty is fighting for improvements on housing, environmental policies, the way our police force is run, and the access citizens have to have be represented in their government. Hardesty is endorsed by The Oregonian, The Portland Association of Teachers, and Portland’s Resistance.

Felicia Williams: Williams was in the Air Force for five years where she held a management position, allowing her to learn how to deal with unexpected situations firsthand. After returning and moving to Portland, Williams worked as a firefighter and medic through college. Now she is an activist and civil rights historian. She has taught courses at local universities about the PDX Civil Rights Project, during which the students learned about important Oregon activists. Williams wanted to change our homelessness and housing policies, improve earthquake preparation, and secure public safety.

Andrea Valderrama: Valderrama takes pride in all the work she has already accomplished in her time at the Commissioner’s and Mayor’s offices and on the David Douglas School Board. Her parents emigrated to America from Peru, and her mother was a victim of domestic violence. She grew up in a single parent household and worked while in school in order to support her family and put herself through college. Valderrama is looking for change in Portland housing, homelessness, public safety, education, transportation and clean energy.

Loretta Smith: Smith has already served two terms as commissioner, and has accomplished a lot within that position, like creating the Summer Works Program: a program for youth to learn life skills and maybe get employed. Smith has two decades of experience working in the federal government. According to Willamette Week writer Rachel Monahan, Smith has both raised and spent more on her campaign than any other candidate, claiming “She raised just over $318,000 in cash over the last two years, nearly $150,000 more than her closest competitor.” Smith’s priorities would be looking out for the younger generation, addressing housing issues, improving transportation systems, and providing stability for all Portlanders.

Stuart Emmons: Emmons received an architecture degree from Harvard University and now has a firm in Portland. He has 30 years of experience designing homeless and affordable housing. Most of his policies are housing-based, as that is his area of expertise (the housing economy, affordable housing, homelessness, etc.), but he also wants to tackle issues such as unemployment and education.

Out of the six candidates, two thirds are women and one half are people of color. This diversity gives the people a better chance to find whose priorities and experiences represent their own.

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