Friday, April 20, 2012

Jefferson Smith for Mayor

Well, Portland, it's time once again to choose a new mayor.  Sam Adams, tainted by scandal almost as soon as he took office, is coming to the end of his term.  A quick gander through the Voter's Pamphlet reveals that there is a host of ambitious personalities vying to take Sam's place as chief executive of our fair city.

And while it is entertaining to read the various candidates' statements in the pamphlet (after all, anybody can publish a statement by paying a fee), there are only three viable candidates in this year's race.  ("Viable,"of course, is synonymous with "adequately-funded."  In the end, it's still a money game, I'm afraid.)

Those three?  Charlie Hales, Eileen Brady, and Jefferson Smith.

Charlie Hales has served as a City Commissioner and has experience working in City Hall. He's got a good reputation as an effective administrator and I suppose he is probably the odds-on favorite to win.  I considered voting for him for a good long while, but in the end, decided against it.  Charlie is in tight with former mayor Vera Katz and the Portland "old guard." I'd prefer to see some new blood in city government.

Eileen Brady bills herself as a co-founder of the News Seasons grocery chain, which is sure to put her in the good graces of a lot of folks in my neighborhood.  News Seasons opened a store on Hawthorne in the last several years and it does a brisk business with urban shoppers.  But I'm not one of those who believes that success as a business leader qualifies a person as a good government administrator.  (That's how the GOP sold us Junior!  Remember?)  Her candidacy seems light on proposals.  And ambition without direction rarely leads to anything good.  (Again, think of Junior --or Macbeth!)

I met Jefferson Smith at the 2008 Democratic Convention for Oregon's 3rd Congressional District.  Truthfully, I didn't much like him.  He was smooth, alright.  Too smooth.  He came across as insincere.  Nonetheless, I know he's a hard worker (ambitious men always are) and, as Neighbor Mac pointed out, Jefferson had success with his Oregon Bus Project.  That's democracy at the grass-roots level.  His statement in the Voter's Pamphlet hits all the right notes:  "grow local businesses," "balanced transportation options," "stand up to powerful interests," etcetera.  He's endorsed by my party, the Working Families party, and by Neighbor Mac, and I bear witness that Jefferson supported the Occupy Movement.  I saw him at the demonstration.  And while Portland's airwaves are saturated with ads from Hales and Brady, I have yet to see an ad from Jefferson.  I always prefer a campaign that relies on the ground game over a campaign that bombards voters with paid advertising.

So, Jefferson Smith gets my vote this year.  But, you know, this being Portland, any of the candidates will probably do a good job.  We don't elect right-wing freaks in the Rose City.

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