Candidates for City of Portland Mayor
A questionnaire was sent to candidates in the Portland-metro region, and below are the responses in regard to issues that are important to the Alliance and the business community.
|1. The Allianceís primary focus for the 2016 election cycle will be to support those candidates and ballot measure proponents who clearly and publicly join us in opposing IP 28, the gross receipts tax measure, which will be so detrimental to Oregonís economy. What is your position on IP28?|
|Jules Bailey||Iím supporting IP28. As an economist and father of a young child Iíve wrestled with this proposal for some time. I have even expressed reservations in the past. But I have come to the conclusion that we must act to improve our schools. Oregon has waited too long for real revenue that provides every child the high quality education they need to grow, thrive, and find a good-paying job. For decades, we have been failing our schools. When I graduated high school the worst effects of Ballot Measures 5 and 50 were coming into effect. We lost 17 teachers in one year. I felt like I was escaping a burning building, and in my opinion, itís been left to smolder ever since. After two decades of inaction, the time has come to fix the problem. I will support any proposal that has a real chance to provide desperately needed funding to give future generations, including my own child, an opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Itís time to act.|
|Ted Wheeler*||I look at how our state government has functioned over the last 20 years and it is clear to me we need additional revenues to provide the schools, social services, and criminal justice system our people deserve. I have a long track record of working to create those revenues, using smarter fiscal policies to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars and also for pushing tough conversations about spending Ė like my bipartisan work to help keep the cost of PERS manageable. I am also very concerned that a divisive, costly ballot fight will come at a great political cost to this state. I am hopeful that the work of Senator Mark Hass and others to find compromise will still achieve the needed revenues without an initiative campaign, and Iíll do what I can to move that conversation forward.|
|2. The Value of Jobs Coalition's 2015 Middle-Income Jobs Report found that Portland-metro, like most of the nation, has seen low- and high-income jobs account for increasingly larger shares of the regionís overall employment base, while middle-income jobs, as a share of the regionís total employment, have dropped from 69 percent in 1980 to 57 percent in 2013. What would you do to increase the number of middle-income jobs in our region?|
|Jules Bailey||Portland isnít working for too many families. Middle-wage jobs have always been the backbone of our economy, yet rising income inequality is squeezing these jobs out. Middle-wage jobs come from investment in infrastructure, and growth in our local small businesses. Thatís why in the legislature, I helped pass the jobs and transportation act, and partnered with Mayor Adams to create Clean Energy Works Oregon (now Enhabit). As County Commissioner, I created a program to help upgrade buildings for earthquake safety and energy efficiency. My jobs plan as Mayor will create an economy that works for everyone in Portland. Itís designed to get Portland's job growth back on track, with better coordination, small business assistance, infrastructure investment, and focus on our creative talent and competitive advantage. Combined with a world-class education system from pre-K through college, Portland can harness the talent we have locally, improve partnerships between local businesses and the City and grow middle wage jobs that help our economy thrive.|
|Ted Wheeler*||I want to thank the work of the Coalition and others highlighting that economic inequality in our community goes beyond helping the most economically impoverished. The loss of middle-wage jobs and the hollowing out of the middle class is a direct threat to Portlandís character and vitality. That is why I have proposed my 25 by 25 Jobs Strategy to support the creation of at least 25,000 jobs that pay at least $25 an hour by 2025. The approach builds upon recommendations made by the Coalition and others to increase both middle-wage job opportunities and workforce training so that Portlanders can fill good jobs currently sitting empty due to lack of skilled workers. I encourage you to read the proposal, which also includes strategies to grow particular higher wage sectors including technology, exported products, health care, and construction.|
|3. The same Middle Income Jobs Report found that Portlandís housing prices are becoming increasingly out of reach not only for low-income households, but also for middle-income households. What would you do to address housing affordability for middle-income residents in our region?|
|Jules Bailey||It doesnít take an economist to tell you that housing prices, and rents, are skyrocketing. My wife and I were recently priced out of the neighborhood I grew up in after getting out bid on ten homes by offers tens of thousands of dollars over asking price. With a million new people moving here, itís going to get harder to find a home. Rather than new large luxury homes going up on our neighborhood streets, Iíll support incentives for developers to build housing for working families. Owning your own home has always been the base of middle-class wealth and the foundation for the American Dream. To get there, Iíll push to reduce the cost of development and construction of new housing that is affordable to the middle class, increase supply to meet demand, and work to raise incomes so people can afford the housing they have. My plan incorporates the construction of more housing, including affordable housing developments, more market rate rentals, and owner-occupied homes and will incentive the construction of more duplexes and garden apartments on our neighborhood streets.|
|Ted Wheeler*||Affordable housing and the increasingly related problem of homelessness as people are priced out has been a central plank of my campaign from Day 1. We need to both provide better transitional housing for those living on the streets and housing assistance for those at-risk of falling into homelessness. At the same time, we need to be very attentive to the rapidly growing problem of workforce housing. I will not accept a Portland where teachers, firefighters, tradespeople, and other critical members of our community canít afford to live. We know the center of this problem is the large increase in people moving to Portland, leading demand to outpace supply and a rapid rise in rents and home values. That means the city must accelerate the creation of more affordable housing units, both through the private market and with innovative solutions like a city land trust, and by expanding market tools. As for an overarching plan, I see a simple set of (very big) solutions that make up a four-legged stool for regional housing stability:
|4. The Alliance recently launched a campaign to advocate for more humane solutions for the hundreds of people experiencing homelessness, including indoor shelters, services for those who need them and enforcement against illegal behaviors. What specific actions would you take to help address our homeless emergency and would you do something to address the proliferation of camping in our public spaces?|
|Jules Bailey||Homelessness is a crisis in Portland. But I donít just have plans; Iíve already begun working on the problem. The Home for Everyone initiative includes Multnomah County, the City of Portland, the City of Gresham, and Home Forward. I serve on the Executive Committee along with other elected leaders and members of the faith and business communities.
Our approach focuses on ďhousing firstĒ programs. Once housed, people are then connected to services for substance abuse, mental and physical health, education, and employment. The plan has begun working already. In December, Home For Everyone achieved our first-year goal of providing a home for every homeless veteran in Multnomah County. We have 600 new beds of emergency shelter coming on line. And by focusing on the most vulnerable populations and housing affordability, we can end this crisis.
But we have so much more to do. We met our 2015 Veterans goal, and now must build on that success for the broader homeless population. While the effects of homelessness are extremely difficult for all of those experiencing it, children, women fleeing domestic violence, and people with disabilities are especially vulnerable. Thatís why we opened a new year-round shelter for families, so no child ever has to wait for a school bus after getting up off the streets. In addition, communities of color experience homelessness in disproportionate numbers. We will use culturally specific services and consider racial equity program wide, with the goal of eliminating racial and ethnic disparity in housing.
The homeless issue isnít an isolated problem. Itís connected to the skyrocketing costs of rent, a minimum wage that doesnít meet the cost of living, and as Mayor, I will focus on those issues too. But first, we must focus on making sure everyone in our city has a place to live. I have pledged to cut the homeless population in half by the end of my first term, and the path laid out by A Home For Everyone gets us there. As we expand shelter and provide more housing, we will have more options and places for people living in tents.
|Ted Wheeler*||What specific actions would you take to help address our homeless emergency and would you do something to address the proliferation of camping in our public spaces?
The unfolding homelessness situation represents a humanitarian crisis, and I view it as a moral imperative that we make addressing it a top priority. We cannot call ourselves a progressive community while so many people are living - and dying - on our streets. This unfolding crisis is not only a nightmare for people impacted by homelessness, but it also directly impacts our community's livability, public health and safety, and our economy.
We need to acknowledge that there are many different reasons that people are homeless: economic issues, struggles with mental health and addiction issues, and prior criminal records are just a few factors that can make it difficult to secure stable housing. Many of the youth on our streets self-identity as LGBT, and others report abuse and neglect.
People at A Home for Everyone and the Welcome Home Coalition have told me that providers are now seeing more families, people of color, LGBT youth, and older adults living on our streets. Portland Public Schools reports that they're seeing more children whose families are couch surfing in their catchment neighborhoods because they've been priced out of their permanent housing.
The primary long-term goal of the A Home for Everyone Coalition - which I support - is to secure permanent, affordable housing for those with lower incomes. It is estimated that we need between 24 - 30 thousand more units of affordable housing (10%-80%MFI).
In the short-term, we need additional indoor alternatives to living in parks, on sidewalks, in doorways and under bridges. The City should experiment with modular and other innovative housing alternatives such as those being tried in Vancouver, BC and elsewhere. The City should consider asking architects how existing unused city facilities (some of which have as much as 16,000 square feet of space) can be converted quickly to housing that is safe and out of the elements. Faith Communities, empty-nesters, mom and pop landlords and businesses should be encouraged to offer space where able. By way of example, Jordan Menashe and his family recently offered 125 spaces in a downtown building, and I bet there are others who would also pitch in.
Zoning should be changed to allow for smaller, lower cost housing units, duplexes, garden apartments and other lower-cost alternatives. Multnomah County should continue their efforts with the State to fix penalties in the property tax system that discourage auxiliary dwelling units.
The City should make it easier to create more affordable housing units (at varying levels of affordability from very low income to median income) by streamlining the onerous, time consuming and costly design review and permitting processes. Other cities have streamlined processes with less subjectivity that are faster and less expensive for affordable housing. The City should scrutinize every cost added to the cost of housing.
While removing the ban on inclusionary zoning is currently under debate in the legislature with an uncertain outcome, the The City should continue to work with Commissioner Dan Saltzman on his innovative ideas for working with developers to incentivize the creation of more affordable housing units.
We need a long-term and reliable source of funding to support the development of affordable housing. The Obama Administration has set aside additional funding for services related to housing the homeless, and the City, County and the Home for Everyone Coalition should be supported in their efforts to secure more funding. Other cities have a permanent source of funding (either through linkage fees or voter-approved ballot measures), and Portland should seriously evaluate alternatives.
We must not lose sight of the economic issues - providing employment opportunities and connecting people with educational and job training opportunities should be part of any plan to help people stay in whatever housing they currently have.
We should strengthen opportunities for people to stay in their current housing by supporting the Renters Bill of Rights.
|5. The Alliance focuses on small business prosperity, which is significantly impacted by the cumulative impact of taxes, fees and regulations that have grown in recent years. How will you work to reduce the fees, taxes and regulatory burdens of small businesses? And, would you support increasing the Business License Tax (BLT) ownerís compensation deduction to $125,000?|
|Jules Bailey||As a small business owner myself, I can speak first hand, local small businesses are engines of our economy. Thatís why Iíve called for reorganizing small business services into the Bureau of Small Business and Economic Empowerment. Small businesses need a one-stop-shop to address their needs. With regards to the BLT, at Multnomah County I made good on my promise to match the County ownerís compensation deduction with the City of Portlandís. Before committing to any further changes, I would need to have a detailed assessment of the impact on the city budget and services.|
|Ted Wheeler*||I am particularly concerned about the high regulatory burdens on housing creation and businesses in general. Iíve heard countless stories during this campaign people have had a new business stalled by a cumbersome, and at times contradictory, review process by different City bureaus. We need to streamline and bring alignment to permitting. I am open to increasing the BLT ownerís compensation deduction. I understand it was recently increased and would want to understand better how this additional deduction will help our small businesses. Additionally, I reformed the business income tax to make sure local venture capital firms would not be forced out of the market.
I will also work to create an office of small business to cut down on red tape and streamline the process of starting a business by reforming, fees, permitting, and inspections.
|6. Years of disinvestment have resulted in a significant maintenance backlog of needed road repairs; the cost to address this grows exponentially over time as roads fall into further disrepair. What is your strategy for addressing this long-standing issue and do you support prioritizing existing city resources to prevent the system from decaying further?|
|Jules Bailey||Itís past time for us to make real investments to fix our decaying streets and infrastructure, to increase traffic safety, and to reduce traffic congestion. This has been put off far too long and the longer we wait the more it will cost. We have 50 miles of unpaved road in our City and a tremendous need for safe sidewalks in neighborhoods like mine that have few, if any. We also have additional transportation challenges such as safety improvements, public transit funding, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
The proposed gas tax increase, which I support, doesnít go far enough to address the transportation challenges we have. We need additional strategies, like reforming our transportation funding system. Local road maintenance issues would be a lot less complicated if the state didnít automatically take half of all local transportation revenue. We need an overhaul of the system to leave more control with Portland and other large local governments, while the Oregon Department of Transportation focuses on rural needs. We also need to pursue solutions like the pilot programs Metro and ODOT have engaged in on congestion pricing, and pay-per-mile road fees instead of the gas tax.
The Mayor canít make all these changes alone, but as Mayor, I will use my good relationship with the legislature and our congressional delegation to make sure that Portland is prioritized in state and federal funding discussions.
|Ted Wheeler*||I have been an outspoken proponent for addressing the backlog of maintenance and safety improvements to our city streets since Day 1 of this campaign. The problem has been left unaddressed for too long, and we need to pursue the needed revenue to start reversing the problem. I support the proposed gas tax. City Hall must also repair trust with residents after years of alternating between various unpopular solutions, while consistently opposing a public vote on any of them.
I am committed to bringing greater transparency to our transportation spending at the city level so that people know their tax dollars are being spent wisely. We need to recognize the impact taxes have on working families, especially a consumption tax like a gas tax. It is critical we show that money is being spent scrupulously.
|7. The 2015 Economic Impacts of Congestion report shows that the Portland-region and the state of Oregonís competitiveness is largely dependent on efficient transportation. Failure to adequately invest in the system could cost the Portland-metro region $822 million annually by 2040 and close to 6,000 jobs. Do you support investments in the transportation system to support freight movement and remove bottlenecks to the efficient movement of goods and people?|
|Jules Bailey||While I have been criticized in this race for voting for the Columbia River Crossing, I think my consistency on that project sets me apart. Voters want a leader who raises concerns, but ultimately works toward and passes real solutions. As a legislator, I raised tough questions, negotiated fixes to the bill, and ultimately supported a bill that had conditions for which I fought. It has cost me some support among people whose values I share. Thatís part of being a leader: you canít be on both sides of an issue. Just raising concerns isnít enough. An effective Mayor has to take a stand and work for a solution, even when itís difficult. Iíve done it before, and as mayor, I can do it again.
A poor transportation system costs everyone more than an efficient one. I plan to work with the Metro, the State, and the Federal governments that gets the investments that reflect Portlandís expected growth. This type of long-term project management is one of the reasons I have pledged to run for a second term if elected.
|Ted Wheeler*||I support investment at the city level and will do my part. We must also aggressively demand action from both our state and federal partners. Portland's streets are not merely used to move our citizens to work and our kids to school. We are a major hub of economic activity for the region, the state and the nation. It's time to tell the state and federal government to do their part, too.
Congress just approved new transportation dollars for the first time in years. That will help. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans in Salem didn't agree on much last year, but even though members of both parties prioritized a transportation package, they didn't get it done. The Legislature should redouble its efforts to make it happen soon and the mayor should be a productive partner in that effort. Finally, I would add that as the former Multnomah County Chair and current State Treasurer, I have a long record of successfully building coalitions in support of, finding financing for, and completing large infrastructure projects Ė including the Sellwood Bridge, East Multnomah County Courthouse, and Mental Health Crisis and Assessment Treatment Center.
|8. The City of Portland has significant looming costs due to things like increasing PERS contribution rates for public employers, the cost of renovating the Portland Building, and potential liability due to the Superfund among others. What would you do to maintain critical city services as a time when other obligations are increasing?|
|Jules Bailey||I have experience managing budgets and making tough decisions. My background as a legislator and an economist gives me the tools to craft a budget that works. As Mayor, I will prioritize critical city services in the budget. But more than that, I will continue what Iíve done in budgeting at Multnomah County: use the resources we have in surplus budgets to invest in things that bend our cost curve over time and reduce future costs. For example, I championed the new Unity Center for Behavioral Health, which will reduce costs at both the County and City from law enforcement and mental health response. These are the kinds of investments we need, and will help us protect critical services in the future.|
|Ted Wheeler*||As Ken Rust noted in his recent presentation of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report to the City Council, we must either take action or face a period of chronic budget shortfalls. I am committed to being a Mayor who can work with my fellow council members to proactively address this challenge. I appreciated CFO Rustís suggestion that we look at uncollected taxes and fees. I also think we need to look at the core responsibilities of the City and County to see if we can better align services to offer improvements and cost savings. And we must create better transparency and accountability in our use of taxpayer dollars.
I believe that I have the strongest experience among the candidates in the race when it comes to managing a large budget and providing smart fiscal leadership. When I took office as chair of Multnomah County we faced a large budget deficit. I was able to bring my fellow Commissioners, our agency leaders, and front-line workers to make the tough decisions that preserved needed services and an effective workforce. And at the Treasure, weíve increased our state bond rating and saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars through smart bond refinancing and better investment strategies. I want to apply that experience and knowledge to addressing Portlandís financial challenges.
|9. A 2013 report International Trade and the Portland Harborís Impact, found that Portland ranked 4th among the largest 100 metros in terms of export value as a share of metro output. Additionally, the report found that 90 percent of exports are small and medium sized businesses and that trade related jobs provide premium wages. What is your view on the role of trade to our economy and what can the city do to promote trade given international gateway facilities within the city?|
|Jules Bailey||Portland has thousands of jobs that depend on trade- small mom and pop shops as well as some of our largest employers. In the legislature, I attended trade missions to China, one of our largest trading partners. As Mayor, I will use my position to promote trade and relationships, especially with our Asian trade partners. My experience working in Asia, especially in China and Vietnam, and my Mandarin language skills, will put me in a unique position to be a strong advocate for Portlandís interests among our Pacific Rim partners. In addition, I will work closely with the Port of Portland to ensure we have a Port that can meet the needs of local businesses for trade throughout the world.|
|Ted Wheeler*||Trade-related jobs play a critical role in our regional economy and Portland offers access to markets across Asia and the rest of the globe. Moreover, Portland is fast becoming an internationally recognized city that is attracting interest from public and private entities around the world. Our Mayor must be both a leader for putting in place the right policies to tap this potential and an ambassador for our city. I will work with businesses, labor, community members, and government entity at all levels to help Portland leverage our potential and preserve our successes. I am concerned about the impact of the reduced freight moving out of our Port, and the impact that is having on our transportation network and the state economy. We need a mayor that will bring together the regional economic development agencies and programs to identify how collectively we can seize on opportunities and better address when problems arise. I am also committed to doing the hard work it takes to build relationships and attract investment in our city from both the United States and abroad.|
|10. The Alliance is committed to ensuring an adequate supply of shovel ready industrial lands in the Portland-metro region to support job retention and growth. Manufacturing, in particular, requires industrial land and provides higher wages and better benefits than non-manufacturing jobs, particularly for non-whites and non-English-speaking workers. What tools and strategies would you use to promote adequate employment industrial lands that are shovel ready for development?|
|Jules Bailey||I have a record of action on industrial lands. The Portland comprehensive plan process estimates that if Portland were to clean up 90% of the existing brownfields and make them available for industrial uses, Portland would see 30,000 jobs and over $40 million in new tax revenue. However, there is a significant financial gap to clean up these lands. Thatís why as State Representative, I help fund brownfield restoration work in Portland. We need more local and state investment in brownfield remediation to unlock the potential of that land. Furthermore, we need to work with other regional governments on industrial land capacity, and recognize that we are a regional economy.|
|Ted Wheeler*||I am concerned about the available industrial land in the Portland area. Construction and industrial production are some of the best high-wage jobs left in our community for those without a college degree. Unfortunately, we know that if this land is not available when a local employer wants to expand or a new employer wants locate here, they will simply move on to another location. The biggest failure I see is the lack of effective communication and leadership from the City when working with our regional partners on planning and development. The City, the County, Metro, other local municipalities, the Port, the State, and other public players in our regional economy need to be in an active conversation that anticipates needs and prepares for when opportunities arise. I plan to have a committed mayorís office that provides that direction and leadership to sustain that conversation and meet the needs of the community.|