Portland Mayoral Candidate Charlie Hales
Q. Please introduce yourself to voters. Describe your background: education, job experience, religion, community activities/volunteering, etc. and how it has prepared you to be mayor.
A. I'm running for Mayor because Portland needs a leader. No matter where you live in Portland, you ought to be able to count on good basic services from the city. We need a leader who will act with courage - without fear of taking on complex problems - and who can work through disagreement, bring about actual solutions, and get beyond the talk.
As city commissioner, I've worked for adequate school funding and a full school year. I led the way to fix our local parks, add community centers where there were none, and paved five times the streets at half the cost. At HDR Engineering, I helped grow our company from 2700 to 8000 jobs in 10 years. Local business can add jobs and keep them here. Our Mayor should make sure families can stay and raise their children and older people can retire here.
I would appreciate your support. Thank you.
Q. Describe your management/leadership style and how it will come into play as mayor.
A. City government can't do everything, but we can focus on the priorities and do them well. My style is one of focus.
As Portland City Commissioner for nearly ten years, I know firsthand that management means a clear agenda, with talented and committed employees working together to get the job done - it's how I ran Bureaus as a City Commissioner and it's how I will govern as Mayor. You can count on me to look for the ways to provide the basics, affordably and with accountability. Portland needs a leader with a proven track record of managing basic services for our neighborhoods, our economy and the city at large. I am that leader.
Q. What do you think of Portland's Office of Equity? How do you envision this office working? What should its goals be?
A. Equity shouldn't be locked in an office, but can be brought into our entire city government. I have a track record doing just that. When I began as City Commissioner, there were 3 women and a handful of non-white firefighters out of 800. I negotiated for a training program to add qualified women and persons of color - making the Fire Bureau look more like our city.
Portland needs a leader unafraid of encouraging diversity in all our areas of service.
Many communities face barriers and need basic equity from the city. As Mayor, I'll work so every neighborhood receive basic, reliable services to help them thrive - no matter what part of town. That means strong schools, parks, streets, public safety, and affordable water and sewer rates. We may not need an extra office to accomplish this. We need a leader willing to instill and implement this promise to our residents.
Questions from KATU's Facebook audience:
Questions from Terry Miller:
Q. Are you in favor of more MAX lines, and why?
A. I'm in favor of offering Portlanders sensible transportation choices, whether that's working with Trimet to increase service on needed routes, making it safer for our children to ride bikes to school, or adding additional transportation. First we must make sure our streets are paved - not just in some parts of town. When I was Commissioner in charge of the Transportation Bureau we paved five times as many streets at half today's budget. Everywhere I go, people ask about safe streets- no matter how they get around. Seems like a very basic priority. And you can count on me to get back to it.
Public transportation is essential to our community - it get more cars off the road, uses less gas, reduces emissions, and provides the elderly, disabled and young people with a reliable, safe way to get around.
We are best off if we can protect the many methods of transportation our community uses.
Q. How or what can be cut to balance the budget?
A. The city is required to pass a balanced budget by law. As the only candidate who has served in city hall before, I can tell you that it takes concentration and courage to stretch our limited resources as far as possible and still deliver reliable services as widely as we can.
I think we can do better: We can look at how to lower sewer and water rates. We can look at reducing overhead costs. As Mayor I will be willing to say no sometimes so that we can focus more on the basics.
Question from Tiffany Shelley-Stanley:
Q. My question would be: what is your plan to lessen crime/how are you going to make public transportation safer? I'm scared for my daughter and self when riding the bus/MAX. My husband goes with us all the time to make sure we are safe.
A. Tiffany, our city needs to return to the basics, including community policing: More of our officers on foot in our neighborhoods, even greater emphasis on gang prevention, and a stronger partnership with Trimet to crack down on transit crime. It's inexcusable to have a convenient, local transit system that's perceived as unsafe for a mother and daughter to ride alone. As Mayor you can count on me to make our transit system useful and safe.
Question from Ruth E Sasser:
Q. Will you also use money intended for other things to improve bike lanes? How about making bicyclists start paying their share in licenses, and taxes too? Taxpayers are hurting.
A. Our bike system works for many commuters, regular families and young people and I'm proud to have helped create it. Bike lanes are needed so that we can provide efficient and inexpensive transportation choices, but not at the expense of other basic city services that need attention as well. You can count on me to bring that focus back to our city.
Question from Todd Reitan:
Q. If the city of Portland is having such a financial problem right now then why are we still building a bridge for light rail going to Milwaukie that was voted down by the people multiple times and is not fully funded yet?
A. Listening to a variety of perspectives, many people in Milwaukie and elsewhere would like to have light rail public transportation, but don't feel that they themselves can afford to pay for it right now. That's fair enough. Times are tough. Maybe we need to work out a way to get more of our fair share of federal tax dollars invested into our light rail system. If we don't get it here, it goes to pay for transportation improvements in other states. As Mayor, I will join the effort to get more from Washington D.C.
Question from Susan McGee:
Q. What would you do to get our out-of-control water/sewer rates in line with other cities?
A. Our water and sewer rates are costing families and small businesses too much. And they're not getting any more for their money. I agree that we should charge more for major water users- it's not an endless resource and we need to protect it for now and future generations. But as Mayor, I commit to auditing the Water Bureau to figure out how to make the bills more affordable for water and sewer, and provide the incentives families need and want to be reasonable users and pay reasonable prices. It won't be easy, but I'm willing to lead us through the process to the solution.
Question from Damon Nelson:
Q. How much federal meddling will be had by the new mayor, will she welcome in DHS and FBI to "take it from here" if things get tough?
A. Damon, we have a committed police force here in Portland, made up of courageous men and women who risk their lives every day. I believe in them and as your Mayor I will give them more tools to do their jobs even better, so that we can take care of our own.
Question from Rachel Dusenberry:
Q. I want to know when Portland is going to lead the way for Oregon to be an EQUAL state and follow Washington in honoring and legalizing same sex MARRIAGES.
A. I support marriage equality because loving, committed couples should have the right to protect each other and raise their families like my wife and I have.
Question from Nancy K Anderson Faber:
Q. What character will you play on Portlandia?
A. A clerk in the Portlandia version of the 'hardware store' for home repair and fix-ups, where we will politely discuss the minutae of which nails and eco-friendly parts to use when fixing our doorbells, solar panels, and rice-cookers. (Nancy thinks I look good in a tool belt)
Q. Is there anything else you'd like to add? For example, if you would like to expand on one of the questions here or tackle a new issue, please do so here.
Candidate updated his response on April 28, 2012 to correct statements of fact. His original version is below his corrected response.
A. I'm proud of my long record of active support for our schools. In my ten years on the City Council, I supported or helped deliver dozens of actions on behalf of our schools, including providing a one-time emergency grant of $9 million to the Portland district, saving two weeks of school and granting further funds to all the city's school districts, much of which was used to restore some of the hundreds of teaching positions that the school board had been threatening to cut.
Our schools are in crisis again, and they need support. Whether as a neighbor, a City Commissioner, or as the Mayor of Portland - my record is clear: I have been and always will be a strong advocate for one of our most basic and vital services - our public schools.
A. I'm very proud that as a Portland City Commissioner, I worked with our Mayor and other commissioners to help save the school year when a budget crisis in Salem threatened to cut four weeks of the school year. I worked with our Mayor and school leaders to find emergency funds for half those days while negotiating with our local teachers to work the half the days for free.
It meant a lot to our city. It was a heroic contribution from our teachers, but it meant the most to kids. You can count on me to keep pushing to help them-- advocating for funding, helping to keep increasing the graduation rate, providing safe playing fields in every part of town, showing off our schools great successes. There's nothing we want for our city- creating and keeping jobs, lowering crime, and serving families- that doesn't fully depend on quality local schools.