Portland Mayoral Candidate Cameron Whitten
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 am Cameron Whitten. I'm a 20 year old, queer-identified, black, vegan, and progressive community activist. I've been a voice for many marginalized communities, and strive to dismantle three big 'Isms' which are holding back our society, 'Racism, Classism, and Ageism'.
Living in Portland my entire adult life, I've been involved in over a dozen community organizations that have centered around social justice. My participation in Occupy Portland demonstrations restored my confidence that there are so many People, active and ready to change the world and foster a mutual wellbeing for all their neighbors. Portland needs more civic leaders stepping up, demanding a resolution for the dreams we failed to complete in our last Civil Rights Movement.
I've received political endorsements from two major parties, the Portland Green Party, and the Oregon Progressive Party for my emphasis on public power, economic equality, and social justice. I am dedicated to restoring the nobility of our government, to reflect Portland's progressive nature.
The serious question for Portlanders is, 'Are We Progressive Enough to have a Young, Black Mayor?'
Q. Describe your management/leadership style and how it will come into play as mayor.
A. I love that Portland is a Do-It-Yourself City. There is so much initiative and involvement in all levels of public policy in this City. The absolute, most important thing for our next
Mayor is that- 1) He or she is a true visionary, and 2) Able to pursue a collaborative effort on all projects.
In terms of policy, I stand out in the Mayoral race as the Visionary for systemic change, to reverse the effects of oppression on marginalized communities. Transparent and consensus driven leadership is also a fundamental principle to my cause.
The People of Portland need a Mayor that is accessible, open-minded, and relatable. I am the most diverse voice in the Mayoral race, and I am quite experienced in the struggles of being an everyday Portland citizen. I make it a priority to have my direct cell phone number displayed on every flyer and sticker my campaign team passes out, because ultimately YOU are supposed to be the leader of this government.
Q. What do you think of Portland's Office of Equity? How do you envision this office working? What should its goals be?
A. The Office of Equity is a good starting point to mitigate the issues of systemic oppression for Communities of Color in Portland. But Equity should not be a just an obligation assigned to an Office or Commission, it should be on the minds and hearts of every citizen. I am committed to a hands on approach to the conversation of Equity. If we truly want to uphold our respect for the marginalized Communities of Color in Portland, is it possible by having an all-white City Council, that doesn't reflect our Cities' diversity and racial struggle?
The issue of Equity affects me intimately, I would probably supervise the Office myself. I would take on a role that ensures that this isn't another project that spends public money and provides few results. I expect the Office of Equity to work very closely with existing non-profit organizations, such as the Coalition of Communities of Color and the Urban League, to make sure that this statistical information is being taken advantage of as an educational tool and the City uses it as a guideline in negotiations with employers and policy gurus.
Questions from KATU's Facebook audience:
Questions from Terry Miller:
Q. Are you in favor of more MAX lines, and why?
A. I am in favor of Portland being a partner in the improvement of bus services and accessibility. Our focus needs to be on providing quality service that has already been made available, before we expand into projects that we may not be able to maintain in face of a recession.
Q. How or what can be cut to balance the budget?
A. What makes me unique, is that I advocate for complete participatory budgeting, making it a priority for Bureau's to interface with the community on budget priorities. I'm super optimistic that our budget deficit will not exceed more than 4%, and I believe our discussion should revolve around which Bureaus should receive cuts. I do not approve of the Mayor's Office already telling citizens' which Bureaus are going to be preserved, the final decision rests in the hands of the general public.
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. I plan on revitalizing our previous standards of community policing, and will engage the neighborhoods of Portland to empower neighborhood watches to remain active. We also need to address the systemic issues which lead to increased crime, such as a growing homeless population, and poverty. I stand out as a Candidate because I advocate for increasing the Municipal Minimum wage to pull working families out of poverty, and to implement Regulatory Taking, returning People to the homes that have been taken because of predatory lending by Wall Street Banks.
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. We need to remember that many bicyclists also pay their taxes, but the City needs to work on not stepping out of line when pressured by special interest groups, as we have seen time and time again. I intend on putting my energy towards creating peace in the polarizing conflict between bikes and motor vehicles, and keeping all budget expenses ethical and transparent.
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. That's a good question. I am a big supporter of a transparent and democratic spending process. I have been very vocal against light rail expansion, and asking all parties to examine all the facts of our economic status, evaluating how much urban renewal debt we are still trying to pay off, examining the backlog we have of unpaved roads, examining our pattern of budget cuts and etcetera. Another important subject of discussion is OPAL's (Organizing People, Activating Leaders) presentation of who relies on public transportation. The study concludes that communities of color depend most on public transportation, and for the general public, the most actively relied upon transportation remains bus service.
I want to make sure that People are receiving the reliable transportation services that they need to get by, before we begin projects that may not be favorable as we might hope for them to be.
Question from Susan McGee:
Q. What would you do to get our out-of-control water/sewer rates in line with other cities?
A. I advocate for a vital systemic change, to explore ways in which we can amend our government to make it better by increasing public scrutiny, authority, and accountability. I support the creation of an independent utility commission, to make sure water rates are set by the citizens, and making it more affordable for all Portlanders. I am also very grateful that we received that variance for the Bull Run Reservoir, which means Portlanders have just saved hundreds of millions of dollars in water bills!
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. It's important to ask ourselves about the value of public safety. There are valid concerns about DHS and FBI: Are we safe, if there is no public oversight or security clearance granted to public officials? I am a vocal advocate who will always be a whistleblower for citizens' Constitutional rights, and I will make sure that federal involvement does not equate to infringing on law, or our highest codes of morality.
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. Being a queer-identified male myself, I completely support marriage equality. I am already on board to sign a resolution to legalize and honor Same-Sex marriages.
Question from Nancy K Anderson Faber:
Q. What character will you play on Portlandia?
A. I don't even have to think about this one. I would be a street performer dancing around in a Voodoo Donut outfit.
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.
A. We are such a compassionate City, extremely active in the broadest spectrum of humanitarian affairs. I want the People to know that they have an outlet for direct action, that they won't need to organize a rally every time they feel that the Government has got its priorities messed up.
The needs of the People will become accomplished when we give the general public the tools to independently shape City policy. I advocate for the permanent staffing of a Charter Review Commission, which will grant citizens the ability to hold public hearings and put systemic reforms on the ballot for the true leaders of Portland to decide on, our voters.