2020 has been off to a rough start––we’re all reeling from it––including the tragic untimely death of Commissioner Nick Fish. All of us in Portland are taking the time needed to mourn the loss of a man who dedicated his life to public service. A man who created our Housing Bureau in recognition that many Portlanders are losing the ability to afford housing in the city we all love. During his time as an elected leader at the City of Portland, Commissioner Fish fully committed himself to serving our community, even when that meant operating through a flawed government system during deeply challenging times.
Commissioner Fish and I shared the belief that the government should be a positive and empowering element in people’s lives, and that there isn’t a major societal problem that the government shouldn’t be able to solve. Indeed, Commissioner Fish’s statement that “government can be society’s greatest force for good, and that together we can do amazing things,” will always resonate deeply with me.
He reminded us of the collective vision that unifies us as Portlanders: we want all residents to have safe places to live, adequate and nutritious food, clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, the ability to walk the streets of our city without fear, a livable and economically thriving city where it’s easy to get around with accessible transit, green spaces for everyone, and a visionary and resilient future.
Looking towards the future, in 2021, we’ll have our once a decade Charter Review Commission. The city charter is essentially the City of Portland’s constitution, and every ten years City Commissioners and the Mayor select the members of the Charter Review Commission, review the City Charter, and propose changes. Changes to the Charter are then voted on by the people of our city. With fresh perspectives on the city council we are uniquely situated to change the course of the city in a dramatic way to the benefit of all who live here.
When I ran for this City Commissioner position last election cycle, I highlighted that it was long past time for the City of Portland to change how it votes by creating city council districts, which would create a City Council more representative of Portland residents, and to thoughtfully dismantle the Commission form of government. I have also made it clear that the change of government process must be robust and must engage the public in an inclusive and meaningful way. Robust and inclusive community engagement should be the center of all major policy making—leading to better outcomes for all. There’s no reason this public process cannot inform the Charter Review as it considers making the systemic changes our city so deeply needs.
Since my run for this position on City Council in 2018, I have spent time as the Executive Director at Portland Forward. With my team, we continue to work on a number of issues I campaigned on—helping get big money out of politics, pushing for massive expansion to our transit system, building a movement for a municipal bank, supporting Municipal Broadband efforts in Multnomah County, and helping guide the Portland Metro People’s Coalition in its efforts to unify the diverse groups in our city to support a People’s Platform to benefit all who live here.
Through my career as an organizer, I have built and managed coalitions—including a decade-long fight to stop a Nestlé water bottling facility in the Columbia River Gorge. I know how to work with people, even when we don’t always see eye to eye––by always staying focused on our collective goals not personal gain. I am committed to and ready to work closely with fellow Commissioners and other regional governments to improve people’s lives and to prioritize the greater good.
NOW, it’s our time—the people’s time—in Portland. We deserve a city that works for all of us, and I am passionately determined and ready to work with all of you to make it a reality.
Yours truly, Julia