The Voter's Pamphlet is here, and the ballots won't be far behind. Here are my picks for the upcoming races in the Portland area:
Portland City Commissioner: Nick Fish. Sam Adams is just Vera Katz in men's underwear (I think). Deny it as he will, his fingerprints are all over PGE Park, the Convention Center expansion, the OHSU aerial tram, and one waste of taxpayers' dollars after another. He was Katz's "economic development" chief. Just look at the state of the city's economy, and his record speaks for itself. If he wants to hold public office, let him start in the state legislature, the county commission, or Metro, where he can prove he's not the kind of guy who would waste taxpayers' money to make Homer Williams and Neil Goldschmidt happy. He doesn't deserve a cakewalk onto the City Council. Quite the opposite.
Portland City Commissioner: Randy Leonard. Randy has done a lot to shake things up at City Hall, and in that sense, he has lived up to his previous campaign promises to be the outsider and represent a neglected constituency. I don't mind much that he's rubbed the neighborhood association types the wrong way. But I'm very concerned that he was flown down to Las Vegas to be named some national developers' group's pet politician of the year. And he's right there with a yes vote for the RiverPlace streetcar and the Pearl theater. Randy, I'm still with you, buddy. But the day you and I part company is definitely in sight: the day you vote to spend city transportation funds for an operating subsidy for that stinking aerial tram.
Mayor: James Posey. Jim Francesconi is West Hills money with an Alameda mailing address (don't forget, he's a proud director of Portland Aerial Transportation, Inc.). Gongg!!! But try as I might to warm up to his principal rival, Tom Potter, that guy is just a bag of vague platitudes. With all the problems Portland is facing, you would think he'd offer some specifics. Except for his expertise in running the Police Bureau (which alone tempts me to vote for him), however, Potter has presented nothing concrete to merit the mayor's office. At least Posey has looked the voters in the eye, spoken from the heart, and said some things that needed to be said. For example, abolishing the Portland Development Commission, because it's just a tool for the wealthy. Right on, James! He probably can't win, but a vote for Posey is a vote for a runoff, likely between Francesconi and Potter. And it would send a message to both of them. Good enough for now.
Busse? Nah. Anyone who says he's a politician and a journalist at the same time doesn't get my vote.
Multnomah County Commissioners: No endorsements. I am weary to the bone of the Sisters of Hawthorne. They bitch about the school funding situation, but then they retreat into an aromatherapy-filled back room and come out with their gay marriage adventure. Now the state is so polarized and paralyzed that any reasonable conversation about tax reform or restoring faith in government has been postponed indefinitely. They haven't administered the county income tax very well, either. I'm not going to endorse the anti-gay-marriage folks who popped up at the last minute to run against them. But I'm never going to urge people to vote for them, either. Indeed, I wish they had some credible opposition.
In the East County race, I endorse Lonnie.
Measure 26-53: No. On its face, it looks innocent enough: If a candidate for city office gets a majority vote in a primary, he or she automatically wins the position, rather than have to run unopposed in the general election. I guess it's supposed to save money, although seriously, folks, how many dollars are we talking about? Plus, if the victorious candidate is caught having sex with animals over the summer, why shouldn't he or she have to face the voters again in November? More importantly, I hear a rumor (although you'd never know it from the Voter's Pamphlet) that this measure would change the method for determining the number of signatures necessary for initiative and referendum petitions in future city elections. That alone deserves a closer look, which nobody's given it. Which adds up to a no vote from me.