During my time on the Portland City Council, I’ve had the opportunity to work with great people to better our community and city government. Here are a just few of those accomplishments.
As people have flocked to Portland and we emerged from the great recession’s housing crash, rents and home prices have skyrocketed, making affordable housing an existential issue for our community. From 2013 through 2016 I served as Housing Commissioner, and helped lead an unprecedented response. During that time, we made record investments, reforms and commitments, including:
- Over $500 million in new funding, including Oregon’s first affordable housing bond, a tax on new residential and commercial development, the proceeds of which are dedicated to low income housing, and the accelerated release of funding to fast-track affordable housing proposals.
- New protections for tenants, including 90-day notice for no-cause termination of tenancies and rent increases of 5% or more over a 12-month period, and funding for victims of domestic violence to retain housing and prevent them and their children from entering homelessness.
- To combat displacement and the effects of gentrification in North/Northeast Portland, I directed the Portland Housing Bureau to create a preference policy which will prioritize community members who live or have generational ties to the North and Northeast neighborhoods for housing placements, and homeownership opportunities.
We have much more work to do, but I am proud that during my time as Housing Commissioner I successfully strengthened and reformed the Bureau to make it more responsive to the community and nimbler in responding to both short-term and long-term needs.
Click here to learn more about the Portland Housing Bureau.
The Portland Children’s Levy
It’s often said that children – their safety, their education, their future – should be our highest priority. The question, however, isn’t what we say but what we do to help ensure they are safe and successful. My proudest accomplishment as a City Commissioner is the establishment of the Portland Children’s Levy, which makes children a higher priority in our community.
The Portland Children’s Levy was created by city voters in 2002 and overwhelmingly renewed in Fall 2008 for an additional five years. In May 2013, Portland again voted in favor of a five-year Levy renewal, this time with a 74-percent margin.
The Levy annually invests $10 million in programs designed to help children arrive at school ready to learn, provide safe and constructive after-school alternatives for kids, prevent child abuse, neglect, hunger and family violence and help foster kids succeed. The Portland Children’s Levy is also a model of effectiveness and accountability: it funds proven programs, has citizen oversight, is subject to annual audits and keeps administrative expenses to 5 percent or less.
Keeping Our Community Safe
Public safety is a primary responsibility of government. I believe that it is important that we do our best to react when a crime is committed and – even more importantly – do our best to prevent it before it happens.
During my time as police commissioner, I strengthened our response to gang violence and continue to work to increase police accountability. I have also taken a special interest in the scourge of domestic violence by establishing the Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services. It is an easily accessible, safe, welcoming and secure environment that makes it easier for victims of domestic violence and their children to receive a variety of services under one roof, helping to ensure their safety and addressing their long-term needs.
Keeping a Sharp Eye on the Bottom Line
Every tax dollar is hard earned, and should be carefully spent. I take that responsibility very seriously. As the commissioner in charge of the Big Pipe project (the project to clean the Willamette River by reducing combined sewer overflows) I brought one the biggest capital project in Portland history in on time and under budget.
Over the years, I am pleased to have earned the reputation as someone who casts a very critical eye on our finances, whether it is scrutinizing a contract before council or leading the effort to reform the Fire & Police Disability and Retirement System. Sometimes being a fiscal watchdog can ruffle some feathers, but I think it’s worth it if the result is being a good steward of the public’s money.
I became Transportation Commissioner at the start of 2017 – at almost the same moment that Portland was slammed by two historic snowstorms that nearly paralyzed the city. Those storms and their aftermath took the conditions of our streets from poor to disastrous. In response, I reordered our transportation priorities to focus on the basics: in the first 5 months of 2017, we have repaired over 8,100 potholes. That is more than all of 2016 combined. You can review our “Patch-a-Thon” progress here. I also ordered changes in how Portland responds to winter weather emergencies so we don’t see a repeat of the problems we saw at the start of the year. In the longer-term, I am making sure that we use our new gas tax funding to concentrate on the basics of repairing our roads while increasing safety and access for vehicles, bikes and pedestrians.