Results that Matter
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.
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 am excited about my new assignment by Mayor Hales to serve as Portland’s Housing Commissioner. This is one of the most important – and challenging – responsibilities of city government. One of the most urgent parts of this issue is homelessness. Some of it is visible, with far too many people living on the streets, whether because of substance abuse or mental health issues or economic difficulties. But there is a hidden homelessness too: families and individuals living out of their car, or doubling up with family or friends. It is a problem with varied roots which requires varied strategies. Upon taking the reins as Housing Commissioner, I worked with Mayor Hales to secure $1.7 million in emergency funding to address the most urgent needs as winter approaches. And my approach to this issue will focus both on providing additional shelter and transitional housing and coordinating with the county and non-profits to attack the root causes that put people on the streets.
Portland’s housing issues extend beyond homelessness, however. Options for affordable housing are far too limited and geographically restricted. Many families and working Portlanders do not have opportunity to choose where they live in our city. I believe that neighborhoods are healthiest when they offer a mix of housing, and I intend to use the resources at our disposal to create more opportunities for Portlanders to live in the neighborhood of their choice. One example of this is the Housing Opportunity Program, which will provide more flexible resources for affordable housing projects. I also think we can be more efficient when building new affordable housing to get more units for our money. While this will not solve all of our affordable housing needs, I plan on working with community groups, non-profit and private developers to establish policies that keep Portland a city that builds and maintains a strong middle class.
Click here to learn more about the Portland Housing Bureau.