Candidates for Portland City Council Position #1

A questionnaire was sent out in May 2012 to each candidate for Portland City Council Position #1 and below are the answers by question grouped by issue submitted by each candidate. To skip to a specific issue area, use the links below.

- Value of Jobs
- Community Attitudes on Economic Growth
- Business License Tax
- Urban Renewal
- Transportation
- Central City
- Education
- Higher Education
- Land Use
- Small Business
- Communities of Color
- Cost and Efficiency of City Government
- International Trade
- Economic Development
The Alliance's 2010 Checkup on the Portland-Region's Economic Health found that metro Portland per capita wages and incomes were lagging relative to the national average and peer metropolitan areas.
1. Do you agree that Portland wages and incomes are lagging relative to the national metropolitan average?
Amanda Fritz Yes.
Mary Nolan Yes.
2. What in the report disturbs you the most?
Amanda Fritz Oregon's education performance is the most disturbing data. Graduation rates are unacceptable and college affordability is a significant issue. Without a well-trained workforce, Oregon will continue to lag in jobs and wages. Portland has difficulty recruiting companies if our education system is perceived as weak.
Mary Nolan Portland is struggling from a decline in private-sector job growth that is a troubling reversal of our historically strong economic position.
3. What would you do as a member of Portland City Council to improve wages and incomes?
Amanda Fritz I will continue to work to keep the cost of government down, and to provide incentives, reduce costs and remove impediments for business growth, to improve wages and incomes. My primary role as a City Commissioner is working to provide basic services especially public safety efficiently and cost-effectively. I have worked to limit utility rate increases, and will continue to do so, building on previous successes.
Mary Nolan By philosophy, temperament and professional skill, I'm an accomplished team-player and negotiator. I'll enthusiastically support efforts to unify business leaders, local governments and higher ed to develop, implement and continuously improve a targeted, comprehensive approach to nurturing homegrown businesses and recruiting synergistic industries, emphasizing sectors where Portland can excel and Portlanders can secure lifelong job success.
The Alliance and its partners contracted with Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall Inc. on a survey of Portland residents in 2011, which found the following results: When asked what issue elected officials should be most focused on, 71 percent of Portland residents picked jobs and the economy over the environment and sustainability.
4. Are jobs and the economy your top priority as you develop public policy?
Amanda Fritz Public Safety and providing basic services is the first and most fundamental aspect of the Council's responsibility. Keeping and creating jobs must be a top priority as we continue to struggle together to dig out of the deep recession. Creating and maintaining more well-paying jobs is crucial to recovery and ongoing prosperity for all. I will support viable job creation and economic development initiatives developed by the Mayor and PDC.
Mary Nolan The evidence is clear: long-term economic vitality promotes environmental stewardship and effective environmental stewardship promotes long-term business prosperity. When done well, they do not have to compete.
5. How will you balance jobs and the economy with the environment and sustainability?
Amanda Fritz We need sustainability in the economy with good jobs, and also a healthy environment. It must not be "either/or". We must create well-paying jobs, and we can do so while restoring our natural environment. Green technology is a target industry cluster, and sustainability is a marketable niche. Prioritizing development of these types of jobs is one area where the City can have a direct impact on creation of jobs.
Mary Nolan The most promising local economic news has come from business sectors that position Portland, the metro region and all of Oregon as global leaders in sustainable technology, renewable energy, and innovative manufacturing. These sectors provide higher average wages and stronger multiplier effects. A prosperous economy is necessary for improving public health and enhancing natural resources.
In the poll, 68 percent of respondents held the position that our region needs to change its priorities, and that it is time we focus more on creating family-wage jobs and less on issues like bike lanes and other sustainability issues that have gotten so much attention in recent years. Only 12 percent strongly disagreed with this position.
6. Do you agree that elected leaders need to focus more on supporting the creation of family-wage jobs and less on issues like bike lanes, sustainability and other issues that are not directly related to economic growth?
Amanda Fritz It depends. The PBA supports the Oregon Sustainability Center, for example. Building surface stormwater facilities that also shelter bike lanes created more jobs than putting stormwater pipes underground, was less expensive, and makes roads safer for cars and pedestrians, too. I consider the impact on economic growth and jobs in my decisions on all issues. I am more of an advocate for pedestrians and freight movement than for bikes.
Mary Nolan Portland's city government should focus on delivering services that help residents and businesses enjoy a vibrant, prosperous community: safe neighborhoods and dependable, cost-effective infrastructure. As Commissioner, I will collaborate with community leaders, business owners, and communities of faith to improve the financial security of all our residents and expand opportunities for educational, recreational, cultural and career success. That is how I will prioritize my efforts on the Council.
The City of Portland and Multnomah County are two of only a small number of communities nationally that have a local business income tax. The Alliance has been working for years to reduce the burden of this tax on small, owner-operated businesses that are particularly hard hit. While some progress has been made, the conversation has stalled during the recession.
7. Do you support reducing the impact of the business license tax on small businesses by increasing the Owners Compensation Deduction to $125,000?
Amanda Fritz Yes. I asked Mayor Adams to re-start phasing in the increased deduction in the coming budget, despite the projected overall City budget deficit.
Mary Nolan Yes.
8. If so, over what time period would you like to see this happen? If not, please explain your position.
Amanda Fritz The timeline will require continued evaluation with the business community. The revised forecast for the impact on City resources is $3.1 million. With the potential library district also having a multi-million dollar impact on the City's revenues, and expected continuing cuts to City services, we cannot afford to increase the deduction the full amount this year. I support a stepped increase over the next three years, beginning immediately.
Mary Nolan It should be implemented as quickly as possible and should be revenue neutral.
The Alliance believes that the central city faces unique challenges because of the cost of construction, seismic standards and small block sizes and that urban renewal is a critical tool in ensuring the ongoing vitality of the central city core. At the same time, Portland State University's expansion, which has included three-year increases of 61 percent in research funding and 14 percent in enrollment, offers a unique opportunity to build private sector partnerships and foster investment and growth in the central city.
9. Do you support the creation of a new urban renewal district in the central city that encompasses Portland State University and the retail core of downtown?
Amanda Fritz It depends. The proposal is not yet final. I need to see the details first and let the process work. I will consider input from all sides in deciding the public benefits and costs.
Mary Nolan The inner West Side needs investment and revitalization. Urban renewal is a powerful tool if used correctly. But the devil is in the details. Like any decision involving millions of dollars of public money, I will weigh the details against competing public priorities in all parts of Portland and consult with business leaders and other community members to achieve the best return on tax increment investments.
The Alliance has long believed that a diversity of housing is needed in the central city and that urban renewal funds should be considered for workforce housing (80-100 percent of the Median Family Income) and low income student housing. Currently city policy for the use of the 30 percent set aside focuses heavily on housing for individuals below 30 percent of MFI (a maximum of 70-90 percent of set aside funds can be dedicated to 0-30 percent MFI in central city urban renewal districts), and prohibits the use of set aside funds for student housing, regardless of income.
10. Do you support broadening city policy to make low-income student and workforce housing eligible to compete for the 30 percent set aside funds?
Amanda Fritz Yes. I would like to see consideration of making subsidized student housing available for purchase, to help students start building equity and to increase the likelihood the units will be treated with care. I would also like to see consideration of assigning preference for subsidized student housing for Portland taxpayers.
Mary Nolan Yes. As part of a balanced, comprehensive housing policy aimed at stabilizing neighborhoods and making safe, dignified housing available to all Portland residents.
Urban renewal funds have been the primary source of funding for the city's economic development programs. While the Alliance recognizes that there are significant limitations on the use of these funds, it continues to believe that these programs are critical to the continued economic vitality of the city.
11. Do you support the continued use of urban renewal for economic development?
Amanda Fritz Yes.
Mary Nolan Yes. I believe the primary emphasis of urban renewal must be to reinvigorate Portland neighborhoods and job centers in order to raise average incomes in all corners of the city. Economic development programs that complement this mission are appropriate.
The Alliance is a strong supporter of investing in the city's multi-modal transportation infrastructure, including bicycle and transit investments. However, these investments should not be to the detriment of freight mobility and congestion reduction strategies which we believe are key to the city's future economic health and competitiveness. The Alliance believes the Columbia River Crossing is an important investment in achieving these goals. The Alliance supports accommodating multiple modes in the system while preserving and enhancing freight facilities. In the central city access, circulation and increasing trips is critically important to the success of the core as the region's major office center. Preserving the capacity of portals into downtown is a high priority.
12. Do you support policies that preserve portal capacity for autos and trucks into the central city?
Amanda Fritz Yes.
Mary Nolan Yes.
13. Do you support the Columbia River Crossing project as proposed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and will you advocate for state and federal funding for its construction?
Amanda Fritz We must take action to resolve bridge issues. We need solutions for crossing the Columbia that can be funded and will work to improve freight movement. I am not yet convinced that the current plan is financially feasible, or responsible. With the current environment in D.C., I believe we would have more chance of receiving funding for a bridge that is scaled down and more affordable. We need it now.
Mary Nolan We need to fix the I-5 bottleneck and meet seismic standards. I support a project that improves freight, is financially viable, benefits adjacent neighborhoods and can start work immediately. We should build the first great bridge of the 21st century, not a monument to 20th century standards. I am eager to apply my collaboration skills and ties to local, state and federal partners to help advance a workable solution.
14. Do you support policies that prioritize freight movement and seek to reduce conflicts between freight and other modes?
Amanda Fritz Yes.
Mary Nolan Yes.
The Alliance believes that an economically vibrant central city plays a key role in the success of the city and the region's transportation, land use and economic development strategies. The central city faces multiple challenges, from high construction costs, to perceptions regarding crime to a concentration of low income services. The businesses in the central city not only invest heavily in their own properties and stores, but they also contribute millions each year to public services through the Clean & Safe District and multiple overlapping local improvement districts, SDC overlay areas and special assessments. Maintaining a clean and inviting environment is critical to the health of the retail and office businesses.
15. Do you support regulation of the sidewalk environment as outlined in the Sidewalk Management Plan, including prohibiting sitting or lying on certain areas and sidewalks?
Amanda Fritz Yes. I firmly support the Sidewalk Management Plan. I was instrumental in reaching a solution that is working. I continue to be the Council's lead coordinator in the issue, meeting regularly with the Sharing Public Spaces Advisory Committee. I appreciate Clean and Safe staff's participation and partnership. I am working with Suzanne Hayden of the Citizens Crime Commission in the SaferPDX project to address services for people with mental illnesses.
Mary Nolan I believe the interests of downtown retailers, employees, residents, shoppers, arts patrons and tourists would be better served by two approaches: 1) strengthening presence of community policing to fully enforce existing laws that already prohibit unlawful conduct, such as harassment and sidewalk obstruction; 2) supporting and promoting the resources and services available to Portlanders who find themselves homeless in the grips of this deep recession.
The Clean & Safe District pays for the services of four Portland Police Officers who work in coordination with Clean & Safe security and dispatch. This coordinated effort provides tremendous benefit to the residents, visitors and employees in downtown.
16. Do you support the continued partnership between Clean & Safe and the Portland Police?
Amanda Fritz Yes.
Mary Nolan Yes.
The central city has long battled drug dealing and prostitution. When the city did not renew the drug and prostitution free zones, an important tool to address this persistent and corrosive problem was lost. Recently, the city adopted illegal drug impact areas and has worked with the Multnomah County District Attorney to impose post-conviction exclusions from high drug activity areas.
17. Do you support the illegal drug impact area approach of post-conviction exclusions?
Amanda Fritz Yes. I voted for funding the DA position that supports the drug impact area program.
Mary Nolan I believe the best ways to address prostitution, crime and drug addiction are by prioritizing the continued growth of a strong economy that will give people an opportunity to earn an honest living, supporting strong community policing, and strengthening city and county partnerships for improved drug treatment and related social services. If exclusion zones do not merely hide or re-locate the problems, they can be a useful part of an effective response.
The Alliance has taken a leadership role in advocating for effective K-12 education in the region, including supporting thoughtful additional funding measures and efforts to improve outcomes. While the Alliance supports strong schools, we do not support strategies that unduly impact business viability or stretch the credibility and legal bounds of important economic tools like urban renewal.
18. Do you support creating so-called "satellite" urban renewal districts to transfer tax increment generated in one area to schools in another area?
Amanda Fritz No.
Mary Nolan No. However, I enthusiastically support policies and practices to assure that all Portlanders have fair and adequate access to public services with an emphasis on public safety, adequate and affordable transportation, clean and safe parks, and schools that give every student the tools and support they need to succeed. I am especially committed to these results for the areas of East Portland that joined the city in the 1980s and 1990s.
19. How would you respond to a request to increase or impose a temporary surcharge on the business license tax to fund Portland schools?
Amanda Fritz I will not support increasing any business or property taxes. We need to dig out of the current economic recession and spend our current revenues wisely.
Mary Nolan None of the school districts serving Portland students has adequate or stable revenue to meet 21st century education goals. I am committed to engaging all stakeholders - parents, educators, business owners, community leaders - to design and enact an adequate, fair and long-term funding solution that does not undermine Portland's economic revival or business growth and retention. I will judge any tax proposal against those criteria.
20. Do you support the Cradle to Career effort, which aims to bring all education-related programs to the table on an overall coordinated approach to improve education outcomes in Multnomah County?
Amanda Fritz Yes. I have voted to support funding for Cradle to Career, every time a request has been made to Council. My bureaus and my office staff work with the Mayor's education team on the Summer Youth Connect program. I was a Portland Public Schools mom for 17 years, and I was recently awarded Citizen of the Year in Gateway by the superintendents of the David Douglas and Parkrose School districts.
Mary Nolan Yes.
The Alliance believes that improving higher education is important to the long-term economic success of the region and the city. The Alliance has a goal of growing PSU, developing greater partnerships between PSU and OHSU, and expanding the partnerships between community colleges, universities and the K-12 system.
21. Beyond the possibility of a new urban renewal district, how would you use your position on city council to promote PSU, OHSU and other higher education institutions in Portland, and help leverage business development opportunities these institutions create?
Amanda Fritz Our higher education partners are crucial to the growth and future of our City. I believe PSU and PCC are doing terrific work, and I will continue to support their efforts whenever possible. I attend as many fundraisers and events at these institutions as I can, and meet with visiting delegations, to demonstrate with my time and personal donations this City Commissioner cares and supports them.
Mary Nolan Three initiatives deserve prioritization: strengthening and expanding the PSU-OHSU partnership; further developing PSU as a leader in key clusters (clean tech, advanced manufacturing and others) and public policy; incorporating PSU's expertise into the Cradle to Career Initiative to make sure higher education is an achievable goal for every Portlander. I will also promote strong partnerships with PCC as a tremendous asset for Portland businesses and students.
The Alliance believes that land use decisions must balance the goals of environmental preservation and economic development and growth. Historically, economic development has taken a secondary position in these policy discussions. The Alliance believes that the success of the regional land use and transportation strategies require that land within the urban core be intensively developed in order to minimize the outward pressure on the urban growth boundary. That intensity of use can not be achieved if land use regulations are inflexible, unworkable or result in costs that discourage investment.
22. Do you support amending the city's adopted River Plan to allow for a fee in lieu of or off site mitigation option at the discretion of the developer?
Amanda Fritz It depends. Allowing developers to choose to pay fee in lieu instead of impact avoidance and mitigation would require a change in the Comprehensive Plan. I believe the negotiations currently in progress can reach mutually beneficial outcomes without "either/or" choices. Cleaning up the river Superfund and brownfield sites, in part with public money, will promote job creation at the same time as environmental restoration.
Mary Nolan The ongoing success of regional and state land use programs rely on our commitment to intensively develop land within the urban growth boundary to meet industrial employment demands and urban densities so productive farmland, forestland and scenic treasures are preserved. I support flexibility in how our appropriately high environmental and habitat standards are met in the River Plan based on reputable science, but not in whether these standards are met.
In July 2009, the Portland City Council passed a resolution directing staff to plan for 300 acres of West Hayden Island for marine industrial use.
23. Do you support annexation and zoning of sufficient land on West Hayden Island to provide for a viable marine industrial operation?
Amanda Fritz I will support development on West Hayden Island if the facts show that the new port is needed, economically viable, cost-effective for taxpayers, and not detrimental to the health of nearby residents. My work on the West Hayden Island Resolution clarified expectations and the process to reach an endpoint, so this decision will be made based on facts and assessment of the public benefits of potential development, including job creation.
Mary Nolan Yes. Portland benefits greatly from a strong manufacturing base compared with similar American cities, and I am committed to working creatively with all interests to nurture and expand our leadership in this important foundation of a sound economy. West Hayden Island offers a valuable unique component.
The Alliance's 2010 Checkup on the Portland-Region's Economic Health found that 46 percent of net job creation between 1977 and 2005 came from firms with fewer than 50 employees. Small firms typically have very low margins and few financial reserves. Additional taxes, fees and regulations impact them significantly. The city has initiated some programs that assist small businesses and allocated modest funding toward these efforts in recent years.
24. How will you work to reduce the fees, taxes and regulatory burdens of small businesses? Would you support a city business income tax credit for small businesses that create jobs?
Amanda Fritz I will listen to and act on the input from PBA, SBAC, and Venture Portland, as I have done since being elected. You are the experts, and I value your advice. We must work together to revitalize Portland's economy. I have supported limited tax credits already and will support additional tax credits if a direct nexus can be shown between the tax credits and job creation.
Mary Nolan 1) Having started a successful business, I know the challenges small businesses face. Throughout this campaign, I have actively sought advice from business owners. Many tell me I'm the first person running for City Council who has asked their input. I will change that attitude in City Hall and incorporate business, labor and conservation concerns in my decision-making, including how to streamline regulations. 2) Yes, if revenue neutral.
25. Do you support changes to the city's system development charges and development fees to reduce the burden on small businesses?
Amanda Fritz The Council should consider a pilot project suspending SDCs in prescribed cases, to see if doing so stimulates construction and business expansion. Suspending SDCs for Accessory Dwelling Units has reportedly spurred construction. System development charges are an important component of funding the infrastructure needed by businesses and residents. We need to avoid unreasonable charges that are out of all proportion to the impacts caused by small businesses.
Mary Nolan Yes, if revenue neutral.
26. Do you support creation of an Office of Small Business to advocate within the city for the needs of small businesses?
Amanda Fritz Rather than creating a new office with more overhead, I believe we can support small businesses effectively through the Mayor's economic development team. We can also ensure that Council takes a closer look at the impacts of all Council actions on businesses in Portland by expanding the Financial Impact Statement on all Council ordinances to add consideration of the effect on businesses and jobs in the community.
Mary Nolan No. I prefer having all of City Hall see itself as the Office of Small Business. We don't need new bureaucracy. We need focus and follow-through. I worry that the importance of small and local business could be trivialized if a separate office with limited staff was expected to address their needs rather than holding every City agency accountable for improving the value and timeliness of its business services.
The economic status of communities of color in Portland is below the average for all residents. A recent analysis suggests that communities of color earn as little as half the community average. School performance, high school graduation and college participation and completion rates for communities of color are all below that for the white community. These disparities reduce workforce competitiveness and the attractiveness of Portland as a location of choice for entrepreneurs and also strain the community's social fabric.
27. How will you address the education and income disparities of communities of color in the Portland area?
Amanda Fritz I will play a significant role in addressing these disparities, leading the new Office of Equity and Human Rights. Providing economic opportunity to all through the breakdown of institutional barriers is a primary focus, and one of the key reasons I am seeking a second term. I have established partnerships across communities and constituencies which make me best qualified to lead this crucial work, including connecting with Partners in Diversity.
Mary Nolan Reducing and eliminating this disparity is both a moral imperative and sound economic policy. We can make progress only if we first acknowledge that lingering racist attitudes and practices still exist in Portland. City Hall must simultaneously fix its own practices and exert leadership with business leaders, school boards, and leaders of all the communities of color to set and achieve ambitious and measureable goals. This must begin immediately.
The City of Portland has weathered the recent economic downturn better than many cities due to prudent and conservative budgeting and segregation of one-time only versus ongoing funds. At the same time, the city has a significant "shadow budget" and a great deal of the city budget (inter-agency charges) are never examined in the budget process. Finally, city tax and rate payers are concerned with the city's propensity to stretch the scope and mission of bureaus to fund pet projects that an objective analysis would say are outside the core mission of the bureau or the city.
28. Do you support third party oversight and ratemaking for the Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services storm water rates?
Amanda Fritz I support the concept. I remain concerned about further insulating Bureaus from appropriate Council oversight. The Commission form of government creates barriers that cannot be resolved by independent third party oversight. These challenges are not like those in the Legislature, and require experience to see through and address. I will continue to push on rates and utility Bureau operations, despite the culture of deference that exists today in City Hall.
Mary Nolan Yes.
29. Do you support a zero-based or outcomes-based budget process or similar approach that moves beyond the current services budget model?
Amanda Fritz Yes. We instituted a zero-based budget review in the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, the first year under my tenure.
Mary Nolan Yes.
30. Do you support using the budget process to determine the true costs of inter-agency cross charges and promote efficiencies and if so, how?
Amanda Fritz Yes. The City must do everything possible to reduce overhead costs, to ensure that basic services are adequately funded and the system increases in efficiency. We need to start with a close look at OMF and whether we are delivering internal services in the most cost-effective and effective manner. I supported requiring an internal review of OMF. When the results are available, we should review options for improvements with corporate experts.
Mary Nolan Yes. This is best done by prioritizing transparency, creating goals and systems for accountability, and by employing models that have been successfully used in other governments and businesses.
According to a 2009 Brookings Institution study, Portland ranks second nationally in U.S. metro areas in terms of export value growth between 2003 and 2008. One quarter of Oregon's manufacturing jobs and income comes from international trade. Trade supports some 44,300 jobs in Oregon, with 88 percent of Oregon's exporters being small- and medium-sized businesses as of 2008.
31. How will you promote international trade as a member of city council?
Amanda Fritz I meet with many international delegations when they visit Portland, always support Travel Portland outreach events, and serve on the Visitors Development Fund board. I attend all the Consulate events I can. I will not be world-traveling except to visit my family in England, but I support the Mayor's efforts to recruit new trade partners. I take Delta's direct Amsterdam flight then transfer, rather than flying to Seattle then London.
Mary Nolan To be an effective ally, I am committed to developing in-depth understanding of trade businesses and establishing open two-way communications. I will work to make Portland authentically welcoming to businesses that invest here for the long-term by requiring certainty and timeliness from all City agencies. I'll join with traded sector leaders to aggressively promote Portland's reputation as a great place to build a thriving enterprise.
32. Will you publicly support local, state and federal policies that promote international trade and send the message to the international trading community that Portland is a welcoming community for international investors?
Amanda Fritz Yes.
Mary Nolan Yes.
The Alliance supports city efforts to retain and grow existing businesses and recruit new firms to the city. Broad regional consensus has been reached that the public-private partnership, Greater Portland, Inc., should play a central role in the city and regional strategies. At the same time, the city's Economic Development Strategy noted the overdependence of the city's economic development programs on urban renewal and urged greater general fund support.
33. Do you support city financial participation in Greater Portland, Inc.?
Amanda Fritz Yes. Greater Portland is a valued partnership and leadership vehicle that is an important component of a coordinated system in advocating for business growth in our region.
Mary Nolan Yes.
34. Do you support allocating additional general fund resources to economic development programs?
Amanda Fritz Yes. I have supported and will continue to support spending general fund dollars on economic development. I support the current approach of having PDC administer those funds and choose which programs to fund through a competitive process.
Mary Nolan Yes.