General Election Candidates for Portland City Council Position #1

A questionnaire was sent out for the November General Election to each candidate for Portland City Council Position #1 and below are the answers submitted by each candidate.

1. Will job creation and economic development be your top priority once elected?
Amanda Fritz No. The City's most fundamental responsibility is to provide public safety and public infrastructure. I will continue to focus on providing the basic services that allow private businesses to grow and prosper. Improving performance and public confidence in public safety providers, reducing water rate increases, improving street maintenance and cleanliness, and providing adequate parking as well as active transportation and transit options will continue to be my priorities. Keeping and creating jobs must also continue to be a top priority as the Council partners with private businesses to dig out of the deep recession. Creating and maintaining more well-paying jobs in both large and small businesses is crucial to recovery and ongoing prosperity for all. I will continue to support viable job creation and economic development initiatives, in partnerships with the Mayor, PDC, PBA, Venture Portland, and the Small Business Advisory Council.
Mary Nolan Yes.
2. Please provide us with two or three specific examples of what you will do to improve the economy and create jobs.
Amanda Fritz I will continue to focus on providing the basic services that allow private businesses to grow and prosper. Improving performance and public confidence in public safety providers, reducing water rate increases, improving street maintenance and cleanliness, and providing adequate parking as well as active transportation and transit options will continue to be my priorities. Keeping and creating jobs must also continue to be a top priority as the Council partners with private businesses to dig out of the deep recession. Creating and maintaining more well-paying jobs in both large and small businesses is crucial to recovery and ongoing prosperity for all. I will continue to support viable job creation and economic development initiatives, in partnerships with the Mayor, PDC, PBA, Venture Portland, and the Small Business Advisory Council.
Mary Nolan Modernize city code to simplify and rationalize the regulations facing businesses as they locate or expand; Further improve the turn-around time for permit issuance and inspection scheduling; and support PCC and PSU training programs that fill skills needs of local employers
3. One of the biggest challenges facing state and local jurisdictions is the skyrocketing cost of public employee benefits. What are you prepared to do to address this crisis?
Amanda Fritz I have demonstrated my commitment to reducing employee costs in the City of Portland. I proposed freezing management salaries in 2009, and was instrumental in passing four cut budgets including one year with a freeze on cost of living increases for all employees. I supported referring the Fire and Police Disability and Retirement system proposed Charter changes to the voters, which if passed will save more than $40 million. It is not surprising to me that the Police and Fire Unions are supporting my opponent. We must honor existing contractual obligations to public sector union members as directed by the Oregon Supreme Court. Going forward, we must ensure that future contracts reflect realistic and sustainable plans to both compensate and reward high achieving, hard-working public employees, and keep the cost of local government at the most efficient levels.
Mary Nolan Both taxpayers and employees want a fair, financially sustainable pension system. I will support fiscally-prudent but balanced negotiation at the bargaining table of adjustments to reflect modern life-expectancy and labor market realities.
4. The I-5 crossing project is the state's top transportation priority. It will improve safety, smooth freight delivery and create jobs. Do you support moving forward with this project now so we can secure more than $800 million in federal matching funds? If not, please explain why and what alternative you would pursue.
Amanda Fritz Yes. I support moving forward to seek federal funds, given that securing funding is the next step in the process.
Mary Nolan We need to fix the I-5 bottleneck (both as it crosses the Columbia and at the interchange with I-84) as well as meet seismic standards. I support a project that improves freight mobility, equitably serves residents and businesses on both sides of the river, 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.
5. Although all business is important, small businesses create most new jobs. Government regulation, fees and taxes hit small businesses particularly hard. Please give us two or three specific examples of initiatives you will take to reduce the government burden on small business and help them to grow jobs and increase wages.
Amanda Fritz I have done what I promised I would do when I ran in 2008, and I will continue to keep my commitments. I asked Mayor Adams to re-start phasing in the increased Owner's Compensation Deduction to $125,000 in this year's budget, despite the projected overall City budget deficit. I pushed for and succeeded in directing ongoing funding from the Business License Tax Amnesty to be directed towards increasing this Deduction. I will continue to support limited tax credits where there is a demonstrable nexus between the credit and job creation. I support the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative, and I will continue to champion neighborhood business districts. I am a member of three neighborhood business districts, supporting them with my family's money. I will continue to seek and act on the input of PBA, SBAC, and Venture Portland. You are the experts. I value your advice, and I recognize we must be partners in revitalizing Portland's economy.
Mary Nolan An express line for permits or land use reviews for small, simple or first-time projects and modernize city code to simplify and rationalize regulatory requirements.
6. Will you support the city of Portland's continued participation in Greater Portland Inc., including both financial and leadership support? And how will you position the city to be a regional partner in economic development?
Amanda Fritz Yes. I will continue to support Greater Portland, Inc., and to respect this group's expertise. This valued partnership and leadership vehicle is an important component of a coordinated approach in advocating for business growth in our region. I have been the Council's delegate to the Metro Policy Advisory Committee, with Mayor Adams, throughout my first term. Although MPAC members sometimes push against Portland proposals, multiple Mayors and other members have remarked how happy they are to see us actively participating - something that has not happened for years. As a former Planning Commissioner, as well as a community advocate at Metro, my knowledge and experience on planning issues is unmatched on the current or 2013 Council. Although MPAC meetings take many evening hours twice every month, which is a significant commitment, I will ask to continue to be assigned to be the Council's delegate on MPAC. In a time of changing leadership in Portland's Mayor and potentially other key Metro leadership positions, Metro needs my firm guiding hand, as someone who works well with regional partners.
Mary Nolan Yes.
7. Given the impending effective loss of tax increment financing as the city's economic development financial tool, how do you see the future of the Portland Development Commission?
Amanda Fritz This is a hugely important question at this time. The Council is currently moving forward on a redevelopment agreement for the Rose Quarter, putting PDC in the lead. This process will explore PDC becoming an entrepreneurial organization, rather than relying on tax increment funding. I have also supported and will continue to support spending general fund dollars on economic development and supported PDC administration of those funds as well as the competitive process employed for identifying programs to fund. I support the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative as a pilot, with great potential for non-TIF funding moving forward. I will be fully involved in the process of determining the critical and appropriate role of PDC going forward, having had the experience of seeing what works, what doesn't, over the past 4 years - and many more as a neighborhood leader before that.
Mary Nolan I don't accept your premise. While diminished, TIF remains a tool that PDC can use effectively. As mentioned in my responses to your questions in the primary, I support the Education URA and oppose satellite districts that dilute the value of urban renewal investments.
8. The city of Portland has identified a significant shortfall in industrial lands, and has limited resources to restore unused lands, such as brownfields. What will be your plan to ensure there is ready land for job development in the city? And how would you be handling the current discussions regarding West Hayden Island?
Amanda Fritz We must focus on cleaning up the Willamette River Superfund and brownfield sites, in part with public money. "Limited resources" includes the impossibility of increasing the size of the landlocked Portland city boundaries, as well as the need to prioritize brownfield cleanup with both taxpayer and ratepayer dollars. Cleanup work will promote job creation, at the same time as needed environmental restoration. River restoration and brownfields clean-up/redevelopment must be part of the Comprehensive Plan. I will support development on West Hayden Island if the facts show that the new port facility is needed, economically viable, cost-effective for taxpayers, and not detrimental to the health of nearby residents. My work amending the West Hayden Island Resolution clarified expectations and set an objective 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 Major transportation facilities lie within the City (marine terminals, airport, I-5/I-84 interchange, railyards) making Portland an attractive location for expanding or locating manufacturing operations. But Portland cannot alone meet the region's need for industrial land, nor should it. I will utilize and expand my strong working relationships with partners at the Port, Metro, the state and 4 counties to identify site potential. I will support continuing forward on the negotiated compromise for development of West Hayden Island.
9. Portland has some of the highest water and sewer rates in the country, and they continue to face upward pressure. How would you manage water and sewer costs, and provide much-needed rate relief to the city's residential, business and wholesale customers?
Amanda Fritz I am the acknowledged champion on the current Council on this issue, and it will continue to be a priority for me in my second term. Water rate increases have been too high, and that has to stop. One of the things I'm most proud of during my service on the City Council is the $6 million, 6% in savings to water ratepayers that I won in 2009. Water rates are a signature issue for me. Going forward, I am committed to keeping rates as low as practical and responsible. I will ask the next Mayor to assign me one or both of the Water and Environmental Services bureaus. Making water and sewer costs manageable for Portland ratepayers will continue to be a priority in my second term.
Mary Nolan Aggressive focus on efficient operations; Advocacy for least-cost environmentally responsible option (for both drinking water and wastewater treatment); and top-notch customer service attuned to the needs of wholesale customers when they are first considering expansion or location.
10. The impending Superfund clean-up at the Portland Harbor is expected to result in substantial costs to North Portland employers and the city of Portland, potentially driving up water and sewer rates. How will you work with the impacted businesses to ensure that the harbor clean-up costs are reasonable?
Amanda Fritz The Portland Harbor Superfund site must be cleaned up effectively and thoroughly. The cleanup methodology mandates will be set by EPA, rather than being costs the City can determine and apportion. Whatever the required level of cleanup, I will watch over the process to ensure the work is done cost-effectively, collaboratively, and where practical by local companies and workers. The Council has not yet decided whether Portland's share of costs will be shouldered by ratepayers alone, or other funding strategies. I am leading the public process to discuss how Portlanders will pay for the City's obligations, and how we can promote economic development as well as environmental restoration. I created the Office of Healthy Working Rivers, a nimble group staffed with just four expert employees, to coordinate the City's approach to Superfund. My work to address this and other brownfield clean-up sites serves several purposes, including livability and job creation. I will seek input from PBA and others on how to address and mitigate challenges. I am working with the Mayor to partner with Harbor businesses on potential early cleanup work.
Mary Nolan Many potentially responsible parties have already invested significantly in evaluating the problem and planning or engineering solutions. The City should provide hands-on elected leadership to advocate at the state and federal level for scientifically based parameters that meet environmental standards and preserve the fiscal viability of harbor-based businesses who are willing to commit to ongoing Portland-based employment.
11. Businesses, large and small, and individuals tell frequent stories about the difficulties they run into while navigating Portland's complex permitting/regulatory system and they cite fees, such as system development charges, that are significantly higher than those charged in other jurisdictions. How would you redesign the city's permitting/regulatory/fee structure to make it more user-friendly?
Amanda Fritz I led the Council in achieving co-location of public works permitting staff, which has resulted in increased efficiency and speed of permitting. I supported suspending SDCs for Accessory Dwelling Units, which has stimulated construction in that niche. I will likely continue to support suspending SDCs in prescribed cases, to see if doing so stimulates construction and business expansion. It is important to recognize that System Development Charges are an important component of funding the infrastructure needed by businesses and residents. By law, the charges must be related to costs of providing new infrastructure. Portland's SDC charges are mostly lower than surrounding jurisdictions', despite our higher quality of public services. I will continue to vote to avoid unreasonable charges that are out of proportion to the impacts caused by development.
Mary Nolan I have visited with hundreds of employers, investors, property owners and builders over the last year to ask in detail what they need from City agencies in order to encourage them to expand their work force here. I have heard ideas about simplifying, rationalizing and expediting the permit and inspection systems. I'd convene a group of developers, employers, architects, neighborhood leaders, and construction trades unions and give them a short time limit to develop changes that can be implemented with the most pressing changes introduced in the first year, and supplemented every two years with refinements.
12. Small business is an incredibly important part of our local economy, but many of our small, locally owned businesses find Portland a difficult place to maintain their companies because, in addition to the other fees imposed by local government, the city and Multnomah County have local business income taxes that are levied by no other jurisdiction in the West. Will you support providing relief to small, locally owned businesses by fulfilling the city's long-time commitment to raise the owners' compensation deduction to $125,000?
Amanda Fritz Yes. As noted above, in my first term, every year I asked Mayor Adams to re-start phasing in the increased Owners Compensation Deduction to $125,000, despite ongoing overall City budget deficits. I am hopeful of achieving this goal in my second term, with a new Mayor and a recovering economy.
Mary Nolan Yes. It should be implemented as quickly as possible and should be revenue neutral.
13. Portland has one of the best downtowns in the nation, but we constantly hear from local residents and visitors who find our downtown streets unwelcoming because of the transients who are allowed to sit on sidewalks, frequently with their dogs and belongings, sometimes engaging in aggressive panhandling. How will you address this persistent livability issue? Would you support a stronger sit-lie ordinance? And do you support maintaining - and enforcing - the city's prohibition against camping?
Amanda Fritz I firmly support the current Sidewalk Management Plan. I was instrumental in reaching a solution that is working. It's not perfect, but complex solutions to significant issues rarely are. It has not been challenged in court, and it is providing a mechanism to share downtown sidewalks. All previous "stronger sit-lie" ordinances have been found unconstitutional. I continue to be the Council's lead coordinator in the issue, meeting regularly with the Sharing Public Spaces advisory group. 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. Commissioner Fish has now reached a court-mandated agreement that addresses the issue of "camping" in Portland. I will support any further options that consider downtown business needs along with the needs of people living outside to have somewhere to sleep without being harassed. I will work with all members of the incoming Council, and with the PBA and other stakeholders including people experiencing houselessness, to continue to address this issue of significant importance to all members of our Portland community. I helped resolve Cameron Whitten's hunger strike, promoting a regional summit on housing which is a needed step to solve the underlying causes of people panhandling and sleeping outside downtown - lack of affordable housing due to decreased support from the federal and state governments.
Mary Nolan I believe the interests of downtown retailers, employees, residents, shoppers, arts patrons and tourists would be best served by two approaches: 1) strengthening presence of community policing to fully enforce existing laws that already prohibit unlawful conduct, such as harassment, sidewalk obstruction and overnight camping; 2) supporting and promoting the resources and services available to Portlanders who find themselves homeless in the grips of this deep recession.
14. Public safety is a top priority for the business community, so much so that the downtown Clean & Safe District actually fully funds four police positions in our downtown core. Will you commit to, at a minimum, maintaining the number of sworn officers we have in Portland today and, over time, growing that number to a level that is more appropriate for a city of our size, in terms of the number of officers per capita? And will you support continued funding for CHIERS and the Service Coordination Team?
Amanda Fritz Yes. My first responsibility as your City Commissioner is public safety. I will continue to work on policies that address the needs of all Portland residents and businesses. Increased accountability in police officers' actions, and changes in the Bureau's culture, are necessary pre-requisites to increased funding. As the retired Registered Nurse who worked for 26 years in inpatient psychiatry, now in charge of the 9-1-1 bureau, I am the Council's lead in the interagency work to decrease tragic outcomes when police are first responders to people experiencing mental health crisis in the community. We are making significant progress. I need a second term to complete the systemic changes necessary to take care of people rather than taking them to jail -- or worse. Improvement in Hooper Detox was one of my primary priorities in the 2009-10 budget, which Mayor Adams then funded. I also pushed for construction of the Crisis Assessment and Triage Center for people experiencing mental illnesses and addictions, and I have supported funding for CHIERS and the Service Coordination Team every budget. I frequently attend SCT and Central City Concern graduations and participant celebrations. This year, I worked closely with Ed Blackburn, Central City Concern's Executive Director, to address funding to keep CHIERS and SCT running the entire year. I am working with all parties on the new Coordinated Care Management Organizations. My expertise and experience in health care will continue to be needed on the Council. I will continue to work with the County, in particular to manage the $8 million shortfall for the City if the Library District passes this fall. We will need to transfer to the County responsibility for some of the functions that the City is currently performing that are more appropriately funded by the County. CHIERS and SCT may fall into that category.
Mary Nolan I agree that public safety is a top priority for City residents and businesses alike, and I would like to commit without reservation to maintaining current sworn capacity. But if General Fund resources continue to lose buying power due to constitutional limits or pressure for tax or fee reductions, that objective may not be achievable. CHIERS and the Service Coordination Team are vitally important programs for which I support continuing funding.
15. As the city's population grows at the same time our ability to expand our existing transportation infrastructure remains limited, how will you balance the need to accommodate more trips by alternative modes of transportation while preserving access for freight and automobile mobility? Please give specific examples.
Amanda Fritz I worked with the Mayor and Chair Cogen to fund the new Sellwood Bridge, which is crucial for all modes of transportation. I remain dedicated to providing City funding for sidewalks on commercial corridors, such as those on 122nd. I supported the multimodal Powell Boulevard Plan, and safety improvements on Foster Road. As we seek to complete inadequate infrastructure and fill operational/maintenance funding gaps for freight, passenger and commercial autos, transit, pedestrians (including wheelchair users) and cyclists, we must find stable and permanent funding sources that share the costs across all who benefit from our roads and rights-of-way, rather than continuing to rely on shrinking gas tax revenues. As transit, electric vehicles, bicycles, and other modes of transportation continue to grow, the ability to maintain our existing infrastructure will become more and more difficult. All potential funding sources must be on the table for discussion, including fees, taxes, licenses, and other options. As with all public services, we need to decide together what we want to fund, and how we are willing to pay for it. I will help lead that discussion, in my second term after four years of cut budgets in which every line item has been scrubbed for efficiencies and savings. I helped find the savings. I will help find the funding.
Mary Nolan Optimize the capacity of existing streets by integrating modern design practices like human factors and driver aids to speed traffic safely; Support employers that offer flexible work schedules, vanpooling and carpooling and transit programs; and land use and zoning that helps reduce trip demand.