District 2 City Counsel Forum Wednesday, March 6, 2024 

Submitted by C. Santiago​

Twelve candidates for District 2 City Council assembled at St. Johns Church on N. Richmond Ave. Wednesday evening. The candidates were asked several questions regarding the most significant issues on resident’s minds. Subjects that were discussed included homelessness crises and camps, affordable housing, illegal drugs, crime, bottle drop, police response, wages, emergency preparedness issues, and environmental concerns, especially concerning the Critical Energy Infrastructure (CEI) Hub known as “the tanks” on the waterfront. Facilitator Shamus Lynsky did a remarkable job of keeping candidates within the allotted 2-minute response time and ending by 8:30pm. No candidate came across as particularly remarkable from any other, as they all shared similar concerns about the issues in District 2. Some candidates even replied “ditto” to their predecessor in the line of questioning. Debbie Kitchin appeared to be well known and respected by the majority of the population. UAW member Jonathan Tasini’s answers came out strong and confident. Mariah Hudson appeared to have much more of a plan than could be conveyed in a 2-minute response time. James Armstrong said he brings the “white male prospective” but is excited about diversity. Candidate Elana Pirtle-Guiney was confident and conveyed that she was “ready to hit the ground running.” Candidate John Middleton, regarding environmental concerns surrounding any future requests for permits on additional pipelines and CEI tanks, is quoted as saying, “I will vote h*ll no”. Audience questions included : 1. What are your policy plans for guiding the lifecycle of temporary housing solutions for the unhoused? 2. Do you have a strategy for getting people into permanent housing? Candidate responses included Brooklyn Sherman stating he would like lower caps on rent increases, stronger renter rights, and a freeze on property taxes so that rent increases are not as necessary. Temporary housing, we need to address having temporary housing solutions being run by local organizations, and they need to be spread to all areas of Portland and not just North Portland. Some quotes by Mariah Hudson : “The number one reason for the homeless crisis is that housing is unaffordable, or people have come into a life crisis.” “Portland has underinvested in housing. By building more housing, that is the way we are going to long term address the structural deficit in the number of homes needed. “​ Alana Pirtle-Guiney : Housing affordability is a wage issue. Pirtle-Guiney gave a nod to UAW candidate Jonathan Tasini for stating it just moments prior. We have to address wages as we address housing. Not instead of but as we address housing. There are many solutions to homelessness, but people need stability to be able to do anything else. “Homelessness isn’t a right now issue, it is an always issue.” Debbie Kitchin also addressed wages, but then mentioned there are 8 different bureaus for housing that need to be coordinated. (Apparently, they do not communicate with each other.) “We have built affordable housing and shelters. We now need to work on preventing homelessness.” James Armstrong : Communication from the city needs to change. “Task sites are successful but are not the answer. They are far more expensive than building a full sustainable system for supportive services.” Mark Koller : “The $650 million housing bond you all voted for not a single unit was ever… It didn’t take a single person off the streets. It went to developers; it went to the big banks. I would like the creation of a municipal bank so the resources we are spending go to us and not big developers and big banks.” Although all candidates appeared genuine and polite, there was one consensus all could agree on, the Council of the previous administration created one heck of a hill for these potential leaders to climb. As the competition heats up and more candidates step forward, this race is sure to lose some of its congeniality.