Why I’m running for City Council

I’ll cut right to the chase — I’m running for an at large seat on the Portland City Council again this year.

Our campaign last year was the first to talk about gentrification and the first to really focus on the the affordable housing crisis.

It was the first to not only suggest that government can be more transparent, but to show how it can be more transparent with an online, interactive city budget tool.

The first to show Portlanders a more democratic way to make budget decisions, with Participatory Budgeting.

The first to refuse campaign donations from PACs, from out-of-state bundlers, from companies and corporations, and from real estate developers.

The first to propose a municipal clean elections program, modeled on successful programs from other cities.

We didn’t win, but we changed the conversation. We seeded new ideas. And we changed how people thought about their City Council.

This year will be no different — except, we’re going to win this time.

This year I am running for the seat that Councilor Nicholas Mavodones has held since 1997. I have a lot of respect for Councilor Mavodones — he has given over two decades of his life to serve this community.

But in 1997, I was in seventh grade and Bill Clinton was President. I think we can all agree that a lot has changed since then.

We face challenges today that we never could have imagined back then, whether it’s climate change or the opioid crisis or affordable housing, “the way we’ve always done things” is no longer working.

That’s why I’ve decided to run again. Not because I’m trying to build a cushy career in politics, or because I want to climb the political ladder. No, because rents are still rising, and good people are being forced to leave our city every single day.

Because more people overdose on our city’s streets every year.

Because we have a growing homelessness crisis.

Because climate change is here, and we must act.

Because there has not been an openly gay person on the Portland City Council in over a decade.

Because getting money out of politics is just as important here in Portland as it is in Augusta and Washington.

Because we face unprecedented challenges, and it will take new leadership, new ideas, and new energy to solve them.

I will be prepared on the first day of my term to meet these challenges with new ideas and new solutions:

  • I have extensively studied the affordable housing crises affecting cities across our country.
  • I worked to save the India Street Public Health clinic and needle exchange, which the City of Portland (and Councilor Mavodones) wanted to close in the midst of the opioid epidemic.
  • I have worked with local climate action groups to reduce our carbon footprints and mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • In 2017 I served on the Maine Democratic Party’s Platform Committee and chaired the subcommittee that looked at the economy and the environment.
  • I have experienced discrimination as a gay man. I have started my own business. I have been a renter and a landlord in Portland.
  • I have seen old friends leave Portland because they can no longer afford the rent. I have met grandmothers who had to choose between paying their taxes, or buying food or medications.
  • I have had loved ones struggle with drugs, food insecurity, and homelessness.

I love this city. And I will work as hard as I can to make sure the people of this city — my friends, my family, my neighbors, everyone — are healthy, happy, and housed.

We came close last year: after knocking on thousands of doors and having thousands of conversations, we won Districts 1 and 2 — the Peninsula of Portland. This year I look forward to talking more with all the residents of Portland, and I’m confident that — together — we will win this time.

Over the next six months, our campaign will try to reach every single voter in the city of Portland — whether that’s in person at their door, or online, or at the church the synagogue or mosque, or at some of the special events we’re going to hold.

It’s my goal to show Portlanders a new way of governing, a more transparent way, a more participatory way, a more effective way.

We’ve all had enough with the dysfunction on the Portland City Council — I am confident that my approach to collaborative leadership and my commitment to transparency and public participation — will help the Council overcome some of its internal disagreements, and lead us all to a more equitable and sustainable city.

It’s about time Portland has a Councilor who will pursue a truly progressive agenda, from top to bottom.

I hope I can have your support. Thank you.