...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004
      ( 3:46 PM )
Excited Again

As you may or may not have noticed, my excitement about activism specifically for a political candidate retreated markedly after Dean left the presidential race. I'm not interested much in working for Kerry. I'm still waiting to see what his new national organization is going to offer, and I'm still in regular touch with my Dean buddies here in Portland. But today I got excited about working for a candidate again. This time it's for Portland's mayoral race. Only my Portland readers will probably be interested in this, but it's a great underdog-who-can-really-change-things story.

I'm going to campaign for Tom Potter for Portland Mayor. There are a lot of things I still have to learn about Tom and his campaign, but there are a few very important things that made me decide early on that he is my candidate. Our mayoral primary is on May 18. Most likely it will be a run-off election. Tom's main opponent, Jim Fransesconi, while a democrat and veteran Portland politico, is in my opinion in the pocket of all the business interests of this city and has not made very many good choices in the last few months in his role as a Portland City Commissioner.

Tom Potter is a former police chief and is still beloved by both the rank and file members of the force and by the community in which he worked. He is known for his social and community awareness and his work with various causes in Portland. He is also known for taking courageous stands. Good examples of this courage are his outspoken stance in support of civil rights and equality in marriage, and also his campaign promise not to accept any donation over $25 from an individual donor. This last thing is huge. He is determined that if he will win, it will be because he represents the issues and the people - not because he can win 650,000 votes with $1 million.

But there is one key difference: Francesconi, a six-year
city commissioner, is well on his way to being the first
million-dollar candidate in the history of Portland city
government--an eye-popping distinction that is causing
a mixture of astonishment and revulsion even among
his fellow commissioners at City Hall. For many, he
has become the poster child for campaign-finance reform.

In Potter, meanwhile, we have what voters say they
want: a qualified candidate who can't be bought.


Potter, for his part, thinks this race is proof that
something is wrong: "Something has changed in
our society where money has become the driving
issue for candidates, instead of their qualifications
to hold office."


Others, however, think Francesconi has done favors
for contributors. His campaign reports are rife with
contributions from prominent members of the
influential Portland Business Alliance--such as
$10,000 from real-estate investor Melvin "Pete"
Mark. That's why the commissioner's opposition in
January 2003 to a resolution against the invasion
of Iraq raised so many eyebrows. In explaining
his position at a council meeting, Francesconi
repeated almost word for word the text of a letter
he'd received from the PBA opposing the resolution
--this just days after he'd joined in a march to
protest the invasion.

So this is just my notice that Tom Potter is my new candidate and I will be doing everything I can to get him elected. To my local readers, I encourage you to check him out. We need change in this town as much as this country needs it. It's time that our mayor was more interested in the communities, neighborhoods and people of Portland more than being interested in big business and developing us out of existence. Vote Tom Potter for Mayor!

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