Despite much tension ahead of a vote for a new board in the Montavilla Neighborhood Association — including a declaration by "alt-right" leader Joey Gibson that he would be attending during a Sunday rally and protest — elections went off without a hitch.
Adding to the complexity of the normally-mundane neighborhood voting process, held at the Montavilla United Methodist Church, was a candidacy by Micah Fletcher, the survivor of a stabbing attack by white supremacist Jeremy Christian on a MAX train in May.
Three men tried to intervene when Christian started shouting racist rants at two young girls. Christian killed two men, while Fletcher, whose throat was cut, survived.
Christian attended a "March for Free Speech" event in Portland organized by Gibson in April prior to the attacks, but Gibson has distanced himself from Christian. Gibson never showed up to the event although there were some other alt-right activists in attendance. Someone circulated packets that included information about a few candidates' supposed connections to white nationalists.
Fletcher won a seat on the Montavilla board after giving a passionate speech to the filled-to-the-brim room. He said he doesn't have an ideology and hates politics.
"The main thing is this. [These are] our neighbors. And When I hear that all the sudden this cat fighting, dog fighting, and we are turning on one another over an ideology, something as simple as something written in a book, it's unacceptable," he said. "We're all we have, period. If you want to be a part of that and take care of each other, let's get to work."
See his whole speech:
Micah Fletcher https://t.co/8crnjVIwNz— Lyndsey Hewitt (@lyndsey_hewitt) October 10, 2017
There were 11 open seats on the Montavilla neighborhood board, while 22 people ran.
Most everyone gave passionate speeches, genuinely caring about their neighborhood in Southeast Portland (which was recently named one of the top 10 neighborhood destinations in the country by the website Lonely Planet).
Jonathan Ogden, of the Portland Assembly group, reclaimed a seat, and receiving the most votes was Amanda Rhoads, a city planner with the Bureau of Development Services.
Portland's sanctioned but completely independent neighborhood associations don't yield any governing power in the city, but do have political clout with decision makers on various issues, including development. They are all-volunteer nonprofit organizations.
The winners can be seen here, and after conducting a recount, Southeast Uplift neighborhood coalition confirmed results.
Read a previous story including back issues here.
Reporter, Portland Tribune
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