Sparks flew during the City Club of Portland debate between Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and challenger Mingus Mapps on Friday.
Eudaly repeatedly criticized Mapps for being endorsed by the Portland Police Association, claiming the police union was the greatest obstacle to police reform. After Mingus said it was important that he help negotiate the next police contract, Eudaly strongly disagreed.
"You're their man," Eudaly said.
Mapps pushed back hard, however, saying that the racial justice movement is largely about how police treat Black men like him.
"Racial justice is about how police treat people who look like me. If you want to change how police treat Black men, you have to put Black men at the table," Mapps said.
Eudaly was much more critical than Mapps of the actions of the police during the ongoing racial justice protests, however, accusing them of committing most of the late-night violence.
Later in the debate, Mapps accused Eudaly of mismanaging the Office of Community and Civic Life, which she oversees. He brought up a memo released by the City Ombudsman Margie Sollinger in August which said he had received an "extraordinary" number of complaints from employees about the working conditions there — and suggesting that an independent review of the situation authorized by Eudlay was being undermined by the office's management.
"What's happening in your bureau?" Mapps asked.
Eudaly replied that some employees have filed unfounded personnel complaints and then gone to the ombudsman when they were not upheld. She said the independent review is still underway, and accused City Auditor Mary Hull Cabellero, who oversees the ombudsman, of allowing her office to become "politicized."
As expected, much of the debate concerned Eudaly's relationship with the Portland's 95 neighborhood associations. Eudaly upset many association leaders and members when she appeared to support reducing their role in the city's civic engagement process during a project to increase the involvement of community-based organizations.
Although Eudaly repeatedly insisted she was not intending to reduce the influence of the neighborhood associations, she put the project onhold after failing to convince a majority of the council to support it. She defended her intentions again during the debate, but Mapps accused her of not listening to them and working to help them become more inclusive if that is a problem.
Eudaly and Mapps also agreed on a number of issues, including that all levels of government must do more to end homelessness and that more city resources need to be invested in East Portland.
The debate was co-sponsored by the Pamplin Media Group and moderated by Managing Editor Dana Haynes.
Since being elected to the council in 2016, Eudaly has emerged as its most vocal tenants' advocate, successfully pushing for a series of renter protections, including requiring landlords to pay relocation expensions for tenants evicted without cause or who choose to move if the rent is raised.
Mapps is a former university professor who also has worked for Multnomah County, Portland Public Schools and the Office of Community and Civic Life.
Eudaly is facing Mapps in the runoff election because no candidate received more than 50% of the vote in the May 11 primary election. Eudaly received 31% and Mapps received 28%, barely edging out former Mayor Sam Adams for second place.
This is the second time Eudaly has been in a runoff election. She was first elected to the council by placing second in the May 2016 primary election against incumbent Commissioner Steve Novick, then defeating him in the November general election.
Both campaigns are being financed in part by the city's Open and Accountable public campaign finance program. It reports that Mapps has raised $181,106 in small contributions and qualified for $374,946 in matching funds. Eudaly has raised $76,920 and qualified for $210,403 in matching funds.
The City Club was unable to secure the services of an American Sign Language interpreter for the debate.
Additional questions and answers from the debate will be posted online in the future.
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