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A few City Council candidates for one seat in particular troop out to Southeast for a public forum

DAVID F. ASHTON - Portland City Council Position #4 candidates Alyssa Vinsonhaler, Mingus Mapps, and Jack Kerfoot await their introductions at the Candidate Forum recently held for Southeast Portland in Lents. Other then-announced candidates for the seat chose not to appear. The incumbent Portland City Council Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, holding Council Position #4, will be facing numerous candidates in the May 19 Portland City Primary Election this year.

Three leading contenders for the seat – Jack Kerfoot, Mingus Mapps, and Alyssa Vinsonhaler – came to a "Candidate Forum" hosted by the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association (LNLA) at the Community Connection's Center on Mt. Scott on January 9. Two other announced candidates for Council Seat #4 – Robert MacKay and Keith Wilson, as well as Chloe Eudaly herself – did not appear.

The LNLA's David Potts welcomed some 35 attendees to the evening's meeting. "This is not a debate," he said – "But, instead, an opportunity for each of the candidates to introduce themselves and take questions from our neighbors, and many neighbors who came this evening from Inner Southeast Portland."

The candidates speak

THE BEE interviewed each of the three candidates who appeared.

Candidate Jack Kerfoot told us he had retired a couple of years ago from the energy industry, continues to be an advocate for renewable energy, and wrote and self-published a book called "Fueling America, an Insider's Journey".

"Quite candidly, I decided to run for office because I've become increasingly concerned about the direction of our city. Issues of concern are the homeless crisis; no action regarding the renewable energy, or energy program whatsoever; and violence on the streets."

He added that he's also concerned about "fiscal irresponsibility" at City Hall. "When you talk about [as much as] 400% cost overruns, like we have on the reconstruction of City Hall; and a $500 million [water filtration] treatment plant that now is going to cost $850 million because 'we forgot to include the cost for the pipes' – this is important."

Having spent more than 20 years overseas, Kerfoot remarked, "And working with a diverse groups of people and cultures from around the world, I believe Portland will benefit of my experience. I was sent in to turn around underperforming businesses; and this is how I see Portland. Our City government is underperforming."

Kerfoot said that, of the four seats available, he chose to run for Portland City Council Position #4, because "I'm specifically concerned about Commissioner (Chloe) Eudaly, who has maintained an anti-police position for quite some time. We need the best and the brightest in our police force; and one of the reasons we have [so few applicants] is that they don't feel there is any support from the City Council."

During the forum Kerfoot told the group, "I'm a frequently asked why I'm running for office, and am asked, 'Are you crazy?' The response that I give is to ask another question: Are you satisfied with what Portland is doing in terms of the homeless crisis, safe streets, our environment, fiscal discipline, and responsive government? What I hear back is resounding 'no', as a reply." Learn more about this candidate by visiting his website – jackkerfoot2020.com

The second candidate at the forum, Mingus Mapos, PhD, began by stating, "This is an important election; truly something unique is happening here in Portland: Four of the five City Council seats are up for election. What is clear is that, as our city goes forward after the election, it will be new and different."

Mapps said he had "three compelling reasons" for running for office.

"First, I love Portland, and I'm concerned about the direction that our city is going; [for example] the 'war against the neighborhood associations' is insane.

"Secondly, I'm a dad; and I'm worried about the city that my children will grow up in, and wondering if my children be able to afford to live here – or if they'll even want to live in Portland."

His last reason, Mapps said in an after-forum interview with THE BEE, "is that I have a background that can make a real difference. I have BA in political science from Reed College, and a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University. I have split my career between being a political scientist and a public servant."

He went on to say that he's worked with the City of Portland's Crime Prevention Program, was a Program Coordinator for Portland's neighborhood association system, served as Executive Director of the Historic Parkrose Prosperity Initiative; as well as having served on the Boards of non-profit organizations.

Asked about his position on the value of city-recognized neighborhood associations and local business districts, Mapps replied, "I am a huge fan of Portland's neighborhood associations and neighborhood business associations – and I have deep roots in both of those communities.

"That's why I oppose Commissioner Eudaly's plans to change Portland's neighborhood and business associations systems; her plan solves no problems, but creates a lot of new ones. [If elected] I will end City Hall's wars against neighborhood associations, and call to reboot the code change process, with a new focus on creating a code that promotes healthy neighborhoods and vibrant business districts." Learn more about this candidate by visiting his website – www.mingusmapps.com

Before the forum began, THE BEE asked the third candidate appearing at the Lents forum why she chose to go up against an entrenched Portland City Commissioner. Alyssa Vinsonhaler replied, "From 2016 to 2020, it seems that Portland has become a completely different city that the one I've grown up in."

Vinsonhaler described herself as a "Second Amendment activist in Portland; a U.S. Army veteran, a Cavalry Scout with the 101st Airborne Division, trans gender, and a proud member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation."

"After I enlisted in the military, I returned from service and was really disappointed to find the city that I love turning into something almost unrecognizable," commented Vinsonhaler. "Our roads and sidewalks [are] falling into states of disrepair; I drive all over Portland and see lots of potholes, and I and my friends have tripped on sidewalks that are broken and busted. They're supposed to be being repaired, but I don't see much evidence of a benefit from our 'Fix Our Streets' tax.

"Another issue is roving bands of angry mobs downtown; I think this is absolutely ridiculous in the city that I grew up in. Here, in the city I love, I can't believe that they go around beating people – that's just really wrong.

"And, as of right now, I am the first – and only – 'trans woman of color' to run for office; I think that's pretty cool," Vinsonhaler said. "Yeah, it's time for change." Find out more about this candidate by visiting her website: alyssaforportland.com

Breaking news: Sam Adams enters the race

Although it had been rumored that former Portland Mayor Sam Adams was interested in again seeking election to the Portland City Council, it came to many as a surprise that, on January 15th, he filed election documents to run for Council Position #4.

Speculation had been that Adams would instead run for the seat vacated by the passing of Commissioner Nick Fish.

To learn more about the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association, the sponsor of the candidates' forum for Southeast Portland, find out more by visiting them online on Facebook – www.facebook.com/groups/1653513341349731


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