Randy Leonard


Q. What changes would you make on the Portland City Council?

A. The first thing I'd impart to employees in my bureaus is that it matters how you treat people. People are offended by how they're treated by the city, from the mayor on down. The very first day I'd bring employees together and say we'll treat people with dignity. If the word 'no' crosses your lips, you're in trouble with me.

Q. What if they ask for something the law doesn't allow?

A. Then you tell them about the appeals process, and they can try to convince a hearings officer their plan makes sense.

Q. Would you make changes in the tax structure?

A. The city business income tax is pathetically unfair, particularly to small businesses. It needs to be scrapped.

Q. Replaced with what?

A. Before I'd say what we're going to replace the money with, we'd slash administrative costs without slashing front-line services. I'm convinced the city is top-heavy. We're paying for duplication and unnecessary services.

Q. What are some examples?

A. Here's one. Both the police and fire bureaus have offices of emergency planning. They operate independent of each other and even compete against each other. Both want to be in charge in a disaster. They should be merged into one office. I'm convinced I'll find things like that throughout the system.

Q. How would you attract new jobs?

A. First, quit running jobs out of the city. We lost Columbia Sportswear because Multnomah County outbid them for the building it wanted. What ran them out finally was the insulting attitude from the city. I would have found nothing more important that day than to be sitting in on that meeting to make sure these people were treated with courtesy and respect and kept that clean, homegrown business here in the city.

Q. What do you think of the city's Healthy Portland Streams efforts?

A. It's overly broad, undefined and lacks goals. The initiative doesn't understand what it's trying to accomplish. Once again, the city would enforce a program without understanding its goals. It's overly restrictive and overly burdensome to property owners.

Q. What do we need to do?

A. This is a watershed problem, not a Portland problem. When you have cows fouling the Tualatin River and crops being sprayed in Clackamas County and Washington County, by the time the river reaches the city border, it's polluted. You don't attack it by cleaning up just the water in Portland. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the problem is before the river hits the Portland border. But not everybody in this campaign understands that.

Q. What role should the city play in the schools?

A. The schools are paying $2 million for city water and sewer. I'd immediately stop collecting that. The water bureau has a huge reserve fund. There are a number of arrows in our quiver to help schools. One is to think about it when you take businesses off the tax rolls. When you create jobs you help schools with the new tax base.

We can have local libraries built on the same grounds. Why couldn't you have a fire station below a school as part of the structure?

Q. Most of your support has come from unions. Could that be a hindrance to your effectiveness in City Hall?

A. I get a lot of support from a lot of people. Willamette Week put it best in 1999. 'Nobody pulls Randy Leonard's strings.' I keep my door open. I treat people with respect. If I'm wrong, I'll stand up and admit it.

Q. What don't people know about you?

A. I'm an ardent civil rights activist. Skip Osborne of the NAACP endorsed me. And the Black Firefighters Association was the first group to endorse me.