Council candidate Fritz talks sidewalks with locals


MULTNOMAH - The conversation quickly turned to sidewalks at this home party just off a poorly maintained gravel road in the Village. But this time, someone was here who might soon be in a position to do something about it.

Former Multnomah Neighborhood Association President Brian Russell was hosting City Council candidate Amanda Fritz for a casual Q and A at his home on 36th Avenue.

'Barbur Boulevard, for heaven's sake, doesn't have sidewalks that you can walk all the way down safely,' Fritz told the more than a dozen people assembled while detailing her belief that these 'basic public services' should be funded first.

The candidate has strong ties to the Southwest area, having raised three children in the Wilson High School system. Her first foray into politics was over a subdivision that was planned for a riparian area near her house by Portland Community College Sylvania.

Soon after that, she got on to the Portland Planning Commission, where she has sat for seven years.

When she decided to run against incumbent Dan Saltzman for his council seat in 2006, she was the first candidate to get 1,000 pledges of $5 needed to get public funding. But it was still a hard race, she said.

'I discovered that running against an incumbent is no fun whatsoever,' Fritz said. 'There is an in-crowd in Portland.'

This time around, Fritz is continuing with her positive campaign, calling her competition 'strong candidates' and refusing to single out favorites for the other city council seats up for grabs.

Fritz said her primary strategy is name-recognition in the 18-candidate throng gunning for three open council seats.

'But I don't want to go to Portland!'

Born in England, Fritz came to the States on her first summer vacation from Cambridge in 1977. She was randomly assigned to work in a kitchen at a summer camp in New Jersey, where she met her husband-to-be.

A few years later when the Fritzes were trying to decide where to put down roots, they threw in Seattle and Portland with a number of cities on the East Coast in an elaborate matrix of pros and cons. Much to their surprise, Portland came out on top.

'But I don't want to go to Portland!' Fritz recalls thinking. She and her husband moved anyway, 'and indeed it was one of the best decisions I'd ever made.'

Fritz works as a registered nurse in the psychiatric ward at Oregon Health and Sciences University, where she said she sees daily the need for mental health services and drug and alcohol treatment programs.

In one instance, a drug dealer lied to her and told her he was suicidal. He would not have been eligible to receive free drug treatment otherwise.

'And as a medical nurse, I thought that was a fine strategy,' Fritz said.

At the end of the evening, most attendees were impressed with Fritz's handle on the issues, but some were like Mari Yerger who said she's still on the fence.

'She's very impressive, Yerger said. 'But I always like to look at everyone.'

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