Mayor Sam Adams spent election night at the Portland Art Museum with a large crowd of the arts tax supporters. Adams pushed to have the $35-per-person tax placed on the ballot and was clearly pleased that it passed.
"Nobody was expecting us to win," he told the Portland Tribune as the crowd thinned out and a French pop group of singers performed. "The mainstream media said this isn't important. The bloggers said it wasn't good enough."
Adams dismissed criticism that the arts tax was regressive. "No matter what we put up, people would find something to attack," he said. "Portlanders supported innovation, creativity, and their elementary schools. We get it. It matters."
The arts tax will fund 70 music and art teachers across the six school districts in the city beginning next fall. The city has estimated it will generate $12.2 million in proceeds, $3.8 million of which will go to arts organizations. Jessica Jarratt Miller, executive director of the Creative Advocacy Network, said the initiative got its start four years ago, and blamed the media "for trying to kill it so aggressively."
"We put something out there that was reflective of the community," she says, noting that the group took several surveys of the community and found that low-income taxpayers felt $35 is "acceptable" to fund art in their children's schools.
Adams said he's prescheduled meetings with Mayor-elect Charlie Hales and second-place-finisher Jefferson Smith for Thursday, and is comfortable he made the right choice in not running for reelection.
"There's no way I could've run for re-election and delivered what I delivered in the last four years and 56 days," he said, noting his work on the arts tax and other initiatives. The biggest challenge for the next mayor, he said, is the budget.