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Portland Tribune endorses Ted Wheeler for Portland mayor

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - State Treasurer Ted WheelerThe editorial board of the Portland Tribune endorsed State Treasurer Ted Wheeler for Portland mayor on Tuesday.

The April 26 endorsement followed an editorial board interview with six candidates for mayor last Wednesday.

In the editorial, the board said, "It’s true that Wheeler gets mixed reviews from some of those who have worked with him. His critics perceive an “I know best” attitude that they say would be troubling for someone hoping to govern a weak mayoral system. But others who have worked closely with Wheeler praise his ability to forge consensus and note that he has embraced regional collaboration, both as a former county chair and in his role as treasurer."

You can read the full endorsement at portlandtribune.com/pt/10-opinion/303515-181141-our-opinion-wheeler-clear-choice-in-crowded-field-

Candidates list Portland problems

The six candidates all agreed the city is experiencing growing pains during endorsement interviews with the editorial board of the Portland Tribune on Wednesday.

The interviews were conducted at the Tribune's TV news partner, KOIN 6, which live streamed them beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Editorial board members included Publisher Mark Garber and Executive Editor John Schrag. Reporter Jim Redden also asked questions. The Tribune will announce its endorsement in the race in coming days.

Problems described by the candidates ranged from skyrocketing housing costs to a shortage of police officers. All of them offered solutions to some of the problems. They included:

• State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who promised to open enough new homeless space to significantly decrease the number of people sleeping outdoors within the first two years of his administration.

• Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey, who said he would explore creating a regional air quality authority to reduce toxic emission if the state does not strengthen the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

• Portland State University urban research Sarah Iannarone, who said she would create a Community Trust and Policing Fund to raise money to help fund more community policing.

• Restaurant owner Bruce Broussard, who said he would crack down on rampant open drug use on Portland streets.

• Oregon Department of Justice attorney David Schor, who wants to impose an 8 percent income tax on the tax the top 1 percent of Portlanders to raise $200 million a year for affordable housing.

• Community college instructor Sean Davis, who proposed cutting system development charges for small businesses to encourage more of them to open and grow.

Although the candidates agreed on many issues –- such as the need to create more affordable housing as quickly as possible -- the disagreed on some things, too.

For example, Iannarone called on the city and county to temporarily freeze rents and end no-cause evictions. Bailey said that would violate state law against local rent control except in cases of natural or man-made disasters, however. Wheeler said he due not give legal advice, but would work with Portland legislators if the law needs to be changed.

In additional, Bailey and Wheeler both deplored the increasingly visible number of people living in tents in the Portland and promised to get them off the streets as soon as possible. Iannarone was more tolerant of the camping, however, and said there were many vacant properties in town where camps with more permanent structures could be built.

And Iannarone and Wheeler were both more cautious than Bailey about considering the creation of a new regional air quality authority.

Asked where the disagreed the most, Bailey, Iannarone and Wheeler all said on who should be mayor.

Undecided voters on fence

Three undecided voters had the opportunity to observe the interviews at KOIN 6, and, while by the end none were ready to cast their vote, they said the process helped narrow the list of choices.

The voters were Jim Braet, a small business owner; Brooke Jacobson, a retired Portland State University professor; and Rob Shinney, a counselor. All said they knew little about any of the candidates. Braet and Shinney felt the extensive news coverage of the presidential primary races was overwhelming the coverage of local races.

All three watched in a separate room at KOIN 6 as the candidates were interviewed in two groups. The first group included Broussard, Davis and Schor. The second featured Iannarone, Bailey and Wheeler.

The voters were more engaged during the second group’s discussion, nodding at answers they agreed with and laughing at the jokes. During the first they were stoic, simply sitting and absorbing the information.

All three seemed most interested with ideas for making the city more affordable. Jacobson, in particular, thought housing was an important topic for the future mayor to deal with.

Braet believes the answer to the housing problem can be found in Economics 101. He agreed with several of the candidates that there needs to be an increase in the total number of housing units, which would flood the market and lower prices. This is a method that both Bailey and Wheeler mentioned as a means to solving the problem, Braet said.

Shinney prefaced his opinions by admitting the issues are complex and that he only has a limited understanding of all the variables, but he liked Iannarone’s ideas. This was because they were “different and fresh to the other candidates,” he said. “Her ideas show how creative she is in her approach.”

Jacobson also was impressed with Iannarone’s originality.

The voters were disappointed at the end of the forum because they thought there would be an opportunity to address the candidates directly, and all three had questions they were hoping to ask. One would have been the candidates’ stance on fluoride in the water.

The Primary Election will be help on May 17. It will be won by any candidate who receives over 50 percent of the vote. Otherwise, the top two candidates will face off at the November General Election.