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I had the opportunity to participate in the Grey Panthers Candidates Forum at the Chit Chat Cafe on October 6, 2019. The forum provided state and city candidates an opportunity to discuss their platform for the May 19, 2020 Primary.
Portland - Unicorns and Rainbows? Candidate Forum
By Jack Kerfoot
I was surprised to hear many candidates focus on their valuable community service and not address the deeply concerning issues that I see in our city. I began to wonder if people think Portland is a city of unicorns and rainbows.
A few candidates did share their concerns with our city and more importantly, presented potential solutions. As I listened to the other candidates, I kept thinking, "Why am I running for Portland City Commissioner 4?" When my time to address the crowd, I said - "Why am I running? Over the last few years, I have become increasingly concerned with our City Council. Before deciding to run for Commissioner, I spent the past two months meeting with various community leaders and residents to simply listen to ensure that I was informed and educated on the issues, that many feel are not being addressed.
I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood in Oklahoma, worked minimum wage jobs to save for university, served with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam and then worked my way through university to earn my degree in Geophysics.
Today, I am a scientist, author and renewable energy advocate. I have spent a lifetime traveling the world, working with diverse cultures, while leading multi-million-dollar projects. So, as I looked at the challenges of Portland - after listening to many-I thought, if not me, then who?
My commitment to you is be a Commissioner who comes to each of your neighborhoods regularly, not remain locked in City Hall. I commit to you, that each month I will have open forums, away from City Hall-to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. I want to be your informed voice in City Hall.
Four issues have been repeatedly raised during my listening campaign:
1. ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION
Develop, measure & report plan for our city to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2035 & zero carbon emissions by 2045. Stop the import of oil from the tar sands in Canada to the Zenith Oil export terminal along the Willamette River in Portland.
2. SAFE STREETS & MOTORWAYS
Address sex trafficking in the Portland metropolitan area, which target runaway and homeless youth. Apply proven technology, like traffic cameras to reduce pedestrian, bike and vehicle fatalities.
3. COMPASSION & COLLABORATION TO AID THE HOMELESS
Collaborate with nonprofits and religious organizations to optimize the impact of financial and human resources to help our homeless residents.
4. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY
City government should be accountable that all project cost estimates are accurate and are completed on budget and on time."
I concluded by referencing my campaign website at jackkerfoot2020.com and asking people to share their thoughts with me.
I will be continuing my outreach campaign with various community leaders and residents to simply listen to ensure that I was informed and educated on the issues of our city.
Listening and Collaboration Are Essential for Effective Government
This article was reprinted with permission from Jack Kerfoot. Jack is a candidate for Portland Commissioner.
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