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I Stand With Portland's Neighborhood Associations

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Portland's Neighborhood Associations
By Jack Kerfoot


On November 14, 2019, I gave the following testimony to the Portland Office of Community & Civic Life, Committee 3.96 in support of the Neighborhood Associations.


"What is a neighborhood?" I would say a neighborhood is that alliance among residents to "care" together, whether a property-owner or a renter-resident.


My name is Jack Kerfoot - I'm a scientist, author and a Portlander, and I am concerned about the recent actions taken by the Office of Community & Civic Life that have created division, where none needed to exist.


I firmly support increasing civic participation of all residents, including those who identify with historically marginalized communities. However, I strongly disagree that civic participation will be increased by eviscerating Neighborhood Associations as was proposed by the original 3.96 draft ordinance.


As you consider convening a new committee to assess the place of Neighborhood Associations in code, you should make sure those very neighborhood associations have a seat at the table, unlike the last committee. The representatives must be genuinely representative of the city's neighborhoods, not hand-selected advocates whose views align with the commissioner's.


I encourage you to maintain the basic framework of neighborhood associations. They should have the ability to weigh in officially on development and council activities. They also should adhere to basic standards of transparency so that all residents can participate. Then add to the system. Diverse organizations should have similar access. This should be an additive process.


Neighborhood Associations are an essential element of local democracy given Portland's unique form of government, where elected officials do not represent certain regions of our city.


I am very concerned by the divisive and polarizing approach to increase civic participation. I came here tonight, not as a candidate for City Commissioner, Position 4, but as a concerned resident who supports the city's internationally recognized neighborhood association system.


Listening and Collaboration are Essential for Effective Government. "Division" is the last thing we need in Portland. The name-calling or stereotyping of any group is just wrong. This is our city - it belongs to all residents - let's not forget that. Thank you."


This article was reprinted with permission from Jack Kerfoot. Jack is a candidate for Portland Commissioner.


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