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In my campaign for Portland City Commissioner 4, I have actively reached out to small business owners, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, unions, neighborhood associations, firefighters, police, educators, etc. to understand the issues facing our city. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Paul Knauls Sr., a well-known figure in the African American community in Portland.
Paul Knauls Sr. by Jack Kerfoot
I met Mr. Knauls at Geneva's Shear Perfection, a business he owns with his wife, Geneva. Mr. Knauls grew-up in rural Arkansas, served in the U.S. Air Force and then moved to Portland to begin a fascinating career as an entrepreneur and businessman.
In my business career, I have met and worked with tycoons, sheikhs and prime ministers around the world. However, I was nervous meeting a man who is a living legend in our city and has shared friendships with boxing great Joe Lewis and renowned celebrities like Sammy Davis, Jr.
Mr. Knauls told me, that he saw Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Sara Boone grow-up in this neighborhood. He thought she would be a role model to young women and African Americans that there is a future for them in the fire and rescue departments across our nation.
I asked Mr. Knauls his thoughts on community policing. He explained that many African Americans fear or distrust of the police. Mr. Knauls believes that community policing can build trust between the police and the community they serve.
Mr. Knauls shared a story of a young student who skipped school and took his mother's car for a drive while she was at work. He was stopped by the police for speeding. The young man didn't have a driver's license. The officer told the young man to park the car and walk home and have his mother pick up the car later. Mr. Knauls told me the word got out that this police officer was a good guy. It was clear that compassion was important to Mr. Knauls.
Over the next hour, Mr. Knauls and I discussed topics like the gentrification of northeast Portland, our homeless crisis, affordable housing, increasing traffic congestion and the difficulty of running a small business. Although he and his wife own the building for Geneva's Shear Perfection, Portland's property taxes continue to increase, relentlessly. He shared with me that the ever increasing cost to do business in Portland is making it very difficult for the barbershop to remain profitable.
Businesses, like Geneva's Shear Perfection, provide jobs and pay taxes to keep our city government running. When I hear of the struggles of small businesses like Mr. Knauls, I wonder if our Portland City Council has lost touch with what makes our community thrive.
If elected as a commissioner, I give my commitment to work with small business to ensure they continue to grow.
This article was reprinted with permission from Jack Kerfoot. Jack is a candidate for Portland Commissioner.
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