OPB asked all the candidates seeking a seat on Portland City Council to answer some questions about the issues. Below are answers from Avraham Cox, a candidate for position 2, currently held by Commissioner Dan Ryan. These answers have not been edited.
I was born in Portland, and spent three of my first six years living in Israel, where we moved back here. I was apart of the public school system until 5th grade, where I had behavioral problems. I was pulled out, before returning to the public system in 7th grade. I later went on to enter Benson, majored in electrical, and graduated in 2020, at the height of the covid pandemic. It is not some glorious life or a life of struggle but it is mine.
Why are you running for City Council? What relevant experience do you have?
The reason I’m running is a combination of frustration and a belief that common sense needs to be present for a functional government. Unfortunately, unlike some of my opponents who can claim prior experience with homeless shelters, or managing massive teams, I’m simply someone who just want to help with the most efficient impact I can. I am intelligent, and have a decent work ethic however.
What bureaus do you want to run? Why do you think you’re the person to oversee them?
I don’t believe a single person should run a bureau in it’s entirety, that is just asking for problems. Instead, there should be a two person system, where one primarily runs the office or bureau in question and a second, more level headed one would veto any ideas that would be poor in execution or effect. I do not care what groups I run, so long as it do my part. I do however want to create a new municipal owned service that would provide both cellular and internet for cheaper that what is present rates in Portland.
Are there any bureaus you do not want?
I don’t believe that any bureau stands out as necessarily bad, all of them are necessary in their own ways, ways that the average voter probably don’t even think of. But i would be happy just doing my part.
What is one concrete action you would take immediately upon entering office to reduce the number of people living on the street?
An immediate action would be to gather experts in various fields from human phycology to the study of homeless populations to economics in order to come up with a far more concrete and air-tight solution, as I personally believe that there is no solid idea that would allow for immediate improvements in the city of Portland Oregon. Aside from saying, ‘kick em all out’ but that is already cruel when most of them are people who simply can’t get by. Most people believe that the homeless are all drug addicts, when the drug addicts make up a vocal minority.
If the city were to increase shelter supply, would you support requiring people living outside to move into shelters?
Only in certain scenarios, as forcing people into shelters takes away their right to self determine. The certain scenarios include, if weather bellow freezing is likely, where people can and will die to overexposure, individuals require mental or physical health help, or someone requires rehabilitation for drug addiction.
The charter commission is currently in the process of reviewing and making recommendations to Portland’s charter. Do you support changing the form of government? Why or why not? What specific changes would you support or recommend?
The current system is a commissioner system that isn’t the most ideal for one of the largest cities in the United States of America. It is more ideal for a city a third or even half the size of Portland. A new system would allow for more people to have an active role in higher spots of government, but would also allow for a different kind of corruption that what is likely prevalent now. But the ultimate decision would be up to the general population.
Name a policy the council adopted in the last four years that you disagreed with. Why did you feel that way? What would you have done differently?
The lack of active investigation is proper handling of the homeless and the police. The council hasn’t actually done much when it comes to the homeless crisis other than set up six safe spots, two of which were condemned to be unsafe. Not only that but the Police training hasn’t been revamped to include more modern issues, and most still think of the shoot first mentality.
Racial justice protesters and advocates have called for years to dramatically reform the Portland police bureau. Do you believe changes need to be made to the police? If so, what are they?
Well, the position I am running for does not have direct control over the police but I can give you an answer to what I may do. First, I would do an audit of the past decade to see if there is any finical discrepancies in any departments. Next, I would have anyone who is acting questionably while on the clock, determining who is abusing their power and who isn’t. Following that, i would add three months to police training to include more modern and humane training for cadets in order to more peacefully resolves most instances.
Poll after polls shows the electorate is furious with city leaders for a wide variety of issues - trash, homelessness, rising crime. Which of the many problems Portland faces do you see as a priority for your first term in office?
Homelessness, it is fundamentally linked to almost all of Portland’s problems even in minor ways. If we reduce homelessness, less people would be robbed by opportunists that would make use of the chaos to make a few bucks. The amount of garbage would also be reduced, allowing for a cleaner looking Portland. Less money would be diverted to keeping people who live on the streets alive, and more would go towards education or smaller medical facilities, allowing for a healthier Portland as well.
What do you think the city could do to speed up the construction of affordable housing?
Well, the obvious solution would be to expand known city limits, allow more building permits at cheaper prices, rewrite preexisting law that prohibits certain types of housing, increase the usage of apartment complexes, give out incentives to construction companies, monetary or otherwise, or just some combination of all five.
What can be done to make Portland’s roads safer?
Make sure any funds coming in for the roads are closely guarded, to not allow embezzlement, and that roads are built to withstand hotter weather.