Portland City Council candidate Chad Leisey answers OPB’s questions

By Rebecca Ellis (OPB)
May 9, 2022 9 a.m.

OPB asked all the candidates seeking a seat on Portland City Council to answer some questions about the issues. Below are answers from Chad Leisey, a candidate for position 3, currently held by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. These answers have not been edited.

Brief biography:


I owned and operated my own company with roughly 50 employees for 15 years. I had a life long dream of becoming a commercial pilot, so I gave my company away to a employee that was working for me for 10+ years (gave, Means for free). I went to college to pursue a bachelors degree in aviation. During the time of owning my business I was a volunteer firefighter for 8.5 years and also left the department while a full time student. Currently, I am a branch manager overseeing operations in Oregon and southern Washington for a nationwide company.

Why are you running for City Council? What relevant experience do you have?

The city has a communication issue. The current leaders have no one willing to guide the commissioners and the community to a set of agreed upon goals. I believe this is a problem caused by lack of communication and bringing people together to discuss the issues we face. My current and past business roles ate to repair failing branches and make the profitable again. The only way to achieve this goal is with an open line of communication, an open door policy and the willingness to bring everyone together from the bottom all the way to the top. I alone can not pick up a 2-ton boulder but as a team or community we can move an entire mountain. I am willing to listen to the community and bring my own ideas to the table. I do not have an agenda and will remain open to everyone’s ideas.

What bureaus do you want to run? Why do you think you’re the person to oversee them?

I would like to run the fire and police bureaus. My experience as a volunteer firefighter and the training along side of the sheriffs department in the county is why I think I would do well in these departments. I have also done volunteer work to help in the training of police and state troopers while a volunteer firefighter. Both of these departments work out in the field with each other daily.

Are there any bureaus you do not want?

No, I am willing to do whatever it takes to better the life of all of us. I would like to be able to have the opportunity to spend time out in the field on all bureaus. In fact I would like to spend at least a week with every department doing the physical work and here what the employees want and need.

What is one concrete action you would take immediately upon entering office to reduce the number of people living on the street?

My number one step is to bring the leaders of every volunteer group together with the city and county commissioners to come up with a game plan everyone can agree to and set a timeline with goals. The group should be required to meet every week rather than every other month or more. I would also like to include people they the community. Currently the lack of communication is killing any hope of a solution.


If the city were to increase shelter supply, would you support requiring people living outside to move into shelters?

Yes. I believe in a tuff love approach. First we need a game plan to where we are going to house people. Once there are facilities built to send people there needs to be a 100% ban on street camping, starting with the downtown area.

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?

This is a loaded question in my opinion. I am hesitant to say yes because I do believe this will cause blame to be pushed onto a city manager rather than the council members / currently commissioners for their lack of responsibility. But the current form of government has been failing due to the commissioner’s unwillingness to work with each other. I believe the form of government could still work if we the people voted people willing to work together and communicate fully with each other and the community alike. This should be the job of the mayor to bring everyone together but we all see how that’s going!

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?

I’m not sure if this was really a policy, but defunding the police department was a massive mistake. I would have worked with the police union and people throughout the community alongside the cities legal council to create policies holding police and their officials accountable for actions. Along with creating a direct line for officers and the community to have much more interaction. I am a believer of officers having to reside in the neighborhoods they serve and must be spending a set amount of time each month going door to door at businesses building relationships with the community. There is so so much that can be done to earn each others trust. I have a whole plan to build relationships amongst the community and all bureaus.

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?

Yes I do. I have a whole plan set out to improve the communication and the relationships city wide. As a volunteer firefighter we would go to every school in October for fire prevention month and visit every classroom. Firefighters look scary in their uniforms with oxygen masks on. We did this to educate children and also make sure they are not scared while in a fire to approach us. I believe most children do not get any type of interaction with police officers unless it’s a bad situation they are put in. We should make it a priority to build relationships with the community by involvement. There is so much more that needs done but this could be one of the first steps. I also strongly believe in body cameras that are completely unrestricted from the view of the public. Body cameras should be worn at all time while interacting with the public. Body cameras help protect the community and the officers alike. We should also require police officers to reside in the neighborhoods they work, this give officers a sense of being part of the neighborhood they patrol. Whole officers are patrolling their designated neighborhoods, they should be required to walk the streets and visit local businesses for a designated amount of time each month. Relationships and communication are keys to success, if Sara feels like she is friendly with the police officer that handed her their card, she will call them when she sees Johnny down on the corner with a gun in his pants. Until there is a line of communication and respect amongst officers and the community we will get nowhere. I have many more ideas on police reform and community involvement, but my ideas are just that. I want to bring them to the table with a large group of different people throughout the community and set a goal we all want. I do not and will never have my own agenda, I want to know what the people want and go with the majority.

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 and rising gun violence should be the top priorities no matter what. People should not be dying in the streets, especially not being shot dead while waiting in line for food.

What do you think the city could do to speed up the construction of affordable housing?

We have 2.5 billion that is being collected by the tax payers over the next 10 years. One thing to fast track this is cutting the red tape and reducing the amount of money that is being wasted on administrative fees. I can not help but to feel like the current city leaders are more interested in making their friends rich with these funds instead of helping people in need. To put it clear, you can buy a beautiful home that comes in a foldable box for 50k that is fully furnished with appliances. These unfold in a few hours and ready to live in. After prepping space and running utilities we could set up over 20,000 of these with the 2.5 billion dollars. That’s a lot of homes that will last a lifetime. There are a lot of options, we just need a plan and someone willing to stick to a plan.

What can be done to make Portland’s roads safer?

Maintenance. Proper city wide maintenance would be the first step to safer road ways. Currently the focus is in wealthy neighborhoods and lacking strongly on lower income areas. This is a bias that needs to end…