OPB asked all the candidates seeking a seat on Portland City Council to answer some questions about the issues. Below are answers from Dale Hardt, a candidate for position 3, currently held by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. These answers have not been edited.
I am a humble laborer here to serve the people.
Why are you running for City Council? What relevant experience do you have?
I am running to stop the practice of letting our citizens sleep on the streets. I have no formal experience but I can solve the street camping crisis immediately. I am running because this is not the time for another politician. Our system of government is broken and any candidate entering as a politician is doomed to the same failures that got us here. People will sleep on our streets until the people take charge of the situation. I am here to serve the people.
What bureaus do you want to run? Why do you think you’re the person to oversee them?
All of them. If I get placed in office it will mean the end of all non-essential city business. Every bureau will be standing ready in the task of relocating street campers safely to city owned property. They will respond equally efficiently to any request made upon them by any council member or the mayor. For my short term of office every council member will take on the street camping crisis accepting equal responsibility for any successes or failures. For my term of office the city of Portland will stand as one, on the streets, helping relocate the street campers and insuring they are safe and in the cities care.
Are there any bureaus you do not want?
There are 4 primary classes of street campers: Low Income, Mentally Challenged, Drug Addicted, and Families/Youth. All will be addressed personally by the city council, they will be addressed immediately, and they will be humanely cared for. Of those four groups I think the hardest to resolve will be the mentally challenged. That is the one I would not want.
What is one concrete action you would take immediately upon entering office to reduce the number of people living on the street?
I would shut down city hall and with the mayor and other members of the council move our offices to the street. Gather crews from the bureau pools, and begin moving the street campers to one of the 74 sites already approved for this purpose. The action would begin when I take office and end when every street camper is relocated and under the supervision of the city council. This has been declared an emergency. ALL NON ESSENTIAL BUSINESS MUST END UNTIL OUR CITIZENS ARE ACKNOWLEDGED AND PROVIDED WITH A SAFE SPACE TO SLEEP.
If the city were to increase shelter supply, would you support requiring people living outside to move into shelters?
Absolutely. But nobody wants to live on the sidewalk without services where they are unwanted. It is the most undignified way a person can live. It is desperation. Offer them a clean space with basic services like any true campsite. Offer that and then add more comforts as they become available. Do it without judgement or unnecessary regulations. Let them come with their friends. Encourage them toward self government. Most people wont have to be forced to do anything. Reach out your hand and they will take it. This is not complicated. Ask for their help and miracles will happen.
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?
It is in all of my prayers. Portland is a great city with a heart of gold. It needs a leader. One voice to speak for the people and obey them. Every one of our current council members are neighbors or friends. They are Portlanders. They are doing the best that they can with a broken system. Unfortunately, we cannot sit back and wait for the process to be fixed. There are people sleeping on our streets this very moment. The crisis is real and it is huge. It has become to big for any five people to resolve alone. If I am sent to work it will be with the people at my back. I cannot get there alone. But if we all go together and stand in unity there will be nothing that can stand in our way. We are Portlanders and we can no longer ignore our responsibilities as citizens of this glorious City of Roses.
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?
Defunding the police was a critical error but it is done now. For the next few years Portland will belong to the criminals. Every home, car, and business will be at risk. So will we. We need to recognize that fact and move forward with caution. This will get much worse before it gets better. But again the people are the answer. We need to take responsibility for our property. We need to rely less on the police. The new Street Response teams are the path for today while we reinforce our police force. People without guns is exactly what Portland needs right now. And community involvement.
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?
They have already begun. We learn as we go and constantly improve on what we are doing. Yes, changes have to be made. We need absolute transparency if we can ever trust our police force again.
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?
Nothing in Portland will change until our streets are cleared of campers. This not only hurts us financially it darkens our souls. We see the suffering everyday and can not simply pretend it is not there. Much of the crime also arises from the street camping crisis. We have huge problems and even with the full support of the people we can only handle one at the moment. Let’s take care of our People then worry about every thing else.
What do you think the city could do to speed up the construction of affordable housing?
Nothing. The need itself will drive the market forward. Right now our attention must be on the people sleeping on the streets. They cannot wait until new housing opens. They need our help today, and we can provide it.
What can be done to make Portland’s roads safer?
Nothing. The police force is stretched to thin. Traffic control is a low priority. We should leave it that way unless we can obtain more automated camera systems. Those like the street responce teams are the solution to carry us forward in these dangerous times.