OPB asked all the candidates seeking a seat on Portland City Council to answer some questions about the issues. Below are answers from Ed Baker, a candidate for position 3, currently held by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty These answers have not been edited.
Lifelong Oregonian. 13 Year Baseball Coach and former President of Clackamas Babe Ruth. Former Professional Wrestling Promoter. Have overcome a Gambling Addiction, a Felony Conviction and Homelessness. Passionate about Truth and Accountability. Want to clean up the city of Portland. Make it a place that people are proud to live in.
Why are you running for City Council? What relevant experience do you have?
I have personally struggled with many of the issues facing our community. I have been homeless. I have struggled with an addiction to gambling. I have been to jail and had to go through that system. I have overcome many of these challenges and know first hand those struggles. I want to clean up this city. I want to show support our Police Officers and hold ANTIFA and other criminals accountable for their crimes.
What bureaus do you want to run? Why do you think you’re the person to oversee them?
Joint Office of Homeless Services; Bureau of Parks & Recreation; Open and Accountable Elections Programs; Portland Police Bureau; Portland 911; Portland Mall Management
These are areas that I am passionate about. I have experience as someone who has overcome homelessness and worked my way through local services. I have coached youth sports for thirteen years. I am a big supporter of our Police.
Are there any bureaus you do not want?
Most of them. I would imagine my skill set wouldn’t be appropriate for the majority of the Bureaus. I am happy to learn all I can and work with experts in those areas. I acknowledge that there is a large variety of bureaus that need coverage. Others likely have stronger skillsets in areas I don’t.
What is one concrete action you would take immediately upon entering office to reduce the number of people living on the street?
I can’t say any one immediate action that would achieve this. I have experience working with Transition Projects Incorporated to overcome my own homelessness. I want to have a team of people who will help raise morale in this city. To reach out one-on-one with everyone on the street to try to learn from them. To try to motivate them to get back on their feet. When a person was in the 7th grade they never said that they wanted to be living on the streets of Portland in thirty or forty or fifty years. We need to help these people get their love of life back. I have lived in fully subsidized housing since 2013. I understand the process for getting services.
If the city were to increase shelter supply, would you support requiring people living outside to move into shelters?
No. I wouldn’t outlaw camping. At this point, we are so far from anything that would make this a realistic option, that it isn’t worth discussing. First, we need to have plenty of options available. Shelters aren’t for everyone. Some people can’t make that work. We need many options for people. If enough people have shelter options, it will reduce the number of people on the street to the point that these requirements may not be necessary.
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?
No. Everyone seems to want to change everything. We need to change who we are electing to these positions. I am all about working within the rules that exist. If changes come at some point, then I will adapt to those new rules. I am not into wishing and what if’s. I am into working within the rules we have now.
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 familiar with any. I am for supporting the Police force and allowing them to do their job to police this city. I am for cleaning up the city. Taking down the murals of criminals. Cleaning up the trash. Cleaning up the needles. I want to see everyone held accountable for their actions. When someone is arrested at a protest turned riot, those charges should not be dropped.
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?
The changes that need to be made are that violent rioters need to be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. ANTIFA needs to be defeated in Portland. Racism and prejudice comes from people of all Color, Age, Gender, Sexual Orientation and Economic Status. That Prejudice is directed at people of all Color, Age, Gender, Sexual Orientation and Economic Status. We need to get away from this labeling one race as being responsible for the majority of Racism in this city. We need to be real about what is going on. Not label people. Call it what it is. No special treatment. No protected classes. Punish the people who break the law.
Poll after poll 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?
Take down all the graffiti and murals honoring criminals and thugs. Clean up the city. Defeat ANTIFA.
What do you think the city could do to speed up the construction of affordable housing?
The way things are going, this will never be solved. You add 100 affordable housing units, and 1000 more people are in need of them. We need to completely rethink this entire situation. We need to think big. We need dedicated areas set up to house those who cannot afford or qualify for housing. I would like to follow models that have worked in other parts of the country. I believe San Antonio, Texas has had success with that. We need to bring in a number of experts to create something significant. Faith Groups. Volunteers. Financial backers. We need to find locations and make this into something special. Something to help people find their self-confidence. Their self-worth. To get going again.
What can be done to make Portland’s roads safer?
You can’t make things safer. Every time you make something safer you make mankind weaker. You can’t coddle people. People die every day naturally or unnaturally. Trying to save everyone from themselves isn’t wise. Expect more from people. Let them live their life. Quit treating people like babies. I’m for Freedom. Not government control.