OPB reporters asked candidates for Portland mayor a series of questions about pressing issues facing Oregon’s largest city. Here’s a rundown on how Sean Davis, a military veteran and community college teacher, answered.
Q&A with Portland Mayoral Candidate Sean Davis
OPB: How would you describe the relationship between the Portland Police Bureau and the people of Portland? What steps would you take to build trust in the police?
Sean Davis: I was a military police officer. I did law enforcement for three years. That’s not an easy job. You take it home with you. Right now, our police force is so under-manned. Some of these police officers are doubling their salaries with overtime. Not only are we undermanned, but we have 95 police officers that are going to be eligible for retirement this year….
These overworked police officers are only responding to the public in times of dire need. We have to hire more police officers. We need the guy that will kick the doors down, but we also need people with psychology degrees, we need history professors … I also believe in a lot more diversity. And I want police officers, if at all possible, to live in the neighborhoods they’re patrolling.
OPB: Do you agree with Mayor Charlie Hales’ decision to temporarily allow public camping in Portland? What is one step you would take to ease the homeless crisis?
SD: Public camping is a Band Aid. It’s a short-term thing. We can’t have that all time, and nobody wants to do that. That’s what a lot of people are missing – nobody wants to sleep on concrete streets on a cold night. … The temporary transitional housing is a good start. I know we’ve dedicated $30 million from the city into creating temporary housing. That’s good stuff.
I’m all about creating a mentorship program, where we get people from the streets, we train them on how to mentor other people, and we start paying them, giving them jobs. We have enough people to really want to help people out that we can come together and do it. It’s all about getting neighborhoods and communities involved. If we have a shared idea of something that’s great, we can all work toward it.
OPB:What should city government’s role be in ensuring bike and pedestrian safety?
SD: The city’s role in establishing bike and pedestrian safety is to give that responsibility to the community. Nobody is going to take care of children more than their parents, I promise you that. We have to have mediation and give and take, because everyone is going to want to put as much possible safety standards in their community.
OPB:Are you satisfied with the work being done by the Portland Development Commission? Describe the approach you would take as mayor toward economic development and how it would differ from the PDC’s current approach.
SD: One of the big things we’re working on is a home-court advantage policy that will give advantage to Portlanders who want to open up a business as opposed to people from out of state. That also goes for property owners that actually live here in Portland, as opposed to people who live out of state or big property management companies. I want to cut fees and the permitting time and everything for first-time business owners.
… I want to make small businesses in Portland more competitive. I want as many as possible. We have to encourage our small business owners to work with the Portland Development Commission. The small businesses when their money is spent, that stays in our community. The large businesses, it goes away. So bring small businesses in, create small businesses here.
OPB: Name one distinct neighborhood or area of Portland that needs more attention from city government, and why.
SD: I want to work toward district representation. If you look at the City Council, it’s not a very diverse bunch at all. I’d like to add two more seats. I want to work toward representational districting. If we had representational districting, then the people who elected that commissioner could hold them accountable. I talk to people all over Portland about this, and they say, “We don’t have that?” Our four city commissioners are elected at large, and what happens is, they stay downtown. People outside of Portland just aren’t represented.