There are a record four open seats on city council this year, including for mayor, and we interviewed almost every candidate running to fill them. This is one in a series.
NOTE: all of these interviews were conducted before the Covid-10 outbreak.  

Candace Avalos, running for City Commissioner, Position 1

the most pressing problem is our outdated Commission form of government and lack of district representation.

What’s the most pressing problem facing Portland and what are you going to do about it? 

I’m running with many of Portland’s most pressing problems in mind, including: addressing our housing and houselessness crisis, improving city infrastructure, creating standards for 21st century policing that builds trust in the community, comprehensive action on our climate crisis, and removing barriers for Portlanders to be heard at City Hall. However, what I believe is the most pressing problem is our outdated Commission form of government and lack of district representation that continues to hold us back as a city.

We must address the root of our problems, which begins with how Portlanders are being represented in the decisions we make for our growing city, and how our bureaus work more collaboratively. In 2021 during our upcoming charter review process, I will create a community driven process to put a measure on the ballot that updates our government to have the capacity to reflect the diverse voices in Portland. 

How would you define a successful term in office? 

My main goal is to restore the trust between the people of Portland and City Hall. Not only are we underrepresented without having Commissioners elected by district, but there is an overall lack of public engagement to ensure the decisions made in City Hall reflect the voices of all communities in Portland. I will consider myself successful if I can finally put a measure on the ballot to change the form of government that has city-wide support, and take meaningful steps towards correcting this lack of representation on the council.

I will also measure my success by implementing internship programs, creating more opportunities for people to engage with city council, and building stronger relationships with community advocates and leaders. Passionate people across Portland are constantly innovating new ways to solve our problems—let’s take their voices seriously and give them opportunities to invest their ideas back into the city. 

What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you? 

As the youngest candidate in my race, I’m aware that I must combat a perception that I don’t have enough experience to lead a large city like Portland. However, people would be surprised to know that I have built a reputation and career on my ability to fix fractured organizations of all sizes that have the passion for change but lack the visionary leadership to get there.

I’m invested in my community locally (chair of a police accountability board) and nationally (founder of a national student government organization) and I have the experience, heart, and grit to lead Portland too.