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.
Loretta Smith, running for City Commissioner, Position 2
“We must act not just when it is politically convenient, but every single time that it’s right.“
What’s the most pressing problem facing Portland and what are you going to do about it?
The most pressing problem facing Portland is poverty. Poverty is the foundation of issues around homelessness, our inability to reduce traffic congestion, and the wealth inequality and discrimination in our community. With billions of dollars in the budget, we can do better at providing opportunities for everyone to be successful – regardless of what zip code they come from.
My plan is to do two things about it – collaborate and take action. We have to work with people who are on the ground in this fight – like teachers, homeless outreach workers, and transportation advocates – to come up with real solutions that work for real people. Next, we must find the courage to act. We must act not just when it is politically convenient, but every single time that its right. I have always found the courage to act and will continue to as a Portland City Commissioner.
How would you define a successful term in office?
I would define a successful term in office by the depth of community we’ve engaged in finding a collaborative path forward for our city and by outcomes we can see are working to fight back against the growing decline in quality of life for working people and vulnerable communities in our city. We must be innovative enough to address the short-term crises we face and the more long-term fixes at the same time. It is not enough to just adopt a policy and wait ten years to see if it works – we need significant change now and a long-term strategy to sustain it.
We need to work quickly, but urgency cannot overshadow the parallel need to engage deeply with impacted communities that have often been left out of conversations about policy options and resource allocation. Accomplishing those two things would be a successful term in office for me.
What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you?
Most people would be surprised to know that my dad was a Hall of Fame boxer from North Portland.