Candidates for Council Position 2 / James (Jas) Davis

1. East Portland is home to 25% of the city’s population, yet has historically been allocated a smaller share of city resources than other areas of town. How will you support equity for East Portland in city investments in transportation, parks, housing and economic development?

My consistent position on this matter has been that the best way to make sure East Portland receives an equitable share of city resources is to elect council members by district and ensure that the 25% of Portlanders who live in the 6 easternmost zipcodes along I-205 and east have their own representatives on the council. This would assure that 25% of council members are from East Portland. This is one of my top priorities for this city. I also support expanding the council to allow for a greater diversity of representatives and electing council members using STAR Voting (Score Then Automatic Runoff) to ensure East Portland representatives on the city council are actually supported by the majority of East Portlanders. I am also in favor of taking a restorative approach to budgeting in which East Portland receives a disproportionately larger share of resources for some time to compensate for the history of neglect. 

 

2. East Portland lags behind the rest of the city in personal incomes and job opportunities. What will you do to increase the number of family-wage jobs in East Portland?

As a small business owner for the past 30 years, I know what it takes to start and sustain a business. I support assistance for small businesses to get through this crisis so we are not losing as many businesses in East Portland. And I support loan funds supporting small businesses, startups, and cooperatives for East Portland. In particular, I support chartering a Public Bank for Portland with a mission to support lower-cost loans for small businesses and startups that tout family wage jobs, all of which would benefit East Portland. A Public Bank could operate with a policy to prioritize a certain percentage of its loan pool for owner-occupied homes, business, startups and projects in East Portland. 

 

3. Portland is experiencing a severe housing crisis, and East Portland residents are particularly vulnerable to displacement. What tools will you implement to prevent involuntary displacement of low-income people from East Portland?

During this crisis, there must be assistance to help people stay in their homes, and coming out of this crisis we need better programs in place to continue supporting that mission. Moreover, we should implement policies designed to reduce the incentive to treat homes as commodities and reduce speculation in housing in order to reduce the tremendous upward pressure on housing prices and rents. I also support chartering a Public Bank for Portland with a mission to support lower-cost loans for homebuyers, small businesses and startups, all of which would benefit East Portland. A public bank could be charged with a mission to support housing affordability. It could, for example, only provide loans for owner-occupied homes or low-income housing, and for programs designed to help people who are facing potential displacement to stay in their homes.

 

4. What is your strategy to bring East Portland’s street infrastructure up to the standard of the rest of the city?

The only “strategy” that can accomplish this is prioritizing more money for East Portland than goes to other parts of the city until street and infrastructure standards in East Portland match those being met in other parts of the city. I am in favor of taking a restorative approach to budgeting in which East Portland receives a disproportionately larger share of resources for some time (likely decades) to compensate for the history of neglect. There are also tools like tax increment financing, however those should only be employed at the request and direction of East Portlanders and not be an imposed solution from outside, and a portion of funds generated by creating an urban renewal district should be devoted to helping residents stay in their homes.

 

5. If you are elected, what is your vision of East Portland a decade from now? What is your strategy to get us there?

My vision for East Portland is of several thriving hubs that are pedestrian and bike friendly where all Portlanders enjoy congregating, shopping, and spending time. My vision for East Portland is of neighborhoods that feel cohesive where current neighbors live closer to jobs and opportunities for entertainment, shopping, and access to community centers. Getting there will take city resources combined with local community involvement in planning processes. Ultimately, my vision for East Portland is of many vibrant East Portland communities engaged and working together to envision and guide the ongoing infrastructure and community development of East Portland to be what East Portlanders want it to be.

 

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