Candidates for Mayor / Ozzie González

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 policy platform includes measures that will make it easier for East Portland to participate in public forums and to be understood by the agency regardless of their primary language. Not only do I speak two languages (Spanish), my language access initiative and my updates to public forums will make it easier for people to attend remotely and get interpretation services across many languages. I also have a safe streets initiative that will use community conversations as the driving force for enhancements to roads, sidewalks, and other parts of the neighborhood. My transit-oriented development policy will also bring investment to East Portland and provide the much-needed housing, services, and jobs that will make East Portland more walkable and provide local options for the community’s daily needs. Putting all of these measures together, the result will be more investment in East Portland and a community informed process of setting priorities for the neighborhoods.

East Portland has a history of neglect from City budgets and it is time that change. From food deserts and a lack of employment centers to the fundamental parts of a community like sidewalks and maintained roads, there has been a consistent disregard over the years for that sector of the city and it has left residents neglected and underserved. It does not have to be this way!

Under my leadership, East Portland will have an opportunity to have ownership of their destiny and the support of the entire public agency. The city needs East Portland to get stronger and I am 100% behind helping the residents, businesses, and community organizations of the East Portland region lead in the creation of priorities for their own neighborhoods. With the need for parks, playgrounds, pools, fresh produce markets, and anchor businesses that provide living wage jobs, it is time for the community of East Portland to be heard as to how the city can better serve it today.

 

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?

I will invest in East Portland and incentivize investments by others through smart policies and partnerships. Lifting up East Portland will require a combination of career development for students, support for locally owned businesses, and investments in the industries of the future such as renewable energy power. Programs already in place such as the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) make this the right moment to make these investments and my track record of doing this work will be a valuable background to bring to the Mayor’s seat.

Just like I have done as a diversity director for local construction projects, I will work with the middle and high schools to get East Portland youth exposed to career tracks that offer living wage opportunities in the city. I will build pipelines of apprenticeships and provide summer jobs to the youth of East Portland to work with industry practitioners. By expanding the model of East Portland organizations like NAYA, APANO, PYB, and Constructing Hope there is an opportunity to establish pipelines of support from the classroom to the career in areas that provide paid learning opportunities and lead to living wage jobs. There is a real need in Oregon to align the educational programs available to young people with the emerging job markets in our region. I see East Portland as the best place to make that happen.

Supporting businesses with technical assistance, access to capital, and making it attractive to grow their business is all part of my plan for East Portland as well. The PCEF grants process is a great vehicle to do some of this work—I see it as my job to connect with East Portland organizations and businesses to ensure strong applications are coming from East Portland and benefitting the residents of 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?

Displacement is a real community killer and the pressure to improve and invest in East Portland will not be a source of displacement under my leadership. Whether its through incentives, support programs, or penalties—preventing displacement is too important to ignore.

My transit-oriented development policy includes anti-displacement measures for housing infill projects and incorporates a support program for people and businesses at risk of involuntary displacement. The Residential Infill Project ballot measure will also include anti-displacement policies and support programs as part of my policy approach.

In addition to anti-displacement measures, my approach to housing policy expands the conversation from “affordable housing” to actually create housing at a rental price people can pay with today’s jobs. My policy will broaden the focus to include senior housing, workforce housing, intergenerational housing, and co-housing—all options that are currently ignored by the housing policies in place.

 

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

This question should not even have to be asked; and this is why I am running. My purpose as Mayor is to bring a new perspective and an underrepresented voice to the seat, but my job is to use that voice to address the underserved. The street infrastructure of East Portland is one of the areas where my work will be focused.

The Safe Streets Initiative that I have proposed as part of my comprehensive transportation and mobility plan will provide many opportunities to define priority projects for East Portland. With the highest transit dependent population and the highest fatality rate for pedestrians all occurring in East Portland, the conditions are ripe for safety enhancements throughout East Portland.

 

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 clear: a patchwork quilt of unique, walkable neighborhoods with safe streets and a variety of food, transport, and public space options that express the special characteristics and histories of each neighborhood. I see neighborhoods that are proud of who they are, who express themselves in their own way, and who form part of a collective city that believes that livability and sustainability is for everyone to have.

Getting us there begins with my getting elected. I have a comprehensive policy agenda that includes housing, transportation, climate action, and community empowerment. Even though we are going to do something we have never tried in Portland, my experience in sustainable design, economic development, and inclusion is something Portland has never had in a Mayoral candidate and I cannot think of a better challenge to tackle than getting this done in step with East Portland residents.

 

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