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Working and Living in a Sustainable City w/ Kat Stevens

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About this Episode

May 18, 2020

Sarah joined health care analyst and working mom Kat Stevens / @kittiepryde on Instagram Live to discuss what it would take to make Portland a sustainable city where people can live and work.

Find your nearest ballot drop box at sarah2020.com/dropboxes.

Here's how you can help get Sarah elected Portland's next mayor on May 19th:

Have a question for Sarah? Email it to ourportland@sarah2020.com.

Transcript

This transcript was generated automatically and has not been reviewed for accuracy by our transcription team yet. Please email ourportland@sarah2020.com if you would like to help!

Speaker 1
Welcome to our Portland with Sarah [inaudible] made possible by contributors to friends of Sarah for Portland. Portlanders have everything we need to make radical progress today on emergencies like climate chaos, housing affordability, and staggering inequality. Each episode we'll hear how Sarah plans to be the mayor to lead the city of Portland to a more equitable and sustainable future. And now here's Sarah

Speaker 2
Portland, Sarah, I, and I'm running for mayor here. And election day is right around the corner. It's Tuesday, May 19th. It's too late to mail in your ballot. You need to drop it off at one of the official Dropbox sites. You can find those on the Mount Noma County elections website. It's really important that you vote this primary election. We need to unseat the incumbent and get new leadership into office. That said, I had a very interesting conversation with one of my supporters, cat Stevens. She and I met way back in the day working on issues of rights for people experiencing homelessness in the state of Oregon actually. And so from there we've, uh, cultivated a much deeper understanding of each other's lives and shared interest in policies that can make Portland livable. We talk a little bit about what it's like to learn as we grow as moms and what moms bring to leadership and even have a bit of a fun discussion about, if I could have any superpower, which one would it be? So you'll have to listen through to get to the answer, but make sure you vote this cycle and please enjoy our conversation.

Speaker 3
Sarah. Good morning. Can I speak to the man of the house? I'm still reeling from that. We can talk about it a little bit today. So that was fun. So what Sarah is referencing is, um, a certain paper did not sort of, um, did not believe I was a person that could give a valid endorsement, I suppose. Um, I don't know why we had a, uh, we, um, Sarah requested that I would include my endorsement on a mailer that was, um, featuring all really wonderful, amazing women in the community and uh, voicing their support for Sarah. And it was honored to be a part of it and I was really excited to be a part of it. And, um, a paper decided that I don't get to make endorsements apparently. So. Oh yes. But that's okay. We don't have to talk about that. We're here to talk with Sarah and amazing future mayor. I'm so excited to have you on today. Um, how are you doing this morning? I'm good. How are you? I know that you're working from

Speaker 2
home, you're parenting from home, your spouse partner is parenting from home and working from home. How are you all hanging in there? You have a busier house than I do.

Speaker 3
It was very busy. Um, we're taking lots of walks. We're lucky to live next to some trails so we've been able to go out as much as possible when the weather permits. Stokely's very excited about that. He does not like it when we take his shoes off cause he knows the walk is over. So we do have a screaming fit just about everyday when the shoes come off. Um, so I have, I have collected some questions for you. Cool. The followers. So I have a list here that I wanted to, um, outside, it's right there. Um, I have a list of questions for you, so I'm going to jump right in and get started. So, um, first I just want to give you a chance to give yourself

Speaker 2
introduction, so yeah. And thanks for having me and thanks for hosting me on your stream. You know, it's been so challenging as you know, to adapt to how we do campaigning under coven and having people let us into their virtual living rooms via their social media. Was this a wild innovation? So thanks for being a part of it. I know you had planned to host an in person house party. Um, but in some ways, at least this way we can still talk and you don't have to clean before everyone comes over. Um, so a little bit about me, and I think maybe one of you alluded to this a little bit of how we met was in advocacy, especially around, um, people experiencing homelessness or what it would mean for statewide bill of rights to protect people experiencing homelessness. Because we know from talking to people who are having the experience in our streets, not just people experiencing, um, the housing shortage, evictions, homelessness, but their direct service providers, their advocates, their caseworkers, how awful it is for them to try to find permanent housing when we're consistently destabilizing them through policing, through things like the sweeps, through lack of access to resources that they need.

Speaker 2
And so I've always appreciated about you, um, your commitment to justice for vulnerable people in our city. And that's something that we share. I, um, come to that from a little bit different perspective from you. You're working in public health now. I come from the planning side of that and they're not completely divergent in so far as thinking about how we use the land in our city, how we move across our city is one of the important ways that we can try to actually make our city healthier for all Portlanders. And so what I've done, uh, prior to being in politics was I was a small business founder. I ran a little neighborhood joint here in my community across from the Mount Scott Park and community center. In part because my neighborhood had some really bad nicknames and I didn't think that people in my neighborhood deserved those bad nicknames.

Speaker 2
I thought we deserved a place where we could go and, um, do things like have some eggs and toast and gather with our, our neighbors. And so we founded that back in 2006. Um, it since went out of business due to it, uh, disappointingly for friends and family and our community now. And I think we're going to be seeing a lot of that. But after we founded that and when my daughter was getting a little older, I was doing what you're doing now, which is go back to graduate school while raising a family, um, studying how we can make cities more sustainable. And through that I had a chance to host visiting leaders from around the world who would come to Portland because they had heard something special was going on here and they said, Sarah, how can we do that back at home? Whether that was Australia or Korea or Japan or even Kenya.

Speaker 2
And what I shared with them is pretty unexpected in terms of what a lot of people would think Portland is sharing from around the world. Some people would say, Oh they invested in transit and you know, they uh, have eco roofs and yeah, that was a part of it. But really what they wanted to learn about was community. How does Portland bring people together to get things done? How do we plant trees and increase our tree canopy even as Portland is growing? How do we need things like street paintings so neighbors can come together so that their streets feel safer? And how do we foster an engaged, um, civic realm so that Portlanders are shaping outcomes in their city. And what we've learned over that last decade of interest in Portland is that in some places we're still doing really well. Um, we are leaving I think in how we're thinking about provision of affordable housing.

Speaker 2
We are leading on things like, um, making sure that we are putting climate action at least into our policy language. But where we've fallen behind I think is realizing the difference between having good aspirations towards something. And resting on your laurels in terms of your reputation and really getting things done. And nowhere where does the rubber hit the road on that? Like homelessness, right? You can't call yourself a sustainable city when 4,000 people are sleeping on your streets every night and tens of thousands more are housing insecure, experiencing hunger or lack of access to basics like, um, clean water to drink or even broadband to their house. So I've been fighting for those things because I just think the hypocrisy is a little bit too much to bear and it's pretty unacceptable in 2020 when you look at the climate crisis that we're facing and the instability that's coming our way, we need different leadership who's got a different set of values and ideas for addressing it.

Speaker 3
Yes, we do. And you are that leadership. Thank you so much for that introduction. That was wonderful. So we'll launch into some questions now. Um, so the first question we have is in what way? So this one's a little bit long, um, in what ways do you plan to solve our housing crisis? So that was a good segue. Um, I'm worried about the homeless population and I'm also worried about the people at risk of becoming homeless because of lack of affordable housing, especially now due to COBIT 19 crisis.

Speaker 2
And what are those solutions? My goodness, the solutions are many. I do want to say hi. I think that's Derek crooks on the line. Our kids went to school together. So I'm always happy when I see an old friend who's a parent. Parents, I know our kids were kids. We run it together. So, um, I have put forward, actually probably one of the most comprehensive, uh, plans for this. It's can be found@sarahtwentytwenty.com slash housing. It's a 3,800 word strategy for addressing our housing crisis with the urgency that it merits. You know, many people may not realize that we've been under a housing state of emergency since 2015 and we haven't really chipped away at the issue. You know, we need to look at the reality versus the rhetoric in terms of what's going on in the Portland housing Bureau, how much supply we're bringing online oversight for the Portland housing bond.

Speaker 2
Um, what's really going on out there? So I have called for that first, like as soon as I take office, um, we're going to convene a strategic planning process to end Portland's housing state of emergency. Now this is not going to be simple and this is not going to solve all the problems, but what it's going to try to do is help us stabilize so that we can at least end the housing state of emergency within the first five years. And what I think that we have to look at is three parts on that. One is the housing supply and how much we need where and how can we make that possible and bring it online faster and more affordably. Two would be thinking about how do we use our technical capacity in our bureaus and the city differently so that the planning Bureau and the transportation Bureau and development services aren't impediments to bringing housing online, but that they're actually functioning to help communities bring housing online in ways that work for them.

Speaker 2
And the third is looking at our revenue and making sure that our revenue streams are properly aligned. Our strategic partnerships are aligned and that our revenue sources are progressive and not regressive. So we need to be thinking about who's paying for what and how in our city. Now when you drill down to that, there's a lot of things that need to be going on behind the scene scene. Simultaneously, renter protections, renter protections are consumer protections, and I was actually just speaking with a tenant's rate lawyer yesterday on a live stream. You may want to check that one out. His name is Mike Michael Fuller. He's with underdog law, but he's even been protecting people who are getting evicted right now when there's an eviction moratorium in place, because landlords are saying things like they're calling it an injection now, right? And this is subsidized housing. These are people on section eight we have people being evicted from home forward.

Speaker 2
We have people being evicted off public subsidy. So we need to think about what can we even control in terms of who's getting evicted and where. Because we know the minute someone tips from housing to unhoused, the costs of getting people rehoused are exponentially greater than if we were just putting subsidies and protections in place to keep people housed in the first place. And this is not an anti landlord initiative. This is about landlords are benefiting when they're having to do all these evictions either. But what this is saying is that if we're gonna look at this landscape and this ecosystem, we need to protect our most vulnerable and sometimes the most vulnerable is a small landlord, but I definitely don't want to create a landscape in which multinationals and real estate speculators from wall street are coming in and scooping up and profiting off this crisis that Portlanders are facing now.

Speaker 2
There's a lot of other strategies in that housing plan that are pretty innovative. Everything from looking at every nook and cranny of the city for all sorts of housing. Thinking about things like the village model for transitional housing, how we can be working with partners and churches and nonprofit organizations around the city to increase that supply of intentional community based transitional housing. We need to be thinking about, um, innovation and ways that we can bring the civic capacity of our city to bear on this. I believe that Portlanders are filled with ideas, talents, experience networks that, that traverse the globe. And so I don't like when we're not basing our policies and our actions in community because to me community is the greatest force for change. So one thing I will say in light of COBIT, and I want to make this perfectly clear, if any policy maker tells you that they know what's going on, they're full of BS.

Speaker 2
This is something that no one has seen before. We've seen intimations of it. I'm in the 2007, 2008 global financial crisis, but nothing to the extent that we're seeing now, I'm quite concerned about what happens when that eviction moratorium is lifted at the end of June. Where are the protections? Are we either going to keep it going forward or are we going to have protections in place? Because there's going to be a lot of forces coming to bear on Portlanders, people holding mortgages, people holding commercial leases, people who are holding residential leases, um, who are going to be forced into very difficult positions with regard to, if I can't make this big payment, am I foreclosed upon? Am I evicted? We do not want that happening. And I certainly don't want any forces in the city making it possible for Portlanders to be displaced from housing that they have.

Speaker 2
And if that means taking a risky position as a mayor and saying how no, you're not going to displace our people and fighting against wall street on behalf of Portlanders. That's the exact type of leadership that we need right now because we don't know what's happening out there. So we need a leader who's going to say, yeah, no one knows. But I can tell you this, when it comes to choosing between whether wall Street's happy or Portlanders are protected, then my focus is going to be on protecting Portlanders and it's going to be focused on protecting the most vulnerable Portlanders in that situation. Thank you so much for that answer. That was wonderful. Um, and we all know, we all know so well how there's just so many people that are one paycheck that before this crisis where one paycheck away from losing their housing and now now we are where we are and so we need some really innovative solutions and innovative leadership to get us through this.

Speaker 2
And I do think that you're the person for the job. Um, what was that link again? Um, for your policy or housing policy? Sarah 20 twenty.com/housing her. And if you go to that website, I mean I'm sure we'll talk to it today, but there's a whole suite of policies there and for each one there's even a podcast. So if you want, if you're not into a waiting through policy papers, which I think only the most among us, probably like our Gras interested in waiting through policy papers, then you can listen to the podcast and get the essence of what we're talking about. Perfect. Awesome. All right. Next question, and this is kind of a transition from what we were just talking about, but what does COBIT recovery look like for Portland? Yeah, this is someplace where I think that our campaign has done a fantastic job of tapping straight into the best thinkers in our community in terms of what they believe they need for recovery.

Speaker 2
And we have outlined that actually in our recovery plan. You know, when the Portland mercury endorsed me, in some part it was because they said Sarah had proposed, um, you know, 10 days before the mayor even acted a complete suite of community responses to coven that ultimately the city adopted some of them, not all of them. I do think the city shouldn't be adopting all of them and much more quickly, but the fact that we're dialed in to the best thinkers and most community networked people here is going to help us get through this. And I say that because I believe that many of the things that we were talking about [inaudible] now take on increased urgency. I'll give you a few concrete examples. Municipal broadband is something that I've been, hi Greg. Municipal broadband is something that I've been talking about since, uh, October of 2019 in terms of an infrastructure investment that we need to double down on because one, it helps us decrease the amount of investments in fossil fuel infrastructure that we need to make.

Speaker 2
But two, it's about equity and access. We'll look now in the midst of coven, how many families are struggling. PPS families can't get the educational materials they need. They can't connect with their educators and teachers can connect with their students, workers having problems getting online. We have people camped out in parking lot six to hotspots trying to use the internet in 2020. It's just not acceptable. So it's something that when I was proposing it back in October, everyone's like, Oh, look at that pie in the sky thinking municipal broadband, no way. And now everyone's like, Oh, that's a hell of a good idea, right? We should be doing that. The green new deal is similar. I don't like the fact that the mayor just proposed an austerity budget talking about cuts this and that. When we have stimulus money that's coming our way, we actually have, uh, access to bonding capacity where we could be doubling down on green infrastructure and creating green jobs instead of cutting city jobs.

Speaker 2
Which city jobs are pretty green. When you think about it in a sustainable city, instead, you know what? We're growing as usual, the police budget. So this is where the same things, if you have the same people in positions of power, they're going to make the same stupid decisions. Whether we're in a crisis or not in a crisis. And when you're a person who comes from a place of community prosperity and equity and inclusion, then those solutions are actually going to make you better equipped to adapt and recover because they're about resiliency. They're about community power. They understand the us coming together and community safety hubs and mutual aid is the basis of our future prosperity, not an inhibition to it. And so making sure that we're enabling and empowering communities to connect and to exchange ideas and information and help even you just don't see it from the city of Portland.

Speaker 2
So it's about, it's not, it's about resisting austerity. It's about rethinking budgets and investments to grow green jobs. It's about really challenging that public safety budget in terms of the criminalization of whom and why and where our dollars go. And making sure that when we really talking about public safety, which is 60% of our general fund in the city budget, I want it so that people aren't dying in the streets, whether it's from traffic, violence, police brutality, um, homelessness, hunger, like if we're going to keep Portland or safe that we spend public safety money not on some institution because the Portland police union wants us to, but because we have data that says when you put money here, Portlanders are safer and healthier. Period. Yeah. Wonderful. Thank you for that answer. All right. We are running. We got, I hope we get to all these questions.

Speaker 2
I wish I would have remembered who requested them, but know that if you're watching this live stream and you, I hope your question is getting answered and I apologize. I know my answers are always long, but these are such complicated, reducing them to a sound bite. No, they absolutely need to be wonderful. It's so, it's wonderful. So next up we have someone heard that you wanted to make TriMet Fairless. How does that work? Well, that's actually such a great question because it's one of those things where when you look at how Portland works, we have all of these local governments and the TriMet is actually its own authority functions regionally. It's appointed by the governor and in some ways not really accountable to the people of Portland. So there are a few ideas I had for workarounds, which is a lot of what the next mayor is going to have to do is can you innovate and be creative and build community power around kind of sidestepping existing dysfunctional institutions if you don't have the time and energy to transform those institutions.

Speaker 2
So yes, we want to work on the TriMet board. And how it is appointed and probably get that even to where those are elected positions co located with our regional government, which does the transportation planning and capital investments for transit and TriMet. So why wouldn't those two be working more closely together? Um, so thinking carefully about that and how TriMet, what TriMet is, community oversight and power derives from and how it's governed. Another part is for youth, right? Looking at the 2020 bond measure and making sure that if we're going to be making investments with our tax dollars that youth across this region have access to Fairless transit. Unequivocally. That's a number one thing. And then thinking about as Portland mayor, if I really care about this, even if it's outside my purview, you know, we can think about when we spend money buying passes, right?

Speaker 2
Essentially buying access to TriMet for Portland residents is something that we could think about doing if we want to spend our money that way we can talk about, especially right now, I cannot believe for essential workers that they're having to face fair enforcement on TriMet. Right now we have $4 million in this budget cycle for transit fare enforcement. Yeah. In this budget cycle. In a crisis. It's just bananas. So those are, those are like a series of steps to get us there. Uh, but it's also part of the city of Portland and taking back its leadership role as the urban leader in the state of Oregon and one of the urban leaders on the American West coast and saying, we're going to fight for that because access to Fairless transit is going to be the basis of our climate action planning and part of our workforce development because people need access to jobs, they need access to schools.

Speaker 2
I don't see anybody taking transit because like they can just hop a free ride in that side. They're going to spend an afternoon. It's just not policymakers who aren't connected to transit and haven't been transit dependent and don't live without an automobile or reside in East Portland. Just don't understand what it's like out there. I don't think for people trying to use TriMet. Yes, we definitely desperately need, I agree with all of this. I mean a Fairless TriMet system would just be such a beautiful thing. Bring back, bring back the three downtown. It's actually why I moved to Portland back in 1998 I heard the buses were free and I thought what kind of place in America has Fairless training? Whoa, I want to be there. It must be so awesome. When I got here it was fairly square and then they expanded it over to Lloyd district and then they took it away.

Speaker 2
What are your thoughts on universal pre-K and how can we support this movement at a steady level? I supported the universal pre-K. I was just posting cause there was a picture of me and my universal pre-K t-shirt. I don't have it on today, but I've actually been supporting the up now, um, initiative for universal pre-K. And again, it's one of those things where it seemed a bit radical prior to COBIT. And now in the COBIT world order, we're looking around going, um, all these essential worker essential workers that we a sensibly value are needing to go back to jobs when we open up the economy. But schools are closed. Childcare centers are closed, community centers are closed. Where are their children supposed to go? Yeah. Imagine if that was a public resource where we're investing in that so that we can then manage and monitor that in a way that's focused on our economic goals and our equity goals and our educational goals as opposed to something that the private is left to the private sector.

Speaker 2
I know that's an issue that's been for your family. When you look at how much you're paying a month and childcare is probably your biggest bill when you're both working, right? The second mortgage. Yeah, exactly. I mean, I can relate to that because it was cheaper for me to be a stay at home mom than it was, especially when I was in the restaurant business. This was before I had gone back to school, so I didn't have a high wage earning opportunity. It was cheaper for me to stay home than to pay the childcare to go to work. So I ended up being a stay at home mom for several years, which we know how that affects my social security earnings over a lifetime. You know, all kinds of things and affects your access to healthcare. I was on the Oregon health plan when I was a stay at home mom.

Speaker 2
So yeah, we need to think carefully about these things. Absolutely. And then at our last question, and this is a fun one, so I've saved it for last Coco. If you could pick any super power, what would it be? Oh man. I actually think that's one of my questions because I said if we had a virtual debate, um, I can't believe I said I wanted to be asked this question. I haven't actually thought of the answer. I think in, um, top of my head, I wish I could snap my fingers and instill empathy and compassion like as this universal thing that people could have. Cause if we were truly having empathy and compassion for other humans, I don't think a lot of people would be doing these damaging things that they're doing. I don't think we would have trillionaire Amazon dude, I don't think that we would have the rise of white nationalism that's so bound up in toxic masculinity and this self centered patriarchal white supremacist model. That's completely me, me, me, the myth of American individualism and the inability to come together as community. So if somehow I could in snap my fingers and instill empathy and compassion in the population, um, I think we would even be able to solve our environmental crises. Cause looking at the wellbeing of frontline communities means that we'd be making good choices on the environmental front too. I love that answer. That's a beautiful answer. Goodness would have a negative side effect. But having empathy, compassion, it's hard to see a downside in the,

Speaker 3
well, Sarah, thank you so much for joining me on my live stream. Oh, we're waiting. I have to wait. I've been informed to wait.

Speaker 2
Oh, what are we waiting on? Okay, let me ask you a question. Oh no. Can I ask the behind the scenes question? Oh, what do you, what do you think, um, now that you're a mom and really hustling on that mom from I met you when you weren't a mom. Yes. So how do you think, mom, what do you think about being a mom changes how you see the world and how you think leaders should be functioning?

Speaker 3
Absolutely. So I think that there are so many skills that come from motherhood that I did not have or maybe I had, but they were not as finely tuned as they are now. I mean multitasking, budgeting, um, program program and process improvement, working efficiently. So many things that you learn that apply to real world. I mean not that being a mom is not a real world challenge but like professional challenges. Um, I've developed so many skills from just having the kiddos and I think that my capacity for compassion has expanded greatly because I love these little, you want to compare, you want to show off your hat. I know you're very excited about your hat. I have so much compassion and love for these little folks. And he is, what are you doing? Oh, you want to bring these over here? Okay. And like I never thought that I could love something so much as I do.

Speaker 3
I never thought it was possible to love something as much as I love these guys. And that makes me believe that I can love people, I can love them so much more than, than I even realize. And I think, I don't want to say that everyone needs to be a parent because that's not the case and not everybody can, but it's, it's a wonderful opportunity. I'm really grateful that I got to do this, this in my life and I think it's made me a far better person and I think it's made me, um, more capable of so many things. Is that a good answer?

Speaker 2
So I mean, this is something when we talk about this questions that you don't really get asked when you're running for office, apart from which super power would you have? Look at leadership in these weird ways of like some dude in a suit and tie. And he walks around with a clipboard or whatever and that's supposed to be, you know, we trust that person. And I just think the notion that we're challenging that a little bit just through this election cycle here locally, but also just nationally and internationally, it's, it makes me have hope for the future.

Speaker 3
Yes, absolutely. It's going to be wonderful having you, it's going to be wonderful having you. I, it's, it's gonna I know. So everyone that's watching it is too late to mail your ballot. Do not mail your ballot. Please drop it off at the nearest drop box before May 19th at 8:00 PM correct. 8:00 PM and if you need the site, I do believe that it's at Cera 20 twenty.com/dropbox. Yeah, while we're still on. Perfect. And then, um, while you're, is there anything else that you want to, anything else that we missed? Anything else that you want to throw out there that you want our viewers to hear about? Um, yes, there is

Speaker 2
one thing you can do between now and election day besides voting. And that is if you are inspired by this campaign, you know races are won and lost in Portland's primary system. They're nonpartisan and that means if someone gets 50% of the vote plus one they go on to the November ballot unopposed and are the defacto mayor elect. And what we really need to focus on is keeping the accumbent the low 50% and making sure that we're turning out the vote for anyone but him. And so if you believe in me, if you believe in this cause, then please show up for an hour or two a phone banking. You can go to Sarah 20 twenty.com/volunteer and even if you're on the fence about me, go supporting another candidate whose values and priorities reflect yours. But whatever you do, please don't cast a vote for the incumbent and make sure that you do vote. Because for us this is an important conversation about Portland's future. We know that mayor Wheeler is going to be an office through the end of 2020. It's about who we want there on the first day of 2021 to lead us into a recovery that's going to be just equitable and actually function as opposed to the dysfunction that we're seeing right now.

Speaker 3
Wonderful. And it's going to be you. It's gotta be you. I gotta go. Alright, let's do it. You gotta be feeling, if everybody votes, they gotta go, go vote. Everyone that's watching, go vote. Don't forget. Um, thank you so much for joining me today. It was lovely talking with you. I look forward to seeing you soon. Thanks for taking time out of your day. I know you're so busy. Bye bye. This has been a production of friends of Sarah for Portland.