Our City. Our Future. Our Choice.
#OurPortland
#OurPortland Podcast

State of #OurPortland

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About this Episode

July 22, 2020

Sarah's State of #OurPortland address, delivered on Saturday, July 18th, 2020. Video of her address is available online at sarah2020.com/state.

Have a question for Sarah? Email it to [email protected].

Transcript

Announcer
Welcome to the, #OurPortland podcast with Sarah Iannarone. This is an audio cast of the State of #OurPortland Address delivered by Sarah on Saturday, July 18th, 2020. For more information about Sarah's campaign to become Portland's next mayor, or to get involved, please visit Sarah2020.com. And now here's Sarah.
Sarah
My name is Sarah Iannarone. My pronouns are she/her. And with your help, I plan to be the next Mayor of Portland, Oregon. I come before you this evening to give you the State of #OurPortland Address because our city is crying out for leadership in these unprecedented times. And because I am ready to lead the city into the future. For those who don't know me, I'm a mom, an entrepreneur, and almost overly engaged community member. I've spent the last decade at Portland State University studying and teaching urban leaders from around the world, what makes a city a great place to live. I love Portland with every fiber of my being and have dedicated my life to making it the best place it can be. I invested in opening a business here, sent my kids to Portland Public Schools, and I volunteer countless hours in service to community.
Sarah
I have rolled up my sleeves week after week alongside you, my neighbors, in the streets, on the ground, hands in the dirt, making this the best place it can be. But as beautiful as Portland is, I love the people who make up our city even more. I love our artists and creatives, our founders, our makers, our cooks, and our caregivers, our teachers and advocates, our cyclists and our bus drivers. And when I see you in the streets, I usually say "Hey neighbor!" because it's knowing that I live near you, the entrepreneurs, the musicians, the parents and grandparents that makes me love Portland most. There's nowhere else on earth I would rather be and nothing to which I'm more strongly committed than harnessing our resources and empowering our communities, so we can reclaim our status as a world leader in progressive change-making. I love Portland and each of you, dearly. But let me be honest.
Sarah
I'm angry and I'm frustrated and I'm saddened, and I'm increasingly horrified by the direction this city is headed. And that is why I am running for mayor. This is not a time for more of the same. This is a time for change. The dearly departed civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis once wrote, and I quote "We're involved now in a serious revolution. The nation is still a place of cheap political leaders who build their careers on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic, and social exploitation. What political leader here can stand up and say, my Party is the Party of principles?" And it was his contemporary, the Dr Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr who astutely observed that a riot is the language of the unheard. And our city has seen unprecedented rioting and sustained nightly peaceful protest because for too long, the people of this city have been unheard and have seen their elected leaders make compromises with immoral systems.
Sarah
The Portland Police Department was condemned by the federal government under the Obama Administration for its unjustifiable use of force. The names of black Portlanders lost a police killing should be known to every one of you listening tonight. Lloyd "Tony" Stevenson, Kendra James, Deontae Keller, Quanice Hayes, Patrick Kimmons, Keaton Otis, Terrell Kareem Johnson, Andre Gladen, Aaron Campbell, James Jahar Akbar Perez, Christopher Kalonji, and Jason Washington. The names are too many. Our community is hungry for justice and so am I. We demand to be heard by an out of touch status quo that believes our problems can be solved with tear gas and bullets. Donald Trump, and his corrupt, hateful bunch despise what we aspire to here. Equity, inclusivity, sustainability are poison to them. The Alt-Right has been trying to turn our sanctuary city into an ideological battleground. And we have come together time and again, as a community in joyful resistance.
Sarah
Now in an election year, a flailing Trump has set his sights on progressive Portland to score cheap political points. And why wouldn't he? The current mayor has consistently distinguished between good protestors and bad, and insisted that there are good people on both sides. Portland Police under the current Mayor have conspired with an embedded the Alt-Right while brutalizing, Anti-Fascist protesters, without consequence. What Wheeler lets his police get away with is what Trump thinks he can get away with. And what we let Trump get away with here in Portland, he can get away with anywhere. The way we show up in resistance as a community in unity is the testament daily to our values. There is no justification for anyone in Portland, civilian, or municipal employee cooperating with this occupying army, Trump's secret police. And that's why I've been critical of the Wheeler Administration for enabling the conditions of this uprising by opposing police accountability, throwing good money after bad in his ballooning police budgets. As police commissioner, he has overseen months of violent police repression of protestors, but not just this last 50 days, in countless other contexts, since Trump's election. The proper response to protests against police brutality is not more police brutality.
Sarah
We need a mayor who gets that and who has stood with the people and will continue standing with the people against the violence police are inflicting on us. The Department of Homeland Security has no place in our city. And the violent tactics Trump and Wheeler's police are using have no place in #OurPortland. But before the most recent uprising, we had this pandemic, COVID-19. It was a shock to our collective system. We ran our primary through it. It's hard to comprehend how much our lives have changed in the last few short months. I want to give all of Portland's love and admiration to the amazing frontline and care workers who keep our city safe and healthy. On their behalf, I wear my mask when I'm in public and everyone else should, too. I stay home to [save] lives because I can. And so should everyone who can. America leads the world and coronavirus deaths because of our delusional president's insistence that the stock market is more important than human lives.
Sarah
And because some people seem to always refuse to listen to experts and their ignorance puts us all at risk. Countless people are out of work or just coming back after months off. The small business I founded was forced to close because of COVID, which was heartbreaking. And I worked many years in the service sector. So I know that steady trickle of tips or a few hours of overtime is what actually pays the bills. And when those dry up you feel it immediately. The State Unemployment Insurance Program has been stretched to its breaking point and countless Oregonians still haven't received the money they need. Many others, they don't even qualify. But beyond loss of income and I'm not diminishing how important that loss of income is, but there are other losses that are hard, I know. And many of us are feeling that loss of [connection]. We're disconnected from our neighborhood cafe or coffee shop, from the Moda Center or our favorite branch of the Multnomah County Library, from the Zoo or OMSI or our favorite creative arts venue.
Sarah
Those are more than just jobs or entertainment to Portlanders. They're what we love about our city. And when we don't have access to them, it feels like we've had some part of our city, our home, taken away from us. But even before COVID we had Portland's housing crisis, which has only been made worse by the pandemic and which has always hit black, brown, and indigenous people harder because of systemic racism. This crisis always hit low income communities harder than those of us, with the privilege of home ownership or stable incomes. And for many in our community, their homes were already taken from them by skyrocketing rents and evictions. As Americans, and as Portlanders, we have a long and shameful history to atone for in housing. Discrimination takes many forms from those refusing to rent to an immigrant family, to those who have a Black Lives Matter sign in the yard, but who argue against policy that might bring them more black and brown neighbors through construction of affordable housing or allowing multifamily housing in their neighborhood.
Sarah
We have more people unhoused today than we did when Ted Wheeler took office, despite passage of the Portland Housing Bond, by you, the voters and taxpayers. The lack of progress this administration has made on affordable housing is shameful. I've seen their inflated claims of success. Ask any of the people sleeping at Skidmore fountain tonight if Ted Wheeler has made a difference in their life. Ask anyone who's been a renter this last few years, how that's going. Wheeler promised to fix this housing crisis. And not only did he not keep his word, it's getting worse. And I've not even touched on our urgent need for community led climate action. But I really can't bear more disappointing news today. I've depressed even myself, talking about it a little bit, all the things that are going wrong here in Portland. It's time we focused on optimism because that bleak picture I just gave of where Portland is today, that is not #OurPortland. And it may not always feel like we can turn a ship this big around to affect the change we need within the short timeframe in which we need it. But I believe we can. And what undergirds that belief is necessity. We have no viable, moral or practical alternative. We must engage optimism actively as a tool for social change. When we default to despair over hope, cynicism over engagement, confusion over vision, in these critical times, we seed our power as a community to special interests with centuries of investment in the status quo. And that status quo is not #OurPortland. Right now, Donald Trump is using Portland as a political photo op, gassing peaceful protesters. Our current mayor is doing nothing to stop it. And Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty told him in a public letter today, you are putting our community at risk.
Sarah
That is not #OurPortland. Coronavirus cases in Oregon are hitting records statewide, and in Multnomah County, while we follow Donald Trump's orders to reopen. That's not #OurPortland. #OurPortland listens to experts and evidence not wealthy business interests concerned about the stock market. Reopening when it could lead to loss of human life is not #OurPortland. And so this week I put out the call that our state should not be reopening. We should be staying at home to keep frontline workers safe. We should be demanding, guaranteed income as myself and mayors across the country are demanding. We should issue a statewide rent freeze for residential and commercial properties, saving our small businesses, what is their largest cost, and lessening the need to sustain payroll for employees, their next largest expense. These are common sense policy demands. And our current mayor has failed to represent our city's best interests.
Sarah
He instead compromises with know-nothings in Washington, DC, and frankly, that is not #OurPortland. #OurPortland is a city where everyone who is loving is welcome no matter who they are or where they're from. A city where communities of color don't have to live in fear of racist violence, because in #OurPortland, we stand up against hate, even when it is dangerous. In #OurPortland, when fascist decides to have a rally to bully and pick a fight with us, thousands more of us show up than them. And some of us even dress up as bananas and play in a marching band to tell those fascists to go to hell. In #OurPortland, we don't just say Black Lives Matter. We put it into law by making real, the demands of black led organizations for community wellbeing that cut, police waste and invest and protect black Portlanders.
Sarah
#OurPortland is a city where we innovate to ensure safety for all. Where you'll be able to call 911, knowing emergency response will make everyone safer, not just a few people. #OurPortland is a city where we acknowledge that our neighborhoods were carved out along racist lines, literally. And we are willing to undo that historic injustice because black lives matter, not just in past and present interactions with police, but in modern and historic interactions with landlords, realtors, and bankers. #OurPortland is a city where we listen to science and where we take care of one another in ways big and small. In #OurPortland we know climate change is real, and that two out of three Portlanders voted to put real money into clean energy by holding major corporations accountable. I'm sorry to tell you that the current Mayor of Portland stood opposed to the Portland Clean Energy Fund on behalf of the Portland Business Alliance. That's the same PBA who recently got caught blaming Black Lives Matter protesters for their COVID-related losses.
Sarah
However, I'm pleased to inform you that as the next Mayor of Portland, you won't see me flip-flopping on climate policy with the winds of public opinion. I will unequivocally fight for a Green New Deal for #OurPortland making climate-smart investments in the future of our city, that will power our economic recovery through COVID and beyond. We can and we will address climate change with bold investments in the jobs and infrastructure of the next century, not the fossil fuel infrastructure of the last one. In #OurPortland we take care of our democracy, too. And two out of three Portlanders voted to put real spending limits on political candidates, because we don't believe that the person with the most money or the most establishment connections deserves the most votes. We believe that the person with the most grassroots support deserves the most votes. And I am proud to say that this campaign for mayor has more individual donors, thousands, and thousands of you, than any campaign for mayor in the history of the city, past or present.
Sarah
And I'm sorry to tell you that the current Mayor of Portland continues to violate our Open and Accountable Elections Law, and fought it in court all while taking huge checks from Trump cronies like Gordon Sondland. I'm proud to say that our campaign, after a decade of sustained advocacy by some of you here, is the first to qualify for and participate in the city's new Publicly Financed Election Program. And we are taking on the monied interests. I'm so excited to say that we can win this thing because grassroots activists built this campaign and we have now leveled the playing field for everyday Portlanders who can afford to write $5 checks instead of $5,000 checks. It's a magnificent accomplishment and we're very proud of it. But it doesn't stop there. Real democracy means we move away from establishing one more advisory committee that has no power and no purpose.
Sarah
I know you're nodding your heads. If you're on these committees with me and attend these meetings with me. I testify there. I watch you testify there. We go time and again, and decision makers ignore us. We need true accountability bodies that we empower to make decisions when our elected, appointed, and employed city officials fail to act. To the employees of the city, I want you to know I support you. And as your mayor, I will work to keep you employed and keep the city working. Even as we face lost revenue due to COVID. But if a city employee, if a police officer hurts or kills someone while doing their job, you don't just work for me. You work for the public who pays your salary, and you need to be able to answer for what you do in the name of this city, personally. And I will support holding individuals personally responsible for their conduct. No more hiding behind your office or your station.
Sarah
And I expect to be held to the same standard when I'm your mayor. And I will continue to press to make our city accountable and transparent, while I clean up the corrupting influence of major corporations on our policy making. #OurPortland is a combined vision of the city that we have to, that we get to create together and protect together every single day. #OurPortland is a civically engaged place where we all contribute to the solutions that will impact our lives. #OurPortland is a thriving city that every one of us has a part in creating: community activists, neighbors, workers, youth and seniors, students and educators, black, brown, indigenous, Asian, white, Latinx, Middle Eastern, Pacific Islander, African, Slavic, multi-racial, able and disabled, queer and trans, citizen, resident, undocumented, gendered, and nonbinary, every last one of us has an important role to play in making #OurPortland, the city it deserves to be, the city we all deserve, the city our children deserve, and that the future requires. #OurPortland is a city where we take back the streets for the people, for mass transit, for racial, social and environmental justice. #OurPortland is one where we strive for excellence, not settle for mediocrity. #OurPortland is a city that is weirdly successful at a time when this nation has been on a years-long decline. I want #OurPortland to be a city that people look to and say "Wow, isn't it weird that Portland is doing so well? Isn't it weird that people in Portland are so happy with their quality of life? Isn't it weird that Portland is in a Renaissance while other cities are losing their global competitiveness?" And as your mayor, I'll be able to tell them it isn't all that weird. It's just #OurPortland.
Sarah
And so now to make this happen, I'm going to ask you for three things. First of all, I need your vote. If you want details about the policies and plans I've alluded to here, they're on my website at Sarah2020.com. I am ready to go on day one with the community, with you, by my side. Second, we need your enthusiasm. There's so much bad going on in the city. And there's a whole lot of noise because people are fed up with it and they're demanding change. And I'm with you. And I'm vocal about it, even when it gets me in trouble. But I need you to step up, too, and tell everyone you know that you're voting for Sarah Iannarone to take down Ted Wheeler and put a stop to this madness. It's taken over Portland on his watch, and this is no time for Portland polite.
Sarah
It's time to turn our collective voices up to 11 and demand change. And finally, as much as I wish campaigns ran on unfettered, optimism, in reality, they run on people power and money. If you have time, we have an amazing field team ready to plug you into this movement for police accountability, climate justice, and transformative policy that moves Portland ahead. I can't do this without you. We're going to win this campaign the way we do best, powered by a grassroots community with an unrelenting optimism that this city's best days are ahead of us. Let's make this a city that works for everyone, not just the business interests who want to see this campaign end, and Ted Wheeler reelected. Portland this is our chance. We've got this. Let's win this in November. Thank you very much. Be healthy. Be well. Be safe.
Announcer
Thanks for listening to #OurPortland. If you have a question for Sarah, record a voice memo on your phone and email it to [email protected] If you appreciate a campaign with straight talk on issues that matter, consider signing up to be a monthly supporter. Find out more at Sarah2020.com. This has been a production of friends of Sarah for Portland, with matching funds from Portland's Open and Accountable Elections.