PORTLAND — The 10 mayoral candidates who attended the final prime-time debate of the race Thursday night had a unique experience: They didn’t do most of the talking.
Hugh Nazor, treasurer of the India Street Neighborhood Association, which hosted the event at St. Peter’s Church, spent a large part of the evening lecturing the candidates about India Street’s problems.
Other residents chimed in. The complaints included oversize developments, unresponsiveness from City Hall and problems with the Milestone Foundation, a homeless shelter and detoxification center on India Street.
“I don’t begrudge Bayside and East Bayside,” he said. “But while they’ve been getting help (from the city), we’ve been getting trouble. It’s time for some cooperation.”
Most of the debate focused on the India Street neighborhood and its future.
Most of the candidates said they would defer to residents about appropriate future development, but Markos Miller said he can already answer the question since he is plugged into the neighborhoods.
Miller said the city must push the proposed ArtSpace development proposed for S. Donald Sussman’s buildings in the Hampshire and Federal street areas.
The development would be live-work space for artists.
He also said the city must follow through on the narrowing of Franklin Street – a project he has helped lead as chairman of the Franklin Street Arterial Committee.
Peter Bryant, Hamza Haadoow, Charles Bragdon, John Eder and Richard Dodge didn’t attend the debate, which was the third in three nights.
Jodie Lapchick said the city should market India Street better. It has many vendors and culture, she said, but doesn’t get the promotion the downtown gets.
City Councilor Nicholas Mavodones, the current mayor, said the city had $600 million worth of development in the last 10 years and doesn’t need wholesale changes. City Councilor Jill Duson agreed but said the city needs to streamline its processes.
Jed Rathband said that if he is elected on Nov. 8, he will ask neighborhood organizations for lists of properties they want developed in their areas and what they would like to see there.
That would expedite the development process for interested developers, Rathband said.
City Councilor David Marshall said Franklin Street could be where the city puts the modern streetcar system that he has been advocating.
Marshall cited Portland, Ore., and Seattle, where hundreds of millions of dollars in development have sprouted near streetcar lines.
Ethan Strimling continued to advocate for more accountability at City Hall. He said the city needs to better measure employees’ performance and “incentivize” good work and “de-incentivize” poor performance to make City Hall more customer-friendly.
Ralph Carmona stressed his experience in the private and public sectors, including advocating for civil rights groups, utility districts and financial institutions.
“I have a great deal of experience, 40 years,” Carmona said. “That’s frankly longer than some of these candidates have been alive.”
Former state Sen. Michael Brennan and firefighter Chris Vail squared off about the importance of experience and the success of the city’s Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement Team.
Vail described the HOME Team – which picks up homeless people near businesses and moves them to shelters – as a “shell game” that doesn’t solve the long-term issue of increasing homelessness in the city.
Brennan said it is working. Admissions of homeless people at hospitals are down significantly since HOME began, he said.
Staff Writer Jason Singer can be contacted at 791-6437 or at: