I am just as concerned as everyone else about the recent erosion of civility in our local politics. I grew up here, and I can’t remember a time when political attacks have been as vicious and personal. Showing up on the City Hall steps with baby products in some weird attempt to demean our hardworking, and certainly well-intentioned, city manager? Come on.

But absent from the conversation are the more tangible ways this civic erosion is harming our city. Three immediately come to mind.

–  First, repeated studies suggest that as politics become more polarized, citizens start to check out of the process altogether. I worry that this new line of vitriol could dampen our city’s rich history of engaged citizenship.

–  Second, the distortion of select issues drains the already limited time of city staff and elected officials. Manufactured crises in the form of “action alerts” lead to overflowing in-boxes for our public servants and distract their attention from the real issues their constituents face.

–  Third, I want people and businesses who are considering moving to Portland to get the right impression of our city. We are a friendly and welcoming city, and I worry that the recent headlines don’t do that justice.

There’s only so much we can demand of groups that operate in the shadows of campaign finance laws. But we can demand that our elected officials and candidates not tolerate these politics any longer and condemn groups like Progressive Portland that promote and engage in such tactics.

This November, I plan to support only candidates who refuse to associate with this group or its leaders and who aspire to a better politics for our city. I hope you will join me.

Simon Thompson

Portland