Running for the District 1 seat on the Charter Commission has been a learning experience for me as a first-time candidate. I entered the race knowing that there was a lot I didn’t know, and knowing that I would look to those more knowledgeable than myself to help guide my campaign.

That said, I knew that I had no interest in engaging in any type of behavior that could create harm to others. In other words, no infighting or mudslinging – it’s that type of behavior that turns people off.

While I hold views that most commonly are considered progressive, I also understand that the eventual charter commissioners will need to be willing to listen to both other commissioners as well as our constituents. After weeks of knocking on doors throughout District 1, I can say this is critical. Voters want and need to be heard, and they want to be honestly represented. Commissioners will need to work across differences and reach consensus to create recommendations and revisions that will ultimately benefit all Portland residents.

Which is why, as a candidate, I am writing this: Certain groups, no matter how well meaning, are creating seeds of discontent and creating tensions that simply have no place in this race. While it is OK to endorse certain candidates, it’s not OK to create a level of negativity and confusion to the point where voters are receiving mailers that candidates had no say in creating or sending out and that are stoking divisions. People First Charter resorted to the type of divisive rhetoric that is discouraging to a first-time candidate. It’s also a level of business as usual in the political arena that rarely creates change. Instead, it turns people off from candidates and voting. In recent years, Portland voters have made it clear that they aren’t interested in this style of politics and it has no place in our city.

This race has seen an unprecedented number of candidates, many of whom do share core beliefs and many of whom are first-time candidates who represent diverse backgrounds. But when others choose to speak on our behalf with a predetermined agenda, without our consent, it harms us.

As a candidate, I come to this process holding certain beliefs and values, but I also come with integrity and a belief that how we treat each other in this process matters as well.

I chose to run for this position because I believe that our city desperately needs new and more humane ways of being that can create a Portland for everyone. I believe that a lifetime of being in service to others has given me the tools – namely, consensus building and facilitation skills – that will be needed in the Charter Commission process. I would ask voters to do their research and look at individual candidates and not fall prey to the urgings of outside groups.

Many excellent candidates are running for Charter Commission, and I know that these tactics do not speak for them. They did not consent to these tactics being used in their name. I most certainly have not. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we get back to the issues of this campaign that will impact the lives of all Portland residents. I look forward to spending these last days before the June 8 election continuing to meet with District 1 constituents.

The Charter Commission is an opportunity to revisit and, where necessary, make the changes that accurately reflect both the moment we are in, as well as the moments we envision in the coming years. While the charter was reopened specifically to consider the issue of clean elections in our local races, it is also an opportunity to revisit issues beyond clean elections. While many candidates, including myself, have offered thoughts, on issues, despite what we feel at this moment, ultimately the commission must carry out the will of the people, all Portland residents.

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