Politics doesn’t have to be mean or snarky. Good people can work together in good faith, so while some in Portland are focused on tearing down opponents or sharpening elbows to gain an advantage, a small group of candidates is trying a different approach. And it’s working.

I’m one of the many people running for Charter Commission in Portland (I’m an at-large candidate), and I want to tell you about a great experience I’ve had.

This is my first time running for office, and I’ve had to learn a lot, work hard, deal with stress, push past my comfort zone and make tough decisions. That’s fine – I signed up for this. And it’s worth it to be part of the discussion about Portland’s present and future. My conversations with voters have been valuable and thought-provoking. Most of us agree that our city is unique, has a lot to offer and deserves careful and compassionate leadership.

While collecting signatures to get on the ballot – and really, it’s illogical that we had to collect 300 signatures each, during snow season, during a pandemic – I had a chance to meet some of the other candidates. One of them, Em Burnett (who has since withdrawn from the race for personal reasons), had a genius – and radical – idea. What if we got a few of us together to collaborate on the things we have in common?

The result is the Rose Slate, which consists of four first-time candidates, all women. Together with a few dedicated volunteers, we’ve been working in a collaborative, positive atmosphere that’s rare in politics anywhere.

My fellow Rose Slate members – Catherine Buxton, Nasreen Sheikh-Yousef and Shay Stewart-Bouley – have helped me get my name out, because as a wheelchair user, I have trouble navigating the city to knock doors. I’ve tried to support them, both in tangible and intangible ways, offering my writing skills and encouragement. We have all helped uplift one another as the campaign has become more intense and stressful.

When was the last time you heard of candidates working for one another instead of against one another? Wouldn’t it be great if it were always that way?

After the election, the people the voters choose for the Charter Commission must work together, understanding our different perspectives, setting aside our egos to focus on the task ahead. Rose Slate candidates are coming in with an advantage: We’ve spent months doing the hard work of collaborative decision-making, learning from one another’s experiences and preparing to bring those lessons into the larger political arena.

No matter who is elected, I feel like I’ve formed bonds that will become a lasting part of whatever work I do to help build a better city. The election will be over soon, but the city’s challenges will be with us for decades to come.

I hope voters will look to the Rose Slate for inspiration. Elect a Charter Commission comprised of people who already know what it means to work for the common good. Please make a plan to get your absentee ballot or get to the polls June 8.


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