As the November election approaches, we’re once again hearing about how the progressive candidates are “toxic” and “divisive.”

But before Portlanders make up their minds about these candidates, I would like to make a suggestion. Take a minute and go talk to them.

Go have a conversation with Roberto Rodriguez or Anna Trevorrow, the two progressive school board members running for City Council. Talk to Micky Bondo, Adam Burk or Aura Russell-Bedder. Speak with former school board member and City Councilor Pious Ali.

Do they lose their temper when you disagree with them? Do they lash out at you or treat you like you’re “automatically the enemy”? Are they, in fact, “malicious” and “divisive” people?

Don’t just go by some political press release or what people say on Facebook. These are your neighbors. It’s not hard to find them.

Now, you probably won’t agree with them on every issue. Perhaps, like Tae Chong and Jon Hinck, you opposed the bond to repair the city’s four most rundown elementary schools. Or maybe, like Sarah Thompson and Jeff Irish, you would have kept funding for police officers in Portland’s schools in the budget over other needs.

Disagreement is OK. Inevitable, really. But I’m willing to bet that if you talk to these folks, you will find that, to a person, they are open, kind and friendly, and that the attacks they’re facing aren’t really about “tone” or “civility” at all.

Steven Biel

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