Enthusiasm! Dan Saltzman!

  • Posted on: 2 May 2010
  • By: Amanda Fritz

I know, I know, those three words are rarely seen together. In sixteen months of working with Dan, I think the most intense display of positive emotion I've seen from him has been a satisfied smile and a comment on the lines of, "That went well". And that was after Nick Fish, Dan and I persuaded the Council to unite in saving the ratepayers $500 million by choosing ultraviolet rather than filtration treatment if we are forced to treat Bull Run water. Half a billion dollars saved. "That went well."

Still, I am enthusiastic in my support for Dan being elected to another term. He's the right person for the job, and his record shows he deserves to keep doing it.

What a difference four years makes.

This time in 2006, I was the first candidate to qualify for Portland's innovative Public Campaign Finance funding, when I challenged Commissioner Dan Saltzman for the Position # 3 seat. I was always careful to note that I was running because I thought I'd be good for Portland, rather than because I had any particular beefs with the incumbent, but I was campaigning 18 hours every day hoping to win the seat. I was attending up to nine job interviews daily, seven days a week, often trying to explain to voters in one minute or less why they should vote for me. On May 20, 2006, I was crushed when viewing the election night returns showing I had earned only 25% of the vote, not enough to force a runoff.

That outcome was the best possible result for Portland, and for me.

I am not sorry I ran for the Position # 3 seat in 2006 seat, but I am very glad I lost. The months of soul-searching and evaluating what Portland really needs, between the 2006 loss and when I filed to run for the open Position # 1 seat in 2007, helped me focus, identify priorities, and clarify promises I could keep -- that I am keeping. Spending taxpayers' money wisely. Promoting jobs and schools. Truly engaging and informing Portlanders about decisions that affect you.

And, my loss in 2006 kept Commissioner Dan Saltzman in office. And now that I work with him inside City Hall, I can tell you that is A Very Good Thing.

Dan doesn't play the media or the PR strategy. He quietly goes about doing good work, not seeking glory or praise for his actions. He doesn't play political games, never trading a vote on one issue in exchange for a vote on another. He makes decisions on the facts and public interest as he sees them. Like me, he rarely even co-sponsors an Ordinance or Resolution with another member of Council, respecting as I do that public hearings should help decide an outcome, rather than the decision being pre-determined. When he decides to stand firm on a principle, he's solid, yet he is also willing to change his mind and publicly acknowledge that he's done so, when compelling new information arises. Some said his change of actions on the Officer Humphreys suspension/desk duty issue was a "flip-flop". I saw it as commendable response to new information, and a compromise that kept a police officer working in administrative tasks instead of paying him to stay home.

Dan is principled and fiscally responsible. When people question me on media and campaign misinformation regarding "sewer money for bike paths", my response is, "Using sewer money for bike paths would be illegal. That's not what we voted for, and that's not how your rate money is being used." I can say that with confidence because I know Dan Saltzman, like me, is keeping a close watch over ratepayers' dollars. He consistently, persistently, and continually asks questions at Council regarding appropriate use of sewer and water rates.

Dan Saltzman is doing an excellent job as Commissioner-in-Charge of the Police Bureau, through some very difficult circumstances and inherited problems. Working with Chief Rosie Sizer, he is transforming the culture and accountability of the Police Bureau. He doesn't manage his bureaus or interact with his colleagues through press releases and interviews, rather he has constructive discussions out of the spotlight to further improvements. For example, he invited me to work with him on identifying better ways to avoid adverse interactions between police officers and people experiencing mental health emergencies, and was the driving force in defining the actions in our joint report. Now, Dan and I are working with the Mayor on funding those actions. Collaboration is the key to solving some of the decades-old problems facing community and police relations. I believe Dan is the best choice on City Council to manage the Police Bureau.

Beyond all this, Dan Saltzman has a record of success getting things done to solve problems. He recognizes that addressing domestic violence, prostitution, and child abuse problems by funding programs to support victims is cost-effective and compassionate, and reduces police costs. I used to question why the City should fund services traditionally the responsibilty of Multnomah County. Now I recognize, as Dan has for years, that City funding of preventative and treatment measures saves taxpayers' money that would otherwise be needed for police services - as well as being more compassionate and effective. That's wise use of scarce resources.

Dan founded the Office of Sustainability and pushed the City to address environmental issues long before green industries were recognized as an essential component of our economic development stategy. Now, green technology is identified by the Portland Development Commission and Mayor Adams as one of our core target industries. Portland attracts businesses because of the number and quality of buildings certified as meeting environmental sustainability standards. Green means bucks as well as chlorophyll.

On a personal note, Dan has been extremely gracious, encouraging, and respectful to me. He makes extra effort to recognize my contributions to fostering collaboration between Council members, as well as often supporting my work and direction. He's generous in sharing credit, and reluctant to publicize others' mistakes. He's solid and dependable and kind. He cares about public service and public services. He shows up at community events that don't get much attention, such as grade school visits and domestic violence fundraisers.

So, the photo above is the front of our house in 2010 - a little different from the view four years ago. I no longer have time to dig the dandelions out of the front lawn moss-meadow, and I proudly display Dan's yard sign instead of mine. Because I spend so much time inside City Hall, I know Portland will be best served by supporting my colleague Dan Saltzman for re-election to the Portland City Council. Please join me in voting for Dan.


NOTE: I also enthusiastically support Nick Fish for re-election. The outcome in that race seems certain, so I'll reserve a blog post talking about why I so appreciate working with Nick for another time.