Funding basic services, like democracy

  • Posted on: 14 October 2010
  • By: Amanda Fritz

Pete Colt, super-volunteer and advocate in the Northwest District Association (NWDA) neigboborhood, posted the following in a comment on Willamette Week's article about me published a few weeks ago. Pete states eloquently why Yes on 26-108 is the fiscally responsible vote, as well as the choice that validates Portlanders' highest values.

Pete writes:


Commissioner Randy Leonard is the most vocal opponent of Voter Owned Elections ... and the reason he gives for his opposition is that we should be funding "Basic Services".

I agree with Mr. Leonard ... more than he agrees with himself ... as evidenced by his stadium deals ... that we should fund "Basic Services".

And what's the most "Basic" of Basic Services?

If you're reading this you know that because of our unique form of City Government ... the most "Basic" of all Basic Services is "Power".

We voters have power with a small "p" when a few well-connected $5,000.00 contributors have access to it ... and we voters have Power with a big "P" when many of us $5 donors have access to it.

Power is the Basic Service from which all other "basic services" derive ... and Power takes shape in the Basic Service called *the election process for the position of Commissioner*.

The Basic Service called "Commissioner" decides what gets spent in what part of town, which projects move forward ... and which ones don't, which legislation moves forward, what taxes are levied, what bonds are issued ... and the list of what the Basic Service called "Commissioner" controls goes on and on.

The Basic Service called "Commissioner" can be in touch or out of touch with you and other constituents, address or ignore your concerns, and increase or decrease livability in your neighborhood ... or any neighborhood in our city.

Here's an article by Andy Dworkin in The Oregonian dated May 17, 2008 that you might have read and tucked away in the back of your mind.

It explains why we're used and then thrown away after a City Council election and why the position of "Commissioner" is the Basic Service we should be funding.

Many Hands Make Light Work

Pete Colt


Thank you for your insights, Pete.

Andy's blog post talks about how traditional campaigning calls for ignoring outer neighborhoods and spending time and money on those with frequent progressive voters. See my 2006 post on BlueOregon with maps showing the addresses of the donors to my campaign, and those of the traditionally-funded incumbent.

When I ran in 2008, I campaigned on the ground in all 95 neighborhoods. I collected donations in 91 of 95. And I won every precinct in every neighborhood.

So now, I work hard to serve every neighborhood, and to give every taxpayer, ratepayer, and fee-payer value for the money you spent on my campaigns, as well as the salary you pay me each month. I work hard to provide basic services. I am happy at least one citizen considers my work a basic service, and one worth funding. Please vote Yes on 26-108