I do not like campaigning.
In both of my campaigns for a seat on the Portland City Council, I felt like a puppy sitting in a cage at the Humane Society, paws against the wire, tail wagging, eyes pleading, “Pick me! Pick me!”. I found the constant rounds of two-minute interactions frustrating and unsatisfying – always on to the next one, rather than building a real relationship with the person I’d just met. I continually thought of a better way to answer a question in a debate… on the way home, when it was too late. I disliked seldom being able to say, “Clearly, you asked me that question because you know more about the subject than I do – what do you think?”. I felt shallow for even attempting to give the required 60 second answer to a complex question like, “How would you solve the problem of inadequate school funding in Oregon?”.
And yet having campaigned all over the constituency I am now responsible for, makes me a much, much better City Commissioner than if I had been appointed to the position with no campaign experience. I am a better City Commissioner for having campaigned in a runoff election, over the course of more than a year, visiting a wide variety of interest groups and learning more about a broad range of issues. I recognize that the runoff process taught me more than would have been possible if I had been Commissioner-elect. The dynamics change once the power is assigned.
When I ran in 2005-6, my message was essentially, “I am a woman who has twenty years’ experience in all kinds of volunteer and professional roles in Portland. I have done lots of good things in the community. I have nothing against the incumbent or any of the others running in the race, but there’s nobody like me on the City Council, and I want to help get things done, so please pick me.”
Twentyfive percent of the voters agreed. The majority did not. For a while I thought I was done with seeking political office in Oregon. The only civic engagement I did, the summer of 2006, was to volunteer on Lew Frederick’s campaign for Multnomah County Commissioner. I had attended multiple debates with Lew and other contenders for the seat, during the primary. I recognized in Lew a kindred spirit. Someone who was running not to embark on a political career, but to serve the community he loves, with the knowledge he had developed over decades of participating in Portland's many communities.
Volunteering on his campaign, I found Lew Frederick to be as honest and real behind the scenes as he appeared on stage.
And the second time I ran, I knew that the people marking their ballots need more than “I am a woman who has done good things, who will add some diversity and do good things on the Council”. Voters deserved to know not only who I am and what I’ve done in my life, but also what I planned to do for them. Because I had been through the fire of the first campaign, the rough ideas I had about the important issues facing Portland, had been refined into clear understanding and direction. Talking about using taxpayers’ money wisely to fund basic services, jobs and schools, and increasing public participation in making important decisions weren’t just campaign soundbites. Those principles were the core of why I had the courage to run again. I wanted to get those things accomplished on the City Council.
There is only one nominated candidate for the vacant State Representative position in House District 43 who has been refined by the fire of campaigning in House District 43. Lew Frederick won the district in the 2006 Multnomah County Commission race. And the reason he won it is not just that he is a great person, who would add unique diversity since there are no African-American men in the Oregon Legislature. It’s not just that he has decades of experience, as a volunteer and professionally, investing in issues that people in District 43 care about. Schools - Oregon Board of Education member, former Portland Public Schools employee. Jobs - small businesses owner and Urban Renewal expert, co-author of research on the Portland Development Commission’s influence on Northeast Portland. Arts and Culture, and Sciences – Board member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and of OMSI. Human Rights and workers' rights - former union steward, longtime community organizer. Citizen and political involvement - extensive investment in and work for the Democratic Party, Board member of the Bus Project. The reason Lew Frederick won District 43 is that he addressed the issues voters in District 43 care about. There is no other candidate for appointment to the vacant seat in District 43 who has refined their thinking, their approach, and their plans through campaigning, and who has proven to have earned the trust of voters in District 43.
As a Portland City Commissioner, I know that the entire Metro-area delegation is pivotal in deciding how the Legislature will act. That is one reason I am posting this endorsement. I want the new House Representative for District 43 to be someone with experience at the grassroots level, with a history of service to House District 43. Someone committed to staying in House District 43. Lew’s priorities are schools, good jobs, and health care. They stem from his life experiences. Those priorities are the ones I believe should be the Legislature’s in 2010. I believe they are the priorities of voters in District 43.
Leadership requires heart, brains, guts, and memory. The Multnomah County Commissoners should appoint Lew Frederick in HD 43 because he is more qualified, more experienced, more well-rounded, more prepared, and more campaign-tested than any other candidate.
More information about Lew Frederick for HD 43 here