Portland Commissioner, Position 2: Dan Ryan

The winner of this race will serve the two years left on Nick Fish’s term. Fish died of cancer earlier this year.

First off, avoid the grim, Margot Black at all costs. She’s a dour Chloe Eudaly clone who thinks that private property should be outlawed. Stabbers? Let them live on every street corner and even in every back yard.

After that, looking over who has a legit chance to win, it’s a four-person race between Dan Ryan, Loretta Smith, Sam Chase and Tera Hurst. Vote for Ryan.

Ryan served on the Portland Public School Board a decade ago and has remained active in education. On homelessness, he’s the only candidate we’ve seen that outright says the Home for Everyone model isn’t working. He’s right. “Too often, it’s the same people at the same tables making the same decisions that got us into this mess,” Ryan told The Oregonian.

Street Roots, the Village Coalition and other homeless advocates profit from government throwing money at them to maintain the status quo. That needs to change. Ryan also supports getting campers off the streets and into shelters quickly, not just as some years-long strategy. He’ll be a solid voice for making Portland less stabby.

The other three contenders fall on a sliding scale from anti-stabby to Chloe Eudaly.

Smith is an okay choice. When she was on the county commission, she was the only commissioner who supported using Wapato as a public homeless services center and shelter. Her history of being abrasive with staff, however, raises questions about her suitability. She also doesn’t seem to be running much of a campaign. Maybe she’s still stinging from losing two years ago to Joanne Hardesty.

Chase is problematic because his solution to homelessness is to keep throwing money at the providers and strategies that haven’t worked. He serves on the Metro Council and helped put the 2018 affordable housing bond and this year’s homeless services measure on the ballot. If you want more of the same failure, vote for Chase.

And then there’s Hurst, who has raised a surprising amount of money. She falls solidly at the Eudaly end of the stabbiness spectrum. She has no plan to deal with the immediate impacts of homelessness and only a bad plan to deal with the long-term challenges. She was chief of staff to the disastrous Mayor Charlie Hales, who single-handedly not only watched but shoved Portland down the path to becoming Stabtown. Enough said.

A couple of other candidates warrant mention in this crowded field.

The candidate with the best take on homelessness in the race is Terry Parker. “My philosophy is to provide a hand up toward self sufficiency instead of everlasting handouts,” he told The Oregonian. He gets it, if in a slightly superficial way. The problem is that Parker is also a crotchety retiree who has no business running a dynamic city like Portland. We can’t endorse him.

Jack Kerfoot would bring an engineer’s practical sensibilities to the office. He’s the sort of person who would get things done. We had a chance to have a lengthy chat with him and believe he’d come at the problem with data-driven analysis that is sorely needed.

Finally, Aquiles Montás can go to hell for singling out North Portland to be a homeless dumping ground. He told The Oregonian he would “investigate the possibility of expanding the use of camping trailers and mobile homes in parking areas adjacent to shopping centers, such as the Delta Park and Jantzen Beach areas.” Really? You couldn’t think of a shopping center anywhere else in the city but NoPo, which has already had more than its share of homelessness dumped on it by the city. What’s wrong with the parking lots around the Raleigh Hills Fred Meyer or the Woodstock Safeway? There are plenty of big parking lots in upscale parts of the city. How about they take a turn living with the stabbers?

This race is almost certain to go to a runoff in November between the top two vote getters. Make sure that one of them is Dan Ryan.

Dan Ryan