I am the first to acknowledge the validity of different political viewpoints, even those I don’t agree with, but only harm comes when arguments turn personal, and “my-way-or-the-highway” politics become the norm. This fall, the most frequent comment I’ve heard from people is some version of “I don’t know how you stand it up there”. And while my standard response has been to smile and acknowledge that I don’t know either, I want to reiterate that despite the difficulties, I’m grateful to represent this city. We are getting things done, and –perhaps just as significantly-- we have been able to block some very bad policies from taking effect.
We found funds to rebuild the Hall Elementary School, to support the rail improvements at the international Marine terminal, and expand the homestead exemption. We increased funding for higher and K-12 education, and we passed legislation encouraging local community renewable energy. We also stopped the Governor’s devastating cuts proposed for the Drugs for the Elderly program and a dangerous weakening of mining rules, just to note a few examples.
There’s every indication that the upcoming session will continue to be a roller coaster ride, likely to be made worse by posturing around next year’s critical election. That said, I remain what is probably best described as a “pathological optimist” – I believe that good things can happen when we focus on the immediate work at hand, bill by bill, issue by issue. And while that’s not necessarily the expansive statewide vision I would prefer, it is a pragmatic approach to assure that we will, at the end of next year, continue to make progress, regardless of what happens around us. I’m grateful for my talented and very hard working colleagues in the Portland delegation, and for the hard work of city officials, led by Mayor Brennan, who has been relentless in coordinating our efforts, and advocating for this city and its needs.
As for the coming session, I’d just urge you to hold on tight.