Equity takes center stage at the Active Transportation Forum for Mayoral Candidates

By Melinda Musser, Communications and Marketing Manager

On Monday, February 6th, Eileen Brady, Charlie Hales, and Jefferson Smith sat center-stage at Lincoln Hall on the campus of Portland State University. Over 400 people packed the house, all eager to listen to the candidates’ perspectives on a wide range of active transportation issues in our city.

We proudly co-sponsored this event along with a slew of other great nonprofit organizations. It was a pleasure to work together beforehand to help frame some tough questions for these candidates. We were especially interested to hear how they will ensure that our city’s transportation resources are distributed equitably.

The first question helped set the tone for the evening and was particularly near and dear to our hearts here at the Community Cycling Center:

“How will the City engage with low-income communities, people of color, and people with disabilities to ensure that their transportation needs are met?”

Hales noted that we should be “sensitive” to the need our communities, while referencing the Williams Avenue Project as a model for community listening. He added that the “process matters” and our community must be able to see a “beginning and an end” to the process, while not being afraid to make a decision.

As an East Portland resident, Smith stated that “27% of the population is now living in East Portland. According to the Portland Tribune, only 1.3% of stimulus dollars were spent there (Only 3.3% of transportation dollars). We have to think about doing the math equitably.” Smith went on to say that our budgets need to be linked to our hearts and our best values.

Brady’s focus was on job creation and mass transit. “East of 82nd, they want bus service to be able to get to their jobs.” Brady believes job creation will generate additional revenue for TriMet bus service through the payroll tax.

The candidates went on to debate a whole host of issues ranging from the Columbia River Crossing bridge project to their thoughts on the 2030 Bicycle Master Plan. Check out this video from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, featuring a great question on bicycle safety from Max Harlow, a 5th grade Irvington School student.

We are excited that equity took center stage at this event and are honored to have been part of such an engaging debate. It is clear that, if elected, all three candidates would make active transportation a high priority in our city. On that note, we look forward to ensuring that our future mayor will be inclusive in their planning processes and accountable to their promises.

What did you think of the debate? Which active transportation issues are most important to you? Tell us more in the comments below.

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