Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 3rd, 2012 at 11:43 am
with Portland resident Joel Shapiro as they
ride on the Eastbank Esplanade.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith has set himself apart from his challengers by not being much of an everyday bike rider. However, despite his lack of biking credentials, he managed to snag the endorsement of the Bike Walk Vote PAC. On Friday, he added to his bike-friendly profile by leading a Pedalpalooza ride.
Organized by volunteers with Bike Walk Vote, participants met on the Eastbank Esplanade and heard Smith speak on a variety of issues on stops along the river and throughout downtown. While Pedalpalooza is often connected to naked bike rides and costumed craziness, this ride was all about policy.
With a conversation stoked by Bike Walk Vote volunteer Michael O'Leary and questions from ride participants, we heard Smith explain his positions on everything from campaign finance to homelessness and from coal exports to the Columbia River Crossing project.
Smith's explained that he's bullish on biking because of basic economics. He feels a strong case can be made to advance active transportation by explaining the positive economic impact of a Portland with fewer cars. "How do we solve transportation problems at a lower price point?" he wondered at the outset of the ride, "We must be cost-conscious." He also sees dollar signs in Portland being a national leader in bicycling. But, in keeping with his focus on equity and inclusion, he implored those in attendance to remember that in order for bicycling to succeed in Portland, "We must make sure the dream works for more people."
Smith referred to the controversial CRC project (which attracted two lawsuits yesterday) somewhat dismissively as, "that highway proposed to Clark County."
As for his prospects of actually doing something to stop the project, Smith said, "If the political power structure remains what it is now, City Council can't do a thing." But, he added that, if Portland makes its voice heard through this mayor's race, it would, "Send a signal to our Congressional delegation that maybe we ought to pivot to a Plan B." (And for Smith, that plan might look like theCommon Sense Alternative.)
When it comes to campaign financing, Smith said he subscribes to a "creepiness standard" when deciding whether or not to accept money from lobbyists. "I turn money down if it makes me feel creepy." He referred to the role of mayor as being, "a fiduciary for the people."
While much of the discussion wasn't about bicycling, this was still a bike ride. While we pedaled, many different people rode up alongside Smith to ask him questions and to just introduce themselves. It was great to see a mayoral candidate spend quality time on a Friday afternoon to engage with citizens; and even better still that he did it while bicycling.
— See a few more photos from the ride here.