Election Notes: Commissioner Seat #2

With just over one week left before ballots are due, here are my thoughts on the race to fill Seat #2 on Portland’s City Council.

City Council candidate Nick Fish-3.jpg

Nick Fish
(Photos © J. Maus)
Jim Middaugh City Council candidate-3.jpg

Jim Middaugh

The Council seat formerly held by Commissioner Erik Sten will likely be won by either Jim Middaugh or Nick Fish — two highly qualified candidates who would both make excellent commissioners. (I know there are three other candidates in this race, but these are the only two who made an effort to share their views with BikePortland readers.)

Both candidates have picked up endorsements from respected groups and media outlets all over town, Middaugh got nods from Bike.Walk.Vote, the Portland Mercury, and others, while Fish has been endorsed by the Portland Tribune and The Oregonian just to name a few.

Which candidate will do the best job in continuing to create a city where more people bike more often more safely? I’ll let you decide. If you want more information before making your decision, read more of my thoughts below…

Jim Middaugh – JimForPortland.com
As an ardent environmental activist and a daily bike commuter for the past 10 years, Middaugh clearly “gets” how important biking — and the issues surrounding it — are to Portland. When I profiled him in January I openly wondered if he was “a great hope for bikes”.

In that interview, Middaugh said he deserved your vote because he has a first-person perspective on biking:

“I ride every day and I’ve ridden all over the streets of Portland for over 10 years. I think that creates a basic empathy that just wouldn’t be there in people that don’t do it every day. I’ve pulled up to bloodied bodies from crashes, I’ve been doored…Others may be sympathetic to bike issues, but it’s just not the same unless you’re out there, riding every day.”

In addition to being a daily biker, Middaugh has impressive and diverse environmental credentials — from his work on the Endangered Species Act to his vocal opposition to the Columbia River Crossing Project (which he likened to “a snake swallowing an elephant”).

Sauvie Span Rally-4.jpg

Middaugh attended the Flanders
crossing rally.

The appeal with Middaugh is that you don’t often find a candidate with such a solid mix of bike/environmental/urban planning credentials. And yes, he’s also got a lot of big ideas about how Portland can keep pushing toward a more bike-friendly future.

On the issue of transportation, Middaugh claims on his website that, “The bicycle remains one of humanity’s greatest inventions, and must be among our solutions to traffic congestion and climate change.” He says he’ll fight to improve bike safety, be vigilant to make sure land-use and growth decisions are integrated with bike plans, and that he’ll even “support the creation of more trails for mountain bikers.”

Also, when I spoke with him back in January, he told me he wanted Portland to start doing more “bike only days” on selected routes throughout the city.

I have no doubt that Middaugh would use his Council seat to help make biking better in Portland. His enthusiasm and understanding of bikes as transportation could push us well beyond Platinum.

Nick Fish – NickFish2008.com
Also vying for Sten’s vacated Council is lawyer and civic leader Nick Fish. Fish nearly won a race for Commissioner in 2004. He won the primary, but then lost in a runoff to a guy named Sam Adams (now running for Mayor).

I met Fish back in February and when I asked him about that race he said, “There should have been a coin flip on that one.”

City Council candidate Nick Fish-1.jpg

Nick Fish outside my office
in SE Portland.

Fish is a qualified candidate who has worked on a myriad of important social causes since moving to Portland in 1996. Most notably, he has been active in the arts community as Vice Chair of the Oregon Cultural Trust and was part of a coalition that created the New Columbia housing project.

He moved to Portland with his family (two kids) so his wife (Patty) could take a teaching position at Portland State University. Fish has become involved with PSU himself and is now on the Dean’s Advisory Council.

During our conversation a few months ago, Fish said his wife was “an avid cyclist”. As if to gain some legitimacy in my eyes, he told me she has done the Seattle-to-Portland ride, and often rides around their neighborhood with their four-year old son in tow.

Fish said he’s personally, “not much of a biker” but that he’s seen a transformation in his wife since she began riding. When I asked why he himself doesn’t usually take two wheels he said he uses the MAX (train) and walks a lot.

As a member of City Council, Fish told me he’d fight for more bike boulevards, that “creating safer routes is critical” and said that “I applaud Sam’s [Commissioner Sam Adams] response to the fatalities back in October.”

During our meeting, I brought up the police and enforcement issues (our meeting happened prior to several new, and positive steps taken by the Portland Police Bureau regarding bike-related enforcement policies). Part of the problem, I said, was a budgetary crisis that is making it difficult for the PPB to hire enough officers. Fish said his relationship with Robert King, the head of Portland’s police officer’s union, is something that he could offer in helping both sides come to the table and work out issues.

Even though he doesn’t ride, Fish said he can still understand bike issues. He likened the situation to his involvement with the arts community. “I’m not an artist — but I don’t have to pick up a paintbrush to be a strong advocate for the arts,” he said, “and therefore I don’t have to be an avid cyclist to understand the issues involved.”

===

Two candidates. Both would be sensitive to bike-related issues and both have the leadership and professional skills to be solid commissioners.

What are your thoughts? Who did you vote for? Do you agree with Fish that he can be a strong advocate for biking, without actually ever riding around the city himself?

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Qwendolyn
14 years ago

I don\’t know anything about Middaugh except that he bike commutes, and so I voted for him.

My brother doesn\’t know anything about Fish except that he had his wife as a professor, and so my brother voted for Fish.

Yay Democracy!

bdan
bdan
14 years ago

C\’mon I\’m tired of a bunch of guys running this city we need some ladies on the city council!

peejay
peejay
14 years ago

Well, if the Tribune endorsed Nick Fish, that\’s enough for me. Go, Jim!

Also, I\’ve met Jim Middaugh and think he rocks.

david4130
david4130
14 years ago

#2

That comment to me seems kind of sexist. What dose it matter if it\’s males or females or a mixture of both, as long as they run the city adequately? Were all people, all equal, right?

yum, bikes
yum, bikes
14 years ago

We have an opportunity to elect a real, dedicated daily bike commuter. In addition he has solid environmental credentials. I already voted for Jim!

Metal Cowboy
14 years ago

Two candidates with admirable qualities. I heard both of them discuss a myriad of issues on the city club debate broadcast on opb. For me, Jim is the stronger advocate with the right mix of urban planning, experience in local gov and biking.
Good luck to both candidates.

Jordan
Jordan
14 years ago

I met Jim and was impressed with him on his bike commuting and his environmental experience. He also seemed to be a guy that listened. I have not had the chance to meet Nick.

My question for both would be what is their position on mountain biking? As an avid mountain biker and a board member of PUMP I would like to know what their stance is on creating natural surface trails in Portland and in particular Forest Park.

Russell
Russell
14 years ago

Jordan, I\’m not sure about Mr. Fish, but Mr. Middaugh\’s website specifically lists creating more trails, especially for mountain bikers, a goal.

Russell
Russell
14 years ago

Looks like my hyperlink didn\’t go through, you can find Mr. Middaugh\’s statement about on and off-road cycle facilities here:

http://jimforportland.com/page8.aspx#Eight

Russell
Russell
14 years ago

Oh, on one last note, I really do appreciate that even in his short statement he addresses the need to avoid conflicts between MTB and runners/hikers (which I\’ve had in Forest Park with MTBers riding on trails they\’re not supposed to be).

Looking at Mr. Fish\’s website, he addresses the need for more trails, but a Google search reveals that he does not mention bike, bicycle, or cycle anywhere on his website. He does have some very good ideas though.

Jim Middaugh
14 years ago

On mountain bikes…

Mountain bikers shouldn\’t have to drive to Scappoose to get a great ride. We need to work with PUMP and the Parks Bureau to create great mountain biking opportunities IN Portland.

We also need to recognize that many folks on the west slope might ride to work if they could use a good trail system to get over the hill to downtown. Platinum should include mountain bikes…

I\’ll close with a quote from Jonathan\’s post above (about me, not Nick):

\”He says he’ll fight to improve bike safety, be vigilant to make sure land-use and growth decisions are integrated with bike plans, and that he’ll even \’support the creation of more trails for mountain bikers.\’”

Thanks for asking.

Jim

Daniel (teknotus) Johnson
Daniel (teknotus) Johnson
14 years ago

I highly endorse Jim. I\’ve talked with him for hours, and bikes isn\’t the only issue he gets. I\’m really really impressed by his stand on low income housing, and working towards eliminating homelessness.

jamie
jamie
14 years ago

more ladies, more churn.

kasandra
kasandra
14 years ago

I also highly endorse Jim. I\’ve been campaigning for him because he\’s a candidate who doesn\’t just talk about my issues, he lives them.

a.O
a.O
14 years ago

You will not find a better person, candidate, or Portlander to serve on our City Council than Jim Middaugh.

peejay
peejay
14 years ago

The number one issue in the world in the 21st century is global warming and its implications for the human race. This is a global crisis, but it will be treated with very local solutions. The most promising of these is to look at urban planning and density issues as a way to cut our transportation burden, and this is one topic that I know Jim gets. My vote is for Jim Middaugh.

rixtir
rixtir
14 years ago

What peejay said. We\’re at a juncture now where we need more than candidates who are bike-friendly (or at least not bike-hostile)– we need candidates who understand the immensity of the crisis we\’re up against, and who are committed to working to solve it. While we\’re fortunate to have \”bike-friendly\” candidates in both the mayoral race and the city commissioners races, we\’re even more fortunate to have a candidate in each race (and with Jeff Bissonnette and Chris Smith, we\’ve got TWO candidates in one race!) who get global warming, and who will do the local-level work that needs to be done to address global warming.

My vote is for the candidates for whom \”gets it\” is more than campaign code for 20th Century approaches to 21st Century problems.

Jordan
Jordan
14 years ago

Thanks! Jim you\’ll get my vote.

Anonymous
Anonymous
14 years ago

Damn it! I voted for Fish before reading this stuff. Oh well.

Jerrod
Jerrod
14 years ago

Damn it! I voted for Fish before reading this stuff. Oh well.

Zaphod
14 years ago

Talking about cycling versus riding & commuting by bike makes for a simple decision on this issue. Hours in the saddle equates to real understanding of what works and what doesn\’t. I\’m liking how these elections are shaping up.

Blue commute
Blue commute
14 years ago

I support Jim Middaugh, and really feel he is next person we need at city hall. I wanted to remind people that there are only 6 days until election day, and most people are undecided in this race. It\’s so important to let others know who you support, and get the word out about Jim.

rixtir
rixtir
14 years ago

Looks like we could lose this one; Fish has 35% of the vote, Middaugh has 10%, and 46% of the voters are undecided.

Blue commute
Blue commute
14 years ago

This is a close race, and MANY voters are undecided, this race could end up either way. Make sure you get the word out, talk to your neighbors and friends, or better yet visit http://www.jimforportland.com to contact the campaign office to help out! There is still time to make a difference!

rixtir
rixtir
14 years ago

If Nick Fish gets 50% of the vote on May 20, he\’s in, no fall runoff. We HAVE to get the vote out for Jim Middaugh if we want a friend on the City Council.

And while we\’re at it, the race for Comissioner position #1 may be tilted towards Fritz, because we\’ve got two strong candidates– Smith and Bissonnette– to choose from, thus diluting our vote.

jeff
jeff
14 years ago

I voted for Nick Fish. I realize this is BikePortland, but my vote is based on more than one issue. Nick is better qualified overall IMO.

rixtir
rixtir
14 years ago

My vote is based on the one issue that overrides virtually every other issue– we\’re up against a global environmental catastrophe, and Sam Adams, Jeff Bisonnette, Chris Smith, Jim Middaugh, and Randy Leonard get it, and will work hard to make the changes at the local level that are necessary if we\’re going to successfully address global climate change.

The other candidates don\’t get it, and therefore, we can\’t really expect them to do anything more than continue with business as usual.