Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Mayoral candidate takes voters on a ride

Posted by on July 3rd, 2012 at 11:43 am

Mayoral Candidate Jefferson Smith ride-7

Mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith (R) chats
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.”

Mayoral Candidate Jefferson Smith ride-17

Mayoral Candidate Jefferson Smith ride-11

Mayoral Candidate Jefferson Smith ride-16

Mayoral Candidate Jefferson Smith ride-9

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 the< a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPB1jtmHVkk">Common 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.

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  • Jason S. July 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Nice! I am sorry I missed. I am happy Jeff makes himself so accessible to voters. And I love his fight against the CRC.

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  • Brian July 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    While it is good that he is trying to get cyclists’ votes, we should remember that he wants to have cyclists licensed. While that might be good or bad, he rubs a lot of people the wrong way with some of his ideas. He won’t be getting my vote this fall

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    • Chris I July 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm


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    • Ted July 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      Yes, please cite a source on this. I googled around to figure out what you are talking about and I found this from a KATU interview:

      “Q. Will you also use money intended for other things to improve bike lanes? How about making bicyclists start paying their share in licenses, and taxes too? Taxpayers are hurting.

      A: Tax dollars will be used for their intended purpose when I am Mayor. We can explore a voluntary licensing fee for bicyclists to help pay for specific improvements for our roads that would help them also. To be clear, many people who ride bicycles also pay vehicle fees, because they are also car owners. Meanwhile, when people choose to walk or ride a bike or take a bus, they damage roads less and cause less traffic. Like most Portlanders, I want safer roads and easier commutes, and we need to get past the false bikes vs. cars debate and recognize that we need to make the transportation system work for everyone. ”

      To me, that seems like a pretty good redirecting response to a terrible question.

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      • Biking Viking July 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm

        That was a terrible question. I would have been tempted to berate the interviewer for asking such a loaded question.

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        • Chris I July 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm

          And that’s why we don’t go into politics…

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  • mh July 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Charlie had my vote, but I’m feeling worse and worse about him. If he can’t control the letters that come out under his name during a campaign, I have to worry that the much larger organization of the City of Portland would be even more out of control. Being able to function in City Hall immediately was the reason he got my vote, rather than anything specifically about bicycling.

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  • Peter W July 3, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I think when people get a chance to hear Jefferson talk, they realize not only how bright and thoughtful he is, but also how humble and very interested he is in listening to others.

    It was great to see so many folks join us on the ride. I hope everyone enjoyed this rolling conversation as much as I did.

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    • Hart Noecker July 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      Jefferson’s greatest strength is communicating Portland’s values to people who’ve never spent time studying what ‘active transit’ is or why we need bioswales.

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      • Mickey July 4, 2012 at 10:40 am

        What are “Portland’s Values”?

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  • Jeff J July 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Jefferson Smith has a lot of great things to say on active transportation issues. You can read his responses to the bike walk vote questionnaire at biiewalkvote.org/questionnaires/smith.pdf

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    • Jeff J July 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      Sorry, that link should be bikewalkvote.org/questionnaires/smith.pdf

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  • GlowBoy July 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I was torn between Jefferson and Charlie, and ultimately voted for Jefferson in the primary because he seemed like the underdog. Now I’m strongly leaning towards Jefferson in November, because he seems like the better candidate.

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  • Andrew K July 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    This is the kind of politics I like. I want to see candidates actively communicating with those they hope to represent not because said people have $50,000+ to donate to their campaign but simply because they want to talk about ideas and perhaps get my vote.

    Now I know it’s not entirely fair to compare fundraising on the national level to a local campaign but still…

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  • Todd Boulanger July 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Thats “great” he wants to challenge the CRC project…’good luck and god speed’…but as I have said in the past…the anti-CRC folks just cannot be simply be “anti”, they have to really put up a viable option to the CRC project. I have not seen one yet that will play well on both sides of the state line and in both state capitals.

    Comments like his “”that highway proposed to Clark County” are basically throw away comments. It’s really a highway to and from Portland …to its largest bedroom community.

    With his comment – I would then hope that he works successfully as mayor for an ordinance (or funded program) that “fines” or “incentivizes*” Portland based employers to shift their employees to live where they work…be it Vancouver, Hillsboro, etc. [We all pay the “tax” that these super solo commuters cost us in congested freight routes and for bigger infrastructure to feed this mobility/ driving to quality for a mortgage.]

    *May be we need a “bank” to swap jobs regionally or “buy” mortgages of those who wish to commute locally vs. regionally?

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    • DG July 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      here is a well thought out alternative

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    • Chris I July 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      Aside from the bridge itself, most of the CRC work is on the Washington side. Roughly half of the money will be spent on non-bridge construction.

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    • Ted July 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      Great points… Jefferson has been a big and consistent supporter of the Common Sense Alternative. He talked about that on this ride. Give it a google search if you aren’t familiar.

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    • rwallis July 3, 2012 at 7:28 pm

      So, Todd please tell me why you need an option to stupidity? CRC says lets make the built landscape less livable – degrade air quality, make existing roadways more dangerous to those who walk or bike, etc. Its like saying – give me an alternative to kicking you in the teeth. My response would be – don’t kick. My response to CRC is – stop adding highway capacity.

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  • Lisa Marie July 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I’m a bike commuter; glad I took part in this ride.

    Jefferson truly seems to understand the value and importance of promoting active transportation and he’s able to communicate it well. Understanding the issue and being able to communicate it to voters and other elected officials is integral to building political will.

    He smart, he’s open to better ideas than his own, he has experience making general ideas a reality, and he’s honest. If you haven’t spoken to him or heard him talk, you should.

    Definitely has my vote.

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  • Babygorilla July 4, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Glad Mr. Smith made it through an athletic endeavor without punching someone.


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    • steve scarich July 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      Yeah..banned for a year from his soccer league and thrown out of pickup basketball game, both in a short period of time. This guy obviously has impulse-control issues. At least this mayoral candidate has been ‘outed’ before the election. I hope Portland voters have learned something from the current disaster of a mayor.

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  • Roger July 4, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    While on the ride, my question for Jefferson was (paraphrased): PBOT’s budget committee was given specific direction to not consider new local revenue sources, rather only prioritize cuts to existing programs and services. If elected what new local transportation revenue sources would you support or create?

    To benefit all readers on BP, I welcome Jefferson to repeat his answer. Charlie, you are invited to answer the same question as well…

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