You’ve seen it. We’ve seen it. Portland mayoral candidate Ted Wheeler has seen it.
“If my presence in the race lights a fire under the mayor, how can that be anything but a good thing?”
— Ted Wheeler, candidate for mayor
In a letter to Hales today, Wheeler all but accused the incumbent of copying his stance on issues and then challenged him to 12 “in-depth” debates.
“When I announced my candidacy for mayor,” Wheeler states in the letter, “I noted that our city had a homelessness crisis; last week, you declared it an emergency. Two weeks ago, I voiced my support for a gas tax; last Friday, you decided to agree.”
Wheeler has a point. And he could add bicycling to that list. Just a day after he announced his candidacy, Wheeler had an invite-only, sit-down meeting with a handful of bike advocates and experts to learn more about cycling in Portland. Meanwhile, Hales has upped his cycling and active transportation game significantly in the past month or so. Since he and Wheeler had that secret meeting on August 20th, Hales has shepherded major plans through city council and yesterday completed his fourth consecutive Monday morning commute by bike.
I met up with Wheeler before Sunday Parkways and asked him what he thought about all of Hales’ headline-grabbing actions since he jumped into the race. “I think democracy is a good thing and a healthy thing,” he said carefully, “and I think competition is good and healthy thing. If my presence in the race lights a fire under the mayor, how can that be anything but a good thing?”
With this letter (that the local media has quickly gobbled up), Wheeler wants to re-focus the city’s attention back on him. In his letter he says, “This campaign shouldn’t become a game of political tit for tat.” Instead, he wants to give voters, “an honest comparison” of he Hales’ ideas about 12 major issues with a separate debate for each. Here’s the list of issues:
- Jobs and the Economy
- Affordable Housing
- Roads and Infrastructure
- Government Ethics and Transparency
- Growth and Development
- Police and Criminal Justice Policy
- Budget and Taxes
- Transportation and Transit
- Eastside Services
When I see that list the first thing I think is how they are almost all connected. Seems like it’d be impossible to talk in-depth about one of them without four or five others coming up. For instance, how can you have a debate about “roads and infrastructure” and then a separate debate about “transportation and transit”? And isn’t transit just a form of transportation?
So far we haven’t heard a response from the Hales camp.
Stay tuned. This race is going to be very fun to watch.