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New candidate for mayor, Sarah Iannarone, makes her first pitch to voters

Posted by on January 21st, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone-1.jpg

Sarah Iannarone at her announcement earlier today at City Hall.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Like most of us, Sarah Iannarone thinks Portland is underachieving. But unlike most people, Iannarone has decided to something about it. Something big. She’s running for mayor.

“I think we need to un-congest downtown and do it quickly.”
— Sarah Iannarone, candidate for Portland mayor

Today in City Hall Iannarone, the first woman candidate to enter the race, made her candidacy official and then gave her first campaign speech. The speech hit many of the notes we always hear at candidacy announcements. As you might expect, Iannarone loves Portland (would anyone who doesn’t love Portland ever run for office?) and wants to seek “home-grown solutions” and “build partnerships” with “innovation” and “collaboration” to make it even better. But in her four-minute speech and in a brief conversation I had with her afterward, she shared the outlines of an approach that could be decidedly different than business as usual — especially on the transportation reform front.

Iannarone spoke about several problems she plans to tackle as mayor: Homelessness, affordable housing, transportation, a divided populace, and our form of government. The fact that transportation made it onto that short list could have something to do with the fact that Iannarone is nearing completion of her doctorate degree from the Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University.

“Thousands of people are moving to Portland every month,” she said. “Right in the middle of an affordable housing crisis… Traffic is snarled. And that plan to fix all the potholes in town? That got run off the road east of 82nd Avenue.”

Iannarone said she wants to solve these problems “The Portland way,” but then hinted that that “way” might need an update. “I believe Portland is a city on the brink of global greatness,” she said, “but we’re hog-tied in many ways by outdated local practices and business as usual. Our commissioner form of government is the only one in the United States for a reason. Within it, it’s tough to be effective and efficient.”

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Iannarone didn’t say she wanted to abolish our “weak-mayor” system. Instead she promised to make Portland a “smarter city from day one.” “We are going to have the same culture inside city hall that drives our start-ups: open-mindedness, optimism, and experimentation. Because being a smart city means more than using technology. It means re-learning how to work together to get things done.”

Mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone-4.jpg

After her prepared remarks I asked Iannarone a few questions.

I’m curious about her connection to current Mayor Charlie Hales — both in terms of her approach to the job and how it might impact her chances. Iannarone works with Nancy Hales at First Stop Portland and it had been reported that Hales encouraged her to run. (Also of note: Iannarone’s campaign manager Sara Bott was Hales’ re-election campaign manager before he dropped out.) Iannarone said she told Hales she wanted to run and he was supportive and didn’t discourage her. One thing she wanted to make clear: “He did not recruit me.”

I then asked: Will you look to continue Mayor Charlie Hales’ legacy or differentiate yourself from him? Here’s her response:

“I’m about good ideas. If there is a policy or initiative that Hales started that I think is good for the city, why would I stop them just to differentiate myself from him? That’s not reasonable or good stewardship of our time and resources. If there are things that need to happen that haven’t, then of course I’ll do them. If there are things that he did that are wrong, then I will try and reverse them.. based on the mandate from city hall and what we can pull together as a city.”

Many transportation reformers don’t think Hales has gone far enough. I asked Iannarone about his record on that and about her views on the issue in general:

“One of the biggest problems we face right now is a lack of belief that government can do what people want it to do. I don’t think people didn’t support the street fee because they don’t want good streets. It was a matter of how the issue was framed and how consensus was built around the city. My background is in understanding how transportation systems contribute to both vitality and economic health of the region. I’m going to focus, on Vision Zero of course, but also… how do make the changes we need to make fast; but also work incrementally so we continue to grow our non-carbon future? I think that alternative transportation, electric vehicles, stopping all these idling internal combustion engines downtown at all times throughout the day… I think we need to un-congest downtown and do it quickly.”

As to how we might “un-congest,” Iannarone said “fine tools” exist, especially in regards to parking policy, and that she’d be happy to share more details later.

For a woman whose job it is to showcase Portland’s urban planning successes, Iannarone (thankfully) didn’t spend time patting Portland on the back. She seems to have a good balance of appreciation and respect for what Portland is and an urgency to see it become what it needs to become. “This is no time for complacency or resting on laurels,” she said. “The problems we face are not for the faint of heart. We must step up, think big, and get excited, again, about making Portland the extraordinary place we know it can be.”

More coverage: Sarah Iannarone enters Portland mayoral race ‘to win it’ (The Oregonian); Sarah Iannarone, Portland’s Latest Mayoral Contender, Says She’ll Have the Resources To Win (The Portland Mercury)

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

I’m going to focus, on Vision Zero of course, but also… how do make the changes we need to make fast; but also work incrementally

That bothers me, because “it would take too long” and “we need to work incrementally” are things we’ve been hearing.

Erin M
Guest
Erin M

Give her transportation planning background, I’m assuming (hoping?) that by incrementally she means phasing in projects in stages – for example starting by quickly and inexpensively painting in roadway changes, then building them out later, once people have seen that the changes work. This has become a major and successful trend in transportation planning in recent years, that we haven’t made use of in Portland.

Justin
Guest
Justin

I interpreted the comment as – how can we both make fast changes and ALSO make long term, incremental changes? Balancing both instead of mutual exclusion.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

“I don’t think people didn’t support the street fee because they don’t want good streets. It was a matter of how the issue was framed and how consensus was built around the city.”

I think it was because the City’s calculations for application of the fee were wackadoo. And that they exempted some of the biggest users/destroyers of roads in our region.

Thank you, BikePortland, for covering the candidates and issues! Much appreciated.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Or that they seemed to change it weekly.
Or that it was regressive.
Or ______________________.

There were plenty of reasons to pick from.

dan
Guest
dan

Looks like we have two viable candidates now! Jules, hope you enjoy your return to life in the private sector.

Hopeful
Guest

It feels like the Oregonian really likes conservative white men who talk like they are really progressive. Iannarone doesn’t fit that bill, and will not likely make it into that crappy newspaper much. Being excluded in the largest newspaper in the state will make it more difficult to win a mayoral election.

dan
Guest
dan

Maybe? I wonder how many people in Portland still rely on the O for that kind of coverage. I have never subscribed to the paper since I moved out of my parents’ house after high school, and would be much more likely to rely on W Week and even the Mercury for coverage of the mayoral race.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

You’d be more likely to rely on a weekly paper, than a daily paper for the news? The WW with its one story a week offering…plus all the amusing entertainment bits, of course. The Merc never seemed much different to me when I tried reading it. If either of these papers ever want to try being a serious news reporting source, I’d welcome it. Maybe I’ll pick up a copy, see how their coverage of the Malheur County chaos has been. I’ve lately been regularly browsing the O for news of what’s going on down there.

Once a daily paper, having dropped Tuesday and Thursday publication, the Oregonian gradually becomes more like the WW and the Merc. The O gets thinner and thinner. Recent news was that it dropped syndicated columnists from the NYtimes news service. Just gets them from, I believe, the Washington Post. The O still does though, have some good writers. I don’t think they’re going to be able to save the paper, but at least it still has people on the staff that are serious about reporting the news.

If there were a paper to take the place of the O, the way things have been going with that paper, a new, serious contender could probably take the O’s business and its news assignments away. There’s no such news reporting contender in Portland, or Oregon, at present.

Good luck to Sarah Iannarone towards putting something more substantial together for a platform than offered in quotes to this bikeportland story. What she said, sounded upbeat and enthusiastic. That kind of energy is definitely important to have. Needs more details that people can chew on, test for credibility. For a prospective mayor, her urban planning knowledge is a plus.

Visually, Iannarone looks interesting…let’s see pics or video of how well she rides in traffic. If she’s serious about bikes being an aid towards reducing some of the citys traffic congestion, she and the transportation director side by side on bikes, could be quite an inspiring duo.

daisy
Guest
daisy

Let’s see how she looks on a bike in traffic?! What nonsense?!

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

daisy…not what you’re asking…but what I wrote, which was “…how well she rides in traffic. …”. As in, when riding in traffic does she use good riding in traffic skills such as displaying very visible hand signals?

In bikeportland stories some months back, pictures showed Mayor Hales displaying big, bold hand signals for turning when doing his ride to work. It would be excellent for the city, and people that bike, if as an example, this latest mayoral candidate similarly signals turns while biking.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Thanks for the laugh!

daisy
Guest
daisy

“Nonsense” is worthy of deletion? Yikes.

dan
Guest
dan

Not I “would” be, I am. Of course the WW doesn’t have the same breadth of coverage as the O, but they do an election round up, and compared to the Oregonian, their political stance is MUCH more aligned with mine.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I believe the O does election roundups. If you like WW’s and the Merc’s roundups better than the O, it’s wonderful that you’re able to go to those news sources for the info you need on candidates. For a broad, open minded perspective, it’s not a bad idea, I think, for people to browse a range of news sources, that differ from each other in political stance taken.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

The Oregonian still publishes their little news pamphlet on Tuesday and Thursday, they just don’t deliver it. Strange business model. I guess they figured out that the ads were the thing.

Adam
Subscriber

She made it into the Oregonian, but in an article about baking cake. Another deplorable move from an outlet that pretends to be a real news source.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Is that a journalistic piece from the top local newspaper, or a teenager’s blog post? The format looks like a newspaper’s website, but the content seems more like a blog post…

Adam
Subscriber

My guess is it’s the Oregonian’s feeble attempt to appeal to the Buzzfeed crowd, whatever that may be.

Kittens
Guest
Kittens

The O is forever nipping at the heals of whatever news outlet is suddenly popular often with hilariously bad results.

I am not one likely to cheer the destruction of anything so vital and storied as a local daily, but the at this point the O just needs to hurry up and go away to make room for something better.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

How have you liked the Trib’s bike stories lately?

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Adam- have you seen the WWeek stuff about when O started buzzfeedifying? Ironically, buzzfeed produces some legit journalism now (along with the normal non-nutritious content we know them for).

http://www.wweek.com/portland/blog-31405-with_quotas_and_incentive_pay_the_oregonian_is_again_reshaping_its_experience_for_readers.html

Adam
Subscriber

I had not read that. Thanks for sharing! What the Oregonian is doing is exactly why I stopped reading all Gawker-owned blogs.

meh
Guest
meh

Here you go Adam an piece on her inability to pay her taxes over multiple years, including a tax lien. Is this the type of in depth reporting you were looking for?

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2016/01/4500_tax_lien_filed_against_ma.html

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Not male, not white = Oregonian smear campaign already starting.

meh
Guest
meh

How is telling the truth a smear??

Everyone is all over Hales living outside the state yet voting in state elections.

The truth is never a bad thing, unless it’s the truth about someone you back.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Interesting, I didn’t realize she owned the Arleta Library Cafe (which is a jewel breakfast spot in Mt Scott/Arleta).
Weird, I don’t think I’ve ever seen here there, and assumed it was owned by the guy in his 30s who is always there (I thought I remember him saying he was the owner). Maybe they own it together.

pengo
Guest
pengo

You may be talking about Nick, her husband. They co-own the cafe.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

What to you seemed deplorable about the Oregonian reporting on that story? Because you mentioned it, I went to the trouble of reading it. It was actually a kind of funny story. Sophomoric stuff that Nancy Hales and Sarah Iannarone worked on together: Iannarone, helped her buddy out, bakes a cake that Hales got credit for baking, and maybe won a little prize. Funny stuff…not particularly the key to any great conspiracy. Not the greatest news story, but not such a big deal that the O did the story either.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

“open-mindedness”…hmmm and right out of the gate alienating white men with a disparaging comment.

maccoinnich
Subscriber

White man here. Not feeling alienated.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I’m white. Mega white. Like, originally from the midwest white. Not feeling alienated nor disparaged.

ethan
Guest
ethan

I feel refreshed. I agree with much of what she says and am looking forward to learning more.

Adam
Subscriber

Another white man here, and I agree with her that we need less white men running the government.

Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

How do you derive anything about white men from anything in this article? Other than the fact that she’s not one herself, I mean?

maccoinnich
Guest

I assume he was referring to this tweet . It’s a sentiment so uncontroversial that I’ve heard many middle aged white men making it themselves.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

A mayor should be open and accessible to all citizens. It’s a shame her snarky comment really set the tone. I think we need to keep the mayor candidates coming. Next.

davemess
Guest
davemess

“Our commissioner form of government is the only one in the United States for a reason. Within it, it’s tough to be effective and efficient.”

I think I might vote for anyone who ran just on trying to bring a new regional-based form of city government.

EricIvy
Subscriber

White man here. Not feeling alienated. It’s pretty hard to alienate white men with a disparaging comment, but I’ll try. My opinion is that old white men have, and are still ruining this country.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

The Commission form of government doesn’t exist anyplace else anymore for one very specific reason: it’s racist. It was used throughout the south after the Civil War to keep blacks disenfranchised, and was eventually abolished through the court system.

Why it survives in Portland is beyond me, but it should actually be quite embarrassing to the city. Of course, if you’re one of the beneficiaries of the system (looking at you, PBA) you’re going to fight to keep it.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

That’s really interesting, Buzz. Do you have sources you can point me to? I believe you, but I want to read more.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

simple search results:
https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/moc01
wiki has essentially the same text, abridged.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Thanks. That was a great primer.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

OK, so the only perceived racist aspect is the voting rules, not the structure. I think the much more telling statistic about forms of government or “middle-aged white men” is that in the case of the commission structure, it was conceived by “wealthy businessmen“, whom some thought were making a play to take all power out of the hands of workers, and in the case of “middle-aged, white men”, we’ve left out rich, middle-aged, white men.

I think our color issues in government are much more related to the color green than black, brown, or white.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Encouraging. For immediate action, can we enforce the speed limit? Paint the bike lane gaps closed?

My one concern is the planning thing. We’ve planned ourselves nearly bankrupt and all we have to show for it are overpriced plans. Let’s get some paint, signs, barrels, etc on the ground ASAP and do it according to our planned priorities.

dwk
Guest
dwk

Her resume is chock full of every consulting/advisory/study group you could shake a stick at, but no real political/work oriented achievement results I could see at all…

This may be the most critical mayorial race since I moved here 25 years or so ago. The city has made terrible planning decisions in the last 10 years or so (Division/Tilikum South waterfront/ North Williams, anyone?) She does not have her fingerprints on any of that I hope.

The last 4 years were a complete waste, A booming city that can’t find the money for anything of importance it seems. A city that has let developers run roughshod, that allows all kinds of shiny new condos/retail, so should have a tax base, but has no money for infrastructure, low income housing, shelters etc. WTF!!!!

I am open to her, we don’t have much else, but she has her work cut out for her…

Brian
Guest
Brian

Agreed. This is a pivotal time for our city with some pretty huge issues that need to be addressed. Political/leadership experience is important, but I’m keeping an open (white, male) mind.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

d,
I think you’re confusing planning decisions with implementation.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Better than Eileen Brady?

CD
Guest
CD

I think she’s saying a lot of things I like. I would like to hear more about whether she wants to scrap our commission government and get district representation, because I don’t think anything of substance will really get done until that happens.

That said, I don’t know if this is a good time for a neophyte mayor. I really wish what appear to be more heeled first-time candidates would take on Novick or Fritz.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

I am also concerned regarding experience building consensus. It’s easy to throw stones from outside City Hall.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Being the preferred candidate of Charlie Hales is almost as tough to explain to the voters as say, not laying your income taxes for several years.

mh
Guest
mh

Who is willing to organize a land use and transportation-focused candidates’ debate?

maccoinnich
Guest

There was a debate last week focussed on planning, design and architecture, with Jules Bailey and Ted Wheeler on stage. Neither said anything of note.

daisy
Guest
daisy

I’ve already seen more comments from BikePortland contributors about her appearance than I’ve seen about Hales, Novick, Fish, and Wheeler combined. Before you comment on a candidate’s appearance, please stop. That’s it. Just stop.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Did you get a look at those fenders? Seriously, electric bikes turn people into daily riders, which is a very mayoral way to make an appearance.

daisy
Guest
daisy

I fully support commenting on candidates’ bicycles!

Adam
Subscriber

Everyday sexism.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

I wonder what Hales, Novick, Fish and Wheeler would appear like, combined… 🙂

David
Guest
David

If the story in the Oregonian is true about her not paying taxes due over several years and she claimed she didn’t know anything about it then she doesn’t deserve to be mayor. She has failed the first two tests. 1. Be able to manage your own finances. 2. Based on her statements, it looks like she is not being truthful. I’ve had enough of lying politicians.

There are two big warning flags.

dan
Guest
dan

Yeah, and according to WW, her annual salary from First Stop is $51k: http://www.wweek.com/2016/01/19/portland-state-university-planner-sarah-iannarone-may-run-for-portland-mayor/. Pretty messed up that she couldn’t pay her tax bill each year on that salary.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Really?
Delegating mundane tasks, like taxes to your accountant, is one method to free up time for the creative tasks that keep your business successful. Business taxes are at least one magnitude more complex than a simple 1040-EZ. It would be easy to miss something. I do the 1040 long form with a tax program, and have had to do amendments.
Seems like you want a full disclosure statement from anyone before they contemplate pitching in to help. Do favorite childhood cartoons influence your vote? Curious where you draw the line? She did not deny the information, and gave a reasonable explanation for how it occurred.
Nothing even to forgive, there.

dwk
Guest
dwk

BS…..
Paying my taxes is not a “mundane” task.
Sorry this is a disqualification..

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

“Iannarone said she didn’t specifically remember when she first learned about the issue, or whether she received notices seeking past-due payments for the 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013 tax years. She said she didn’t realize the debts were accruing at the time.”

Is not noticing multiple notices from Department Of Revenue, for four+ years, also because looking at your mail is a mundane task? She may be this election’s Jefferson Smith.

David
Guest
David

Did her power get cut off too for missing five years worth of bills? Not buying this. This is the first sign of something being amiss. Is this how she would run the city? I’m not responsible for anything, and thus throw her staff under the bus?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

In a Wednesday Oregonian story I read yesterday, in response to a question about the taxes she owed, she was quoted as saying something like ‘it was an accounting error’. Not the best answer. Better may have been to have said something like ‘We’re looking into the issue, and if there are taxes owed, they will be paid.

Oregon Live got and used an unsmiling, unflattering picture of Iannarone in front of city hall, to accompany the O’s story on her tax issue. Very much unlike the photos of her used for this bikeportland story. Unless she’s often a very unhappy unsmiling person, it was kind of a catch for the O to get the picture of her that they used. I mention this to pose the question of how fair it is for news sources to use such strategies to reflect in a certain way, on the people they’re reporting about.

Was the expression she showed in that picture, one she had on her face when responding to a question about her taxes? I don’t think the O’s story made such a claim. Still…using that photo the way the paper did, can have the ability to influence indiscriminate readers’ opinions. Next time at the grocery store checkout line, look at how some of the celebrity newspapers cover their subjects with pictures and headlines.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

Yeah but wasn’t there some controversy with Hales and the city elected him anyway? It’s not encouraging to hear something like tax evasion this early. If she was anything other than a progressive candidate she’d be immediately dismissed so she’s probably still got a shot here.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

If the O dislikes her this much, that says to me that she’s a good candidate.

David
Guest
David

Hales got elected because the favorite, Jefferson Davis, turned out to be someone who had some personal issues such as hitting ex-girlfriends. That opened the way for Hales to get elected.

As a vote, we really don’t have much to judge people on when electing them beyond their voting record and what they have done in the past. Sarah has not voting record and we know little about her business dealings. All we know now is that she appears to be throwing her accountant under the bus for missing 4 years worth of tax statements. She either needs to keep better tabs on the people working for her or she is not telling the truth. Based on the limited info we have about her, these are red flags that I cannot ignore.

RH
Guest
RH

This election is extremely important to help shape Portland future and find solutions to the numerous recent issues. I look forward to hearing what all the candidates. It’s nice that this candidate bikes, but let’s not check the ballot box quite yet. I always get leary about potential government officials that haven’t paid their taxes…and that’s a simple thing to do.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

only if you have simple income.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

Agreed. The tax lein is $4500. Assuming this is for state taxes spread over the four years, then you are looking at an omission of maybe $10,000 in income per year. If she files jointly with her spouse (maybe likely due to the jointly owned business), then it could be they of overlooked an investment of some sort. This is significant and needs to be corrected, but it may not be smoking gun people think it is. It depends on the details.

Stephen “Just an old, alienated white guy muttering out loud” K.

dan
Guest
dan

Bud Clark owned a food service establishment and turned out to be one of our best mayors. Think there’s any connection between the two?

Cherokee Schill
Guest

My first thought, when I moved to Portland, “That is a lot of car culture.”
I would like to see her institute Vision Zero and embrace a Strong Town’s culture of local diversity through careful urban planning. I was speaking to a community leader in Washington Co. yesterday and he said that traffic fatalities are up 20%.
I really get upset when I see the bicycle culture here kowtowing to auto culture. It makes me think of the frog in the pot effect. We think we are making innovative changes, and in some ways we are, but over all it is reactionary and not visionary.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Where did you move from that you think Portland has a lot of car culture?

Kath Youell
Guest

Click on her name and Kentucky is everywhere.

davemess
Guest
davemess

No car culture there!

Kath Youell
Guest

I think that many that move here expecting Bike Heaven are disappointed in the scraps we are begging for and, therefore, surprised at the amount of car culture that rules our lives. I certainly don’t think she was saying we have more than Kentucky.

My dad has been living in Lexington, KY for awhile and when her story first hit the news I posted on FB about it and he was crazy with CarHeadedness. (Google her for deets.)

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

WW quoted Len Bergstein, famous local political operator, as saying that this election cycle is turning out to be, “…atypical…weird…”

As the redoubtable Hunter S. Thompson opined, “When the going turns weird, the weird turn pro.”

We all should turn out for next Tuesday, the 26th, at the Gerding Theater, 4 PM, for a mammoth campaign event. Nothing like seeing all the mammoths on stage at once.

chris
Guest
chris

don’t believe the hype. if she actually cared about a “non-carbon future” she would not run a cafe selling all meat based meals. real environmentalists don’t eat meat. at least i can walk to the Mercado to get some veggie/vegan friendly lunch and dinner. just another politician telling people what they want to hear…