Timur Ender, a 33-year-old former volunteer with Better Block PDX, transportation policy advisor to former Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick and PBOT project manager, is the latest person to announce a run for city council.
Ender wants to represent District 1, the east Portland district that stretches from the Portland Airport and along I-205 to the city’s eastern and souther borders. BikePortlanders will be familiar with Ender since he’s been active in transportation advocacy, projects, and politics since 2013 when he graduated with a law degree from Lewis & Clark Law School.
Ender grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina and did his undergrad at NC State. In 2009 he rode his bike across America with the nonprofit Bike & Build to raise awareness and support for affordable housing (then led another cross-country ride with the same organization two years later).
In a phone interview Wednesday Ender told BikePortland he initially wanted to be a prosecutor, but while riding around Raleigh he noticed vast disparities among people who lived there. “People in other parts of the city didn’t have sidewalks and streets were unsafe. I realized this was largely a result of local government policy. Everyone pays taxes, we shouldn’t have these massive disparities and lower life expectancies in the same city.”
After law school in Portland, Ender worked briefly as an intern for Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) and then was hired as transportation policy advisor for former City Commissioner Steve Novick. Ender was also a volunteer with Better Block PDX, a group that advocates for great public spaces, and played an instrumental role in several high-profile tactical urbanism projects in Portland including: the Ankeny/3rd Ave plaza, Better Broadway, and Better Naito. (Ender won our Comment of the Week in May 2022 for his behind-the-scenes look at Better Naito.)
In 2015, Ender (speaking on behalf of Commissioner Novick) said Better Naito was emblematic of, “PBOT’s efforts to use their streets in a way that fosters economic development, tourism, and public health… a cultural shift… Instead of looking at streets to move people and goods as fast as possible, PBOT is looking at streets as public space.”
Ender’s next move was to PBOT where he worked as a project manager for nearly 5 years before leaving the City of Portland to spend a year in Turkey in 2022 (he wrote about a visit to Turkey for BikePortland in 2019) . Ender has family in Turkey and wanted his kids, now ages 5 and 3, to learn the language. After working as a transportation planning project manager at engineering firm WSP USA since the start of this year, Ender is currently a stay-at-home parent.
A resident of east Portland since 2018 (an intentional move so his children could grow up in a diverse, international community), Ender said he saw parallels between eastern Europe and eastern Portland. “It gets up to 135 degrees in Turkey and streets start melting. They experience climate change more acutely. And that’s true even in east Portland. We’re at greater risk of exposure to climate emergencies.”
To make peoples’ lives better in east Portland, Ender said he’ll take a “bottom-up” approach and will “bridge the gap” between government and people he serves. “I’m more of a community person than a government person. I went into city government because ultimately that’s where the rubber meets the road… If we can get our city government to work in a way that really meets people where they are and addresses their needs. That’s the key to creating a thriving community. “
Asked to share a specific way he’ll approach his work as a councilor, Ender said, “Listening is a key issue. To a lot of my neighbors, City Hall is invisible to them and people just don’t feel heard. That’s the starting block, and that’s going to be key for me.”
So far, Ender’s sole running mate in the District 1 race is Steph Routh, another candidate with deep connections to the local transportation advocacy scene who we reported on last week.
Also in the past week, several more people have announced candidacy for District 3 (inner southeast). They include: Jesse Cornett, a “body man” for Senator Bernie Sanders who we profiled when he ran for council in 2010; Angelita Morillo, a community organizer, former constituent relations staffer for Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, and TikTok star; and Robin Ye, a Charter Commission member and chief of staff to Oregon State Rep. Khanh Pham.
Keep in mind that because Portland is moving to ranked choice voting process, we’ll be able to rank our top candidates and the top three in each district will win a seat. This means, candidates with similar views aren’t necessarily running against each other, but rather with each other.
— Learn more about Ender’s campaign at Ender4EastPortland.com.