Former PBOT and Novick staffer Timur Ender, announces council bid

Timur Ender (yellow jacket) at Salmon St. Springs in 2015 with former Metro councilors Sam Chase, Shirley Craddick, and former Metro Planning Director Elissa Gertler. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)
Ender (middle) with PBOT’s Gabe Graff and engineer Gwen Shaw at a Better Naito event in 2017.

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.

“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.”

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.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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eawriste
eawriste
7 months ago

This is insane. There are two candidates in my district and both are street safety advocates??? To say this is unexpected would be an understatement. I’ll have to temper my hope for this next election. Maybe we can finally get separated bike lanes on 122nd?

ShadowsFolly
ShadowsFolly
7 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

While visiting Bend this summer and going through some of the newer areas with their numerous round-abouts, I saw where those helped (not the sole solution by any means) slow traffic down.
Just think if there were round-abouts on 122nd at Airport, Shaver, Fremont, I-84 on/off ramp, Halsey, Glisan, Burnside, Stark, etc and how it might slow some of the crazy traffic down.
There’s one a-hole that zooms by me every morning at easily 50 MPH while I’m waiting at my bus stop. Those straight wide open 5 lines on 122nd aren’t doing anyone any favors.

eawriste
eawriste
7 months ago
Reply to  ShadowsFolly

Agreed Shadows, particularly in the southern section that sees a lot less traffic. Roundabouts would be great. But I’d be fine with a cheap interim design that included bollards, boulders, planters and paint (something Timur has experience with). 122nd has changed very little since I was a kid. A separated bike lane would have huge economic benefits, especially if people traveling on the springwater knew they could get to restaurants/businesses quickly and safely.

David Hampsten
7 months ago
Reply to  ShadowsFolly

Once upon a time, PBOT put in a roundabout on SE 122nd at Stephens, but the David Douglas School District kept getting their yellow buses stuck on it and the district complained so much that PBOT then removed it, at a high cost to taxpayers I might add.

Fuzzy Blue Line
Fuzzy Blue Line
7 months ago
Reply to  ShadowsFolly

For some reason PBOT has been anti roundabouts for years which baffles me. I think there is 1 in the entire city on Terwilliger up by L&C. It’s strange that a city like Bend can build dozens of roundabouts yet Portland has ONE. Might be a good question to ask Peter Koonce at PBOT who manages the signals (hint, hint).

Steve
Steve
7 months ago

There are multiple roundabouts in NE, including a big one at Chavez and Glisan.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve

That’s a traffic circle, which is a different beast.

David Hampsten
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

It was actually designed as a rotary, but they later bisected it with trolley tracks and everything went downhill from there.

SD
SD
7 months ago

Fortunately, Ender and Routh aren’t necessarily “opponents” but more like “competitors” in a race where three council members will win and represent their district. It would be fantastic if they both won seats.

John D.
John D.
7 months ago

One thing that the new form of voting has the potential to bring, is groups of candidates to run together, run positive campaigns, or highlight other candidates they think their supporters should also vote for. This new system is less of a zero-sum game than a winner take all approach.

You might also see advocacy groups endorse multiple candidates in the same race.

David Hampsten
7 months ago
Reply to  John D.

Both Routh and Ender are well-known citywide, but relatively unknown in East Portland. I’m guessing those possible candidates who are well-known in East Portland but relatively unknown citywide are now building up their grass-roots support for their campaigns. East Portland has the 3 largest neighborhood associations by population – Powellhurst-Gilbert, Centennial, and Hazelwood, each with over 25,000 residents – so I’m thinking that their chairs and ex-chairs are probably considering a run for city office as feasible, particularly Arlene Kimura of Hazelwood. There’s also board members and superintendents of the David Douglas and Parkrose Public School Districts – again unknown in the rest of the city, but important and well-known in East Portland.

My guess is that candidates who file early will be those trying to get recognition in East Portland; those who are already well-known in East Portland will file much later, since there’s really no hurry.

Michael
Michael
7 months ago
Reply to  SD

If I lived in District 1, you can bet these two would likely be in my 1 and 2 spots! Over here in District 3 it looks like Rep. Pham’s chief of staff, Robin Ye, just threw his hat into the ring. I don’t know much about him as a candidate yet (he doesn’t seem to have a campaign website or anything), but if he’s Pham’s right hand man I can only imagine he’ll be another great advocate on the Council!

Timur Ender
Timur Ender
7 months ago
Reply to  SD

“co-conspirators” is probably the right word 🙂
We are trying to get into good trouble.

jakeco969
jakeco969
7 months ago
Reply to  Timur Ender

This is kind of what I meant with my previous post, that we need to get away from the club, this is just a party, I’m here to have a lot of fun candidate and find someone to run that takes this seriously. Daily commuting to places that aren’t the downtown core can be very difficult by bicycle and by bus and by foot. I don’t want someone to waste my time on the city council thinking that they are an advocate and trying to “get into good trouble”. If you’re on the council, its time to do things to make the transportation system work for all types of people of all economic backgrounds. You actually need to be getting things done for the betterment of Portland. It won’t be fun, it will be hard.

jakeco969
jakeco969
7 months ago

More candidates that are already part of the established non-profit, volunteer, PBOT, city council power structure that hasn’t done anything to make positive changes.
Still, it’s early and I hope some blue collar or even working class candidates that have a different view of transportation and commuting than the normal upper income families can find the time and energy to run against them.

Arturo P
Arturo P
7 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Yep, the current nonprofit cabal that controls Portland has not been the friend of “Everyman” or “Everywoman”.

eawriste
eawriste
7 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

Cabal
a secret political clique or faction.
“a cabal of dissidents”

Conspiracy Theory

  1. a belief that some secret but influential organization is responsible for an event or phenomenon.
  2. “they sought to account for the attacks in terms of a conspiracy theory”
Arturo P
Arturo P
7 months ago

When will Portland voters learn that electing “activists” (think Joanne Hardesty, Carmen Rubio, Chloe Eudaly) has been a a disaster for our once functional city?

Steve B
Steve B
7 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

Some of the city’s best policies in recent years came from both Hardesty’s and Eudaly’s terms. Portland Street Response. Police Accountability Commission. Rose Lanes. Street seats. For some reason these women continue to garner negative attention from some commenters despite their accomplishments. I wonder why?

Randi J
Randi J
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve B

Oh please let’s not push a false charge of sexism.

Fred
Fred
7 months ago
Reply to  Randi J

It’s possible that two things can be true at the same time: People who are sexist tend to oppose women in office, but women in office can still be terrible legislators / councilpeople – and I would argue they were terrible on many levels, which is not to say that they also didn’t do some good things.

Life is complicated.

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
7 months ago
Reply to  Randi J

How do you know its false?

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve B

Perhaps because of their other policies that ended poorly.

joan
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve B

To be fair, Arturo isn’t totally wrong. We recently elected activist Rene Gonzalez, an unmitigated disaster for Portland and for people with even an ounce of compassion.

Arturo P
Arturo P
7 months ago

The intent of Ender may be altruistic but this is a false statement:
“Everyone pays taxes, we shouldn’t have these massive disparities and lower life expectancies in the same city.”

David Hampsten
7 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

What he said about Raleigh NC is true of any city in the Deep South (and a lot of other places besides), that the historically-black east side has fewer basic amenities such as sidewalks, parks, etc., yet residents pay the same high property taxes and sales taxes.

Arturo P
Arturo P
7 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Good point. While it may be true in Raleigh it’s definitely not true in Portland. Voters here have been busy passing poorly designed taxes that “others” pay (PCEF, Homeless, Preschool,etc). Hence the exodus of taxpayers (REI, Walmart, singles making over $125K, couples over 250K). Why pay for wasteful taxes they say. They are voting with their feet.

joan
7 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

This Tar Heel notes that North Carolina is not generally regarded as part of the Deep South and has had a distinctly different political scene until the past decade or so. More North Carolinians than Oregonians voted for Barack Obama, for example. And also until recently, K-12 schools in Raleigh and Wake County were a model of a good approach to de-segregation with lessons even for Portland, which struggles to provide equitable funding and access to educational resources to Black and brown students.

David Hampsten
7 months ago
Reply to  joan

Yes, even Virginia and Florida are no longer really regarded as Deep South either – President Woodrow Wilson was born in Virginia and educated in North Carolina, but was strongly associated with New Jersey back in 1916. And Charlotte NC of course became part of California when the Bank Of America relocated there in 1998 along with the clean light rail, NASCAR, and the curb-protected bike lanes.

ralph
ralph
7 months ago

Is this the same Timur who did a bicycle version of Hood-to-Coast (no vans, no pollution), where we trailered the runner’s bike? I would vote for my former teammate if I lived in PDX, but you PDX readers could fill that gap!

SD
SD
7 months ago
Reply to  ralph

It is indeed that Timur Ender.

Fred
Fred
7 months ago
Reply to  ralph

I would vote for him for that reason alone, if I lived in his district (I don’t).

I try not to think about the annual pollution-fest that is HTC.

PTB
PTB
7 months ago

It actually doesn’t get up to 135 anywhere, yet. Some surfaces might, sure. But the air temp isn’t 135 anywhere. Climate Change is real and stressful and we can see it here in Portland, especially if you’re local. No need for hyperbole and exaggerations!

Rebecca
Rebecca
7 months ago

Both Timur Ender and Steph Routh as candidates? What an embarrassment of riches for District 1!

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
7 months ago

I think the story raises an issue with ranked choice voting that advocates need to be aware of. You only get three votes and with more than three candidates its easily possible for advocates vote to be divided and none of the candidates get enough votes to get elected even if bike advocates represent more than 25% of the voters. There needs to be an effort to narrow the field of pro-bike candidates to three.

rjsheperd
rjsheperd
7 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

Ranked-Choice Voting allows you to rank as many candidates as you like. If your top candidate does not receive enough votes, your next highest-ranked candidate will be given your vote in multiple “rounds” until there are three remaining candidates. Your vote won’t be “thrown away,” just re-distributed to other candidates.

The more candidates, the merrier.

discarded voter
discarded voter
7 months ago
Reply to  rjsheperd

Your vote won’t be “thrown away,” just re-distributed to other candidates.

PDX’s single transferable vote multi-candidate system is not at all the same thing as traditional ranked choice. Once a candidate hits 25% all additional votes for that candidate will be transferred or discarded. There are no additional “rounds” as in traditional rank choice.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  rjsheperd

Ranked-Choice Voting allows you to rank as many candidates as you like.

As long as you only like six.

Because you can’t rank them all, depending who you and others pick, your one and only vote could very well be discarded.

Steve B
Steve B
7 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

I don’t think that is true, my understanding is voters will be able to rank their choices among a field of candidates and using Single Transferable Vote, any votes beyond the 25% threshold for a single candidate are transferred to your next candidate of preference. Here’s a graphic example via League of Women Voters of what it could look like:

comment image

The # of possible rankings will depend on the voting software and implementation, which I believe is still being sussed out.

maccoinnich
7 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

There will be three candidates elected per district, but voters can rank up to six candidates. Source: https://www.portland.gov/code/2/08

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
7 months ago
Reply to  maccoinnich

I thought I had read the actual limit was likely to be three votes. If everyone gets to vote for six then the problem comes when you have more than six candidates that are pro-bike. That is obviously a lot less of a problem. The vote counting process in Portland with multiple candidates elected on the same line is a lot more complex than the LWV graphic indicates. Not to mention its likely there will be a lot more than 5 or 6 choices on the ballot.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

I thought I had read the actual limit was likely to be three votes. 

You will get one vote where you rank up to 6 candidates. After the math happens, the top 3 get elected.

discarded voter
discarded voter
7 months ago
Reply to  maccoinnich

but voters can rank up to six candidates

If there is a large cohort of candidates and the spread of votes is narrow, this could result in a high-percentage of votes being discarded and the election of candidates with a small percentage of the total vote. The charter commission majority bloc was repeatedly warned about this intrinsic flaw in “strong” STV voting but they dismissed these concerns because they, apparently, valued election of niche candidates more than ensuring a fair vote.

Please consider supporting a fairer and more democratic municipal voting system that does not discard votes by signing the Star Voting Ballot initiative (which will start to circulate soon):

https://www.starvoting.org/star4or2024

Ross Williams
Ross Williams
7 months ago

People voted, you lost. Perhaps we should wait to have some real experience with the new voting system before we decide to change it based on the imagined problems of its opponents.

We don’t really need another brilliant new idea from different group of bright people with the ability to imagine all the future abstract problems that will occur. Of course actual experience so limiting compared to fertile imagination.

There is a real danger that people don’t understand even abstractly how this system works. There is this pitch that electability is no longer a factor in who you should vote for. That isn’t actually the way the system works. If there are 12 pro-bike candidates on the ballot and bike advocates spread their votes among them based solely on who they like best its not at all unlikely none of them will get elected.

Damien
Damien
7 months ago
Reply to  Ross Williams

I think the story raises an issue with ranked choice voting that advocates need to be aware of. You only get three votes and with more than three candidates its easily possible for advocates vote to be divided and none of the candidates get enough votes to get elected even if bike advocates represent more than 25% of the voters. There needs to be an effort to narrow the field of pro-bike candidates to three.

AKA: The spoiler effect. Ranked choice (in whatever flavor, save for maybe the sorts where you can rank candidates equally)’s dirty little secret is that it actually doesn’t do away with the spoiler effect. It lessens it to a degree, but mostly it just obfuscates it (even with the correction of 6 rankings).

Wasn’t enough for me to vote against charter reform, but damned if I’m still not annoyed they didn’t go with the much better option on the table (favored by the commission’s own voting subcommittee 3:1), STAR.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
7 months ago

How does one become a transportation policy advisor without experience?