Portland City Council District 2 (N/NE) candidate Mariah Hudson joined me for a brief interview today. I was first introduced to Mariah through her role as chair of the PBOT Bureau & Budget Advisory Committee. When I heard she was running for council and was a daily rider who bikes with young kids, I knew I had to chat with her.
The interview above (and just posted to the BP YouTube channel, which you should subscribe to!) is part of a new series, “15 Minutes With” where I chat with interesting folks for 15 minutes (or so). Thanks for your patience while I dial things in and make this part of our regular offerings. I’ve got an exciting list of folks I want to talk to; but if you’ve got ideas or want to be interviewed yourself, please send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, back to Mariah…
In our interview she shares that she’s got two kids in Portland Public Schools (first and seventh grades) and is a daily bike commuter from the Alameda neighborhood to OHSU where she works in public health communications. Mariah is also on the PPS budget committee and has served as a leader of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods. Asked why she’s running for council, Mariah said, “To try and make a difference, to clean up the city, to help people with safety so that my kids and others will want to live here and can afford to live here in the future.”
Mariah rides a Rad Power Radwagon, longtail e-cargo bike and said, “It’s been a game changer, especially in terms of going into work.” Having the e-bike has made her 10-mile round trip commute often quicker than driving and she can show up to work without being sweaty.
Here are a few other exchanges from our conversation:
What are some things about PBOT’s budget you were surprised about or learned by being on the committee?
“Our group is a community advisory group for the budget, and it’s intended to provide accountability and really make sure that community priorities are reflected in those budgets. I think something that would surprise a lot of people is how much of the PBOT’s transportation budget is really not flexible, it’s committed to long-term projects — everything from the Sellwood Bridge to long-term road projects. There’s really only about 20% of the budget that’s flexible in any given year that can be assigned to things like safety or potholes or special projects or Sunday Parkways that’s not already committed.”
How should Portland balance the tension between solving transportation congestion problems through maintaining a lot of car traffic like we have now, or shifting that space and using it for mass transit and bike lanes?
“Well, you’re right, there is a tension and oftentimes that tension plays out in terms of ‘Do people really have the ability or not to shift modes easily?’ And when I say the ability, I mean the ability within our current system. Like, if it’s 20 minutes to take a bus downtown and it’s 10 minutes to drive. It might be more like an hour if you’re coming from certain parts of Portland. How feasible that is for you is something that we absolutely need to consider.”
Given you experience with schools, what’s your opinion about school pick-up and drop-off lines and do you think there’s something that a city council member could do about that issue?
“Well, my personal pick-up and drop-off line is very, very short because I can scoot on my bike or I can walk my kids. I’m also in the Alameda neighborhood, so I take the bike bus with my kids sometimes on Wednesdays. And I will say I think that’s a great direction that our city can expand in terms of getting kids to school and really thinking about those safe routes to school. And there’s safety in numbers. We’re also training kids for the future, showing them it’s possible, showing them it’s fine to ride in the rain.
I don’t know what the answer is at the [school entrance] for cars, but you know, for people who are a little farther out, giving them that taste of what it could be like to ride or to walk is a great place to start.”
Listen to the full interview above, and come to Bike Happy Hour next week (Weds, 2/7) to meet Mariah in person. Learn more about her at MariahForPortland.com.