Meet Mayoral Candidate Keith Wilson at Bike Happy Hour this week

Business owner and nonprofit leader Keith Wilson has thrown his hat into the ring to become Portland’s next mayor, and you can meet him in person at Bike Happy Hour this week (Weds., 2/14 from 3:00 to 6:00 pm at Ankeny Tap).

I’ve seen Wilson operate in political, business, and advocacy spheres and have come away impressed. He not only has interesting ideas, he does the hard work it takes to give them legs. This is not an endorsement of Wilson, I’m just relaying my experience covering and working with him since 2020.

In 2020 he got a nice round of applause at a transportation-focused candidate forum when he answered a question about how to make streets safer by saying the number one problem is distracted driving. But he wasn’t just throwing out an answer, Wilson had proven results to back it up. As CEO of Titan Freight Systems (a company that operates 45 trucks and 120 trailers across three states), Wilson pioneered technology in his cabs that uses AI to track driver movements and then sent alerts back to the office. According to a trucking industry media outlet, “In 10 months of use, Titan reduced the number of daily unsafe events by 77% with the exterior cameras enabled.”

Wilson hosted the director of the Oregon Department of Transportation to his company for a close-up look at the technology and wants to help implement something similar in city and state fleets. “Call me and let me give you a run through,” he wrote in an email to me in 2020. “You will be amazed and walk away knowing that the solution to Vision Zero is near.”

After Sarah Pliner was killed on SE Powell Blvd, I called Wilson to have him help me understand the trucker’s perspective for a story I was working on. Wilson’s detailed analysis of the crash and his obvious care about what happened, is something that stuck with me. He also became a member of the SE Powell Blvd Working Group that formed to hasten safety improvements after Pliner’s death. But he didn’t just attend meetings and offer insights, Wilson went above-and-beyond and came up with a fully fleshed-out design proposal for how the lanes on SE 26th can be reconfigured in a way that provides more room for bicycling and still allows trucks to use the intersection.

[Read a BikePortland interview with Wilson from the 2020 city council race.]

In a recent email, Wilson shared that he’s been to Amsterdam twice in the past two years to learn more about homelessness and drug decriminalization policy. “Every time I went out onto the street,” Wilson shared. “I was so impressed with their modal mix, which heavily features bikes. I want to make their reality — and our dream — actualized in Portland.”

Another European transportation staple Wilson wants to bring to Oregon is high speed rail. He’s an advisory board member of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association and in 2022 sampled several HSR lines in France and Italy.

Wilson has experiences beyond trucks and transportation. He’s traveled to Portugal to learn about drug decriminalization and he founded Shelter Portland, a nonprofit that builds temporary, overnight shelters and helps get people off the streets. Wilson is also a leading voice in his industry about the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from truck fleets.

It will be a tall order for Wilson to crack into the top of the mayor’s race. When he ran for council in 2020, he received just 5.2% of the vote and finished fourth with just one-fifth the support of eventual winner Mingus Mapps. Now Wilson faces a surging Rene Gonzalez who has broad support and is a master at getting media attention.

In the new form of government, the mayor will no longer serve alongside city council members. While councilors focus on developing policy, the mayor will have authority over all city business and will oversee (and hire) the city administrator. Whoever is elected to this position will have a tie-breaking vote on council measures and will hire our next police chief and city attorney.

If you want see if Keith is up to the task, a good place to start will be at tomorrow night’s Bike Happy Hour. He’ll arrive around 4:00 pm and we’ll get on the mics around 5:00 and then open it up to audience Q & A. And yes it’s Valentine’s Day, so there will be even more love than usual to go ’round. Bring your date before your special night, or come find a special friend at BHH!

KeithWilsonforMayor.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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idlebytes
idlebytes
3 months ago

I wonder if he still thinks PBOTs road quieting and speed reduction methods are not working. I wasn’t particularly impressed with that response to the calming treatments PBOT had recently made to dangerous streets like Glisan, Halsey, and 102nd. I’m not saying PBOT doesn’t have some pretty bad designs, for instance I dislike a lot of their half measures to appease drivers, but I do think restricting traffic and reducing speeds improves safety.

The distracted driving tech sounds great and implementing it in city and state fleets is a good idea but how many crashes and road deaths are at the hands of city and state employees? It’s not a solution to a majority of the crashes here. Calmer roads are a part of the solution and something PBOT can and should be doing.

Damien
Damien
3 months ago

I am very pleased to see a candidate not currently on city council. That already raises him to first on my ballot (out of…one, so far).

I do need to start going to these happy hours, though tomorrow’s landing on Valentine’s Day probably won’t be the first. I’ll be keen to hear what Wilson has to say, in any event.

Shawne Martinez (Guest author)
Shawne Martinez
3 months ago

Keith was in the same PSU/PBOT Transportation class with me and several other bikey folks. I appreciate that the time was taken to attend the class and learn the history of transportation in Portland.

Surly Ogre
joe bicycles
3 months ago

Keith was really great at Bicycle Happy Hour last night.
He seems to have a good understanding of how to solve problems.
He understands the need to prioritize safety over profits.
His company prioritizes Quality, Safety and Sustainability
Now he needs support and budget

Paul Cone
Paul Cone
3 months ago

You said Pliner, but I think you mean Sarah Pliner.