City Council candidate Rex Burkholder on why he’s running

Rex Burkholder at Bike Happy Hour, April 10th. (Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Portland City Council candidate Rex Burkholder wants one of the three seats in District 3, and he visited Bike Happy Hour on April 10th to tell us why. As I do whenever a candidate shows up, I handed Burkholder the mic and let him share his stump speech.

Under sunny skies on the Gorges Beer Co patio overlooking the SE Ankeny Rainbow Road Plaza, Burkholder grabbed the mic and stepped up onto a bench. Below is most of his speech (edited slightly for clarity):

“Despite some of the noise that we hear, especially from some of our downtown business owners, Portland is still a rockin’ place. You try to go out for dinner or something, you can’t get a seat. And the theaters are full. And I went to music last night, at the Old Church, and it was jammed. I mean, this is a great place to live! And I think we have to remember that.

“I’m running because I’m not ready to garden for the rest of my life. This town needs help. It needs work.”

This is a great place to work and it’s a great place to live because of actions of people like you who got involved in the community.

I got started as a member of my neighborhood association… I ended up being part of a bicycle club with a bunch of people who basically said, ‘Shouldn’t we be able to ride our bicycles without being killed and threatened? Maybe bike lanes would make sense.’ Those were radical ideas.

And that group actually got launched by Jay Graves, who used to own the Bike Gallery stores. He sent us a $300 check with a note saying, ‘You get one of these every month, as long as you keep doing your good work.’ And we looked each other and go, ‘What the hell are we gonna’ do with $300?!’ I’m saying, well, let’s hire somebody. Let’s go professional. And that was the start of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

I’m running because I’m not ready to garden for the rest of my life. This town needs help. It needs work. It needs people who know how to organize and bring peoples’ voices to the table. And that’s why I’m really excited with this new form of government — and also kind of a little worried that we get a lot of people who are just really just gung-ho advocates for an idea. I think they’ll get bamboozled by the bureaucracies.

We have lots of plans, don’t we? We’ve got to put them in into action. And that’s why I’m running.”


RexForPDX.com. Browse more of our 2024 City Council election coverage here.

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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jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago

At least he’s honest enough to say he’s running because he’s bored. Also, I appreciate he adhered to the progressive political uniform of (the working persons) blue jeans and outdid himself with a flannel top.
Sorrow at some of the candidates aside, it’s great that JM is running these articles as its such a good chance to see them unfiltered.

Angus Peters
Angus Peters
1 month ago

Rex’s campaign website is devoid of any substance…just pleasantries mostly about how great Portland is. He says “it needs work” but doesn’t seem like he really accepts the major problems and serious governmental dysfunction that is plaguing Portland today or how to fix them.
I was afraid the expansion of the City Council with highly paid jobs and minimal responsibility would get us candidates like this. He’s a no for me.
https://www.rexforpdx.com/

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago

Burkholder was a supporter of the massive CRC highway expansion project so the idea that this moderate and “compromise-prone” politician would champion a shift away from the bloody and ecocidal autombile seems doubtful.

PS: I’m not voting so liberals should feel free to comment about how awful it is that I’m not voting.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

It’s awful that you’re not voting.

Wait: Does that make me a “liberal”? Or perhaps illiberal.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

Thanks for providing this info about all of the candidates.

The wonderful thing about our new districts is that I no longer have to worry about ALL of the candidates and I can concentrate on just the ones running in my district. So I am happy to give this interview with Rex a miss but I’m glad people living in his district have more info about him.

Lizzie
Lizzie
1 month ago

I’ve met Rex before and he strikes me as a pleasant and decent person who has had good ideas. My complaint is that he says he’s running because he’s “not ready to garden”. The Boomer generation needs to let other people step into leadership. They seem to have missed the memo that it’s the natural order for them to need to step back. The generation prior to them (silent) did not hold on to power! He could be a mentor to a younger person running for office! He could volunteer on a campaign! He doesn’t have to retire and garden, but he also doesn’t need to run just to avoid facing his next stage in life.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Lizzie

Far better articulated than I was able too.

buildwithjoe
1 month ago
Reply to  Lizzie

Rex lacks the strong ethics we need to save the planet and run a city. He makes no apology for authoring a climate arson resolution as a metro council member. I asked him directly. His answer was: “I was just doing my job”. He told me this at a Friends of Trees event at the Wonder Ballroom. You don’t forget being gaslighted by a rich white man in a dark room. This excuse was a few weeks after I had to sit for hours of invited guests that got to speak about the benefits of a wider freeway, and only after that could the public speak. He was the sales person pushing a massive freeway widening project. And the project had no measurable goals. It was also sold with a pack of lies. Exposing those lies got a Pulitzer Prize Journalist yet another award.

May 31, 2011
https://www.wweek.com/portland/article-17566-a-bridge-too-false.html

And later that same year comes Rex
https://www.oregonmetro.gov/sites/default/files/2014/04/25/08122011_Metro_Council_resolution_adopting_CRC_LUFO_unsigned.pdf

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
28 days ago
Reply to  buildwithjoe

BuildwithJoe, The N/S MAX extension was rejected by voters in Nov 1998 largely because the route proposed had objectionably high impacts. The worst segment was Rose Quarter to Expo Center (east and west embankments of I-5 ODOT jurisdiction). Being an advocate for MAX and a regular at Metro Thursday meetings back t hen, I urged planners go back to the drawing board. In a mere 6 months, the replacement Interstate Ave alignment won my support. So too, the downtown route on Harrison was moved to Lincoln. The Willamette River bridge alignment moved to Caruthers. The route in SE Portland moved to a median on SE 17th and the route through Milwaukie also moved. All were major improvements in these segments of the proposed route.

The question is, why didn’t N/S MAX planners recognize these more ideal routes from the start? It’s since come to me that planners were caught “red-handed” planning the project to death.

More recently, the SW Corridor MAX proposal was rejected by voters in 2020. There too, that project was planned to be rejected AND planned to make traffic hazards so much worse, the accident rating should’ve quantified an unacceptable increase in multi-car pileups and passenger, pedestrian, cyclist injury and fatalities! The SW MAX project on State Hwy 99W (ODOT jurisdiction) was intentionally planned to death. It met NONE of the basic metrics that determine support, starting with Public Safety, then Public Health, Urban & Environmental Impact, gains in transit patronage and development (both exaggerated), and lastly various costs (planning, construction, operation, finance) were “prohibitively” expensive.

Just as the SW Corridor MAX extension proposal puts the public in harm’s way, so too the Rose Quarter I-5 widening “improvement” puts the public in harm’s way. ODOT and Metro is knowingly and deceitfully planning an unacceptable accident rate there too.

I am calling for a Federal Investigation of ODOT, Metro, PBOT and Tri-Met directors, department heads and project managers to be indicted and face the following criminal charges: “Intentional misdirection of project studies to predetermined outcomes” (principally development), “Willful concealment of safety concerns from the public” and if left unaddressed “Reckless Endangerment” and “Negligent Homicide.”

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
25 days ago
Reply to  buildwithjoe

BuildwithJoe’s “Rex was the sales person pushing a massive freeway widening project” from 2011 refers to the CRC I-5 Bridge replacement. Rex should NOT be considered its main proponent. After more than 7 years of “planning” the 2011 design released to the public was peer reviewed and widely condemned as “structurally unsound.” The project was finally cancelled in 2013 after 3 additional proposals likewise deemed structurally unsound.

Current ODOT director Kris Strickler and Metro Council president Lynn Peterson are most to blame as project managers at the time within WsDOT. These two remain public employees because they held no agency leaders responsible for the glaring flaws in bridge design.

Its main flaw today is the double-deck vs single-deck question. From 2004-2008 single-deck bridge designs were then and today remain the only sensible option. Double-deck designs 2009-2013 complicated all aspects of bridge design yet remain a viable option.

As for “widening” the I-5 Bridge, the supportable number of lanes with single-deck design is 5-lanes northbound, 4-lanes southbound, a 3-lane transit/ped/bikeway span furthest west. (the 5th lane northbound is necessary for heavier afternoon rush hour traffic, and the exits to SR14 East and downtown Vancouver are simply too close together).

The transit span forms an emergency access corridor plainly impossible located on the lower deck of any double-deck design. In an emergency, MAX trains must come to a halt, unlike buses which could steer around stopped emergency vehicles. MAX should extend from Expo Center to a surface station on Hayden Island with a timed junction to an extension of the Vancouver BRT line. I’m not sure much progress has been made overall. I’d eliminate the 3rd central underpass on Hayden Island which seems to indicate the planners are once again putting lucrative development interests ahead of public safety. Here too, a federal investigation of ODOT, WsDOT, PBOT, Metro & Tri-Met is warranted.

 

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
25 days ago
Reply to  Art Lewellan

edit in 3rd paragraph: “Double-deck designs 2009-2013 complicated all aspects of bridge design yet (for no good reason) remain a credible option.”

Surly Ogre
Joe Bicycles
1 month ago

It would be great to have someone on city council who is in favor of people riding bicycles. Rex did not say he is bored, he said he wants to help.
let’s bring the spirit of BTA back to Portland.
https://vimeo.com/129237966
It was true 12 years ago and it is still true today.
the jet pack is finally here and it’s a bicycle
https://vimeo.com/27591364 <– CRANK UP THE VOLUME FOR THIS ONE !!

Steve
Steve
21 days ago

Rex has made some important contributions to the city and I’m grateful for that, but nothing in his statement or website makes him appear to be a better choice than some of the leading candidates in D3. Right now in D3 I’m leaning Morillo, Ye and Novick.