“The public concern about traffic is a great opportunity, but also a great risk if we don’t have right leaders in place.”
— Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust
If Portland has any chance of reaching its transportation goals and bashing through the ceiling of the driving-dominated status quo, we must have more progressive politicians who fear the consequences of inaction more than a few angry constituents and tough headlines.
That’s the thinking behind the newly created Street Trust Action Fund, a new 501(c)(4) arm of the Portland-based nonprofit.
The Street Trust as we know it today is a 501(c)(3), a federal status that limits their ability to get directly involved with politics — whether through lobbying for specific legislation or the support of specific candidates for office. As a 501(c)(4) The Street Trust Action Fund will be able to endorse political candidates and lobby for issues without limitation. Unlike a 501(c)(3) however, donations to the new entity will not be tax deductible.
Reached for an interview via phone today, The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler said they plan to launch the new organization with a fundraising party this Thursday (6/28). In the short-term, they plan to focus on two key political races: a Portland City Council seat that’s up for grabs and a Washington County Chair race. “We think it’s really important to connect with those candidates and provide some guidance [to the community] about who we think will be strongest for transportation.” In addition, Detweiler says the new 501(c)(4) status will help them more fully engage with the ongoing effort to build support for a major transportation funding bond that will emerge in 2020.