Candidate Spotlight: Ozzie González
Running for Portland City Mayor
Thank you to Ozzie González for participating in our Candidate Spotlight series! Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association (BDNA) is happy to provide this virtual introduction to your candidates for Portland Mayor. For a full list of candidates, click here.
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Answers to Neighborhood Questions:
1. Homelessness is a crisis in all of Portland, but has disproportionately negative effects in SE and East Portland. Explain how you will address this situation in a compassionate and expedient manner, balancing the needs of both the housed and houseless.
Candidate Answer: For people without stable housing, my objective is clear: end random camping in the streets. My aim is to provide places where people can go to meet their basic needs, receive referrals for services, and take the initial steps towards becoming part of the community. I will give people without jobs and homes a secure means to get money by doing something that provides purpose and helps the city. This will require working with other agencies, groups like yourselves, and faith communities such as Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and others in your neighborhood to identify designated sites for overnight and daytime services. I will do the legwork necessary to connect the dots and activate our community networks in an efficient and effective manner.
2. With the implementation of the Residential Infill Project, there will be a lot of new development in areas with larger lots like SE and East Portland. How will you create opportunities for and encourage the development of affordable and accessible housing, while also guarding against displacement and gentrification?
Candidate Answer: The City has a responsibility to ensure that it has standards for all the types of housing needed in our city—senior, workforce, affordable, low-income, middle-income, high-income, supportive, co-housing, prefabricated, modular, pop-up, emergency, transitional, multi-family, universally accessible, and mobile. The City also has a responsibility to ensure that when new development comes to a neighborhood, unintended displacement is prevented. My policy agenda includes anti-displacement measures for housing infill projects and incorporates universal design standards that exceed ADA requirements. I have personally seen the impact universal design has on people’s lives and I am excited to bring universal access design principles to public buildings and housing design standards.
3. SE and East Portland have by far the greatest number of unimproved roads in all of Portland. Brentwood-Darlington alone has over 4 miles. How will you rectify this infrastructure imbalance without cost-burdening an already historically underserved area?
Candidate Answer: Transportation infrastructure and neighborhood revitalization improvements need to be focused on East County for the next decade and Brentwood-Darlington is among the neglected parts of the city past due for infrastructure improvements. My Transit Oriented Development policy will ensure that those infrastructure improvements are done in conjunction with neighborhood investments throughout East County that result in a better mix of jobs and housing, neighborhood options for fresh produce and other services, and an overall improvement in the walkability and safety of the neighborhood. I look forward to hearing from you about what you would like to see us address first.
4. Portland Bureau of Transportation has been installing many traffic calming measures and lowering speed limits all over SE and East Portland. How will you provide the means to enforce these new measures, despite staffing level challenges?
Candidate Answer: There are many techniques such as striping, signage, and surface treatments used by transportation engineers to enforce traffic calming measures and I think those should be employed as a first line of enforcement. My policy to create transit corridors that separate motorized from non-motorized travel is another way to make streets safer for everyone while making enforcement much easier to do. I already have a “Safe Streets Initiative” that will introduce street visibility projects to neighborhoods so that lighting, signage, vegetation, and other visual obstructions are addressed. Whether its reducing speeds or improving visibility, I know the best solutions will be informed by local resident input and may even be different from one neighborhood to another. I propose to bring the urgency of street safety to the top of the agenda as part of my transportation and mobility vision for the city.
5. Garbage and graffiti are ongoing issues in SE and East Portland. What will you do to take the burden of neighborhood clean-up off the shoulders of volunteers?
Candidate Answer: By addressing trash and vandalism in our communities, I think we have an opportunity to clean up our city, create career opportunities, and restore the working relationship between the City and Neighborhood Associations. I have a plan to create a city-wide community service program for city cleanup, habitat restoration, and neighborhood food production projects that will take the burden of managing the programs off of volunteers and provide a funding stream for Neighborhood Associations to manage programs in their neighborhood. The work done by neighborhood associations is valuable to the city as a whole and will be supported under my leadership.
6. In several areas of SE, illegal activity occurs on a daily basis, often for years at a time. Neighbors continuously report this activity, only to be told that the individual is, in short, not worth arresting. Many of these individuals have had multiple contacts with the police. How will you address the revolving door in Portland’s criminal justice system that allows these chronic conditions to continue?
Candidate Answer: My objective is to put the focus back on reform. Even though my impact on the justice system will be limited as Mayor, I intend to lead the Portland Police Bureau towards setting a new standard for community policing. I intend to diversify the rank and file and reimagine their neighborhood presence by redesigning uniforms and having more patrols on bicycle, e-scooter, and on foot. I will bring back local youth cadet training programs and connect with local community organizations to create pathways for youth across the city. Also, I plan to expand the first responder program so the calls involving non-violent crimes and property crimes are addressed by the appropriate specialists. A general de-militarization of the first contact point and a shift of focus from “enforcement” to “public safety” will help change how we see police and, more importantly, how they see themselves.
7. Much of the Public transportation in SE and East Portland is infrequent and does not serve large swaths of the area. This creates an imbalance in which our neighbors are forced to drive more and pay a larger portion of the associated costs and taxes. Even neighbors who prefer to take transit, can only do so in certain directions and often not on the weekend. How will you work to rectify the imbalance in transit access in our area?
Candidate Answer: There is only one way to rectify this imbalance in transit access: by expanding transit service in your area. The transit agency is undergoing a record period of expansion of service and the lion’s share of it is occurring in East County. The Powell Garage expansion is scheduled to be completed in two years and with it will come the ability to deploy many new electric buses in East County. But I am not going to rely on Trimet’s efforts alone! By supporting new developments in East County that bring more jobs and services to the area, the need to travel long distances for daily needs will be greatly reduced.
I also want to acknowledge that there is a limiting factor to the expansion of service in the region: operators. It takes years to train operators and I propose to begin doing that immediately. My plan to work with the trade unions and Portland Public Schools to create career learning opportunities for students to experience the life of bus operators and train technicians will help build the workforce needed to deliver the service capacity East County needs.