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About The Southwest Portland Post. (Portland, Oregon) 2007-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 1, 2008)
The Southwest Portland Post • 3
Candidates for City Council debate economy, dirt roads, and schools
By Kate Bennett
Special to The Southwest Portland Post
On the night of October 20 th , ap-
proximately 50 people showed up at
the Multnomah Center auditorium for
coffee, neighborly conversation and
the Portland City Council Position #1
In the space of an hour, Amanda Fritz,
50, and Charles Lewis, 36, (the top two
candidates in the primary election)
each explained why they thought they
were best qualified for the City Com-
The debate began with moderator
Brian Russell, president of Southwest
Neighborhoods, Inc., asking which
candidate would like to go first. After
a brief silence, Lewis looked as if he
was about to volunteer to go first, until
Fritz exclaimed that every debate has to
start with a coin toss and that it must
Russell obtained a coin, tossed it and
called out “heads.” Fritz won. She de-
ferred to Lewis.
For better or worse, this initial ex-
change immediately highlighted some
of the character differences between
the two candidates. Fritz appeared to
be assertive and law-abiding.
Lewis, although law-abiding, ap-
peared to be a bit more flexible and
subdued. Throughout the debate, these
candidate’s characteristics showed
themselves in the candidates’ stated
interests, priorities and plans.
In his three-minute opening state-
ment, Lewis calmly commented on the
need to strengthen local schools, the im-
portance of job creation, and his desire
to create “vibrant neighborhoods.”
Lewis noted that he lives in the Cully
neighborhood on a “dirt road” and that
he understands the importance of good
Fritz, sounding resolute and impas-
sioned, stated that she wants Portland
to provide basic services to all of Port-
land’s 95 neighborhoods and 35 busi-
Fritz said she wants to “make sure
that every penny is spent wisely” and
that “citizens’ voices are heard.” She
remarked that she has lived in south-
west Portland for the past 22 years and
understands the specific issues facing
When looking at resumes, each can-
didate is equally impressive. Lewis
attended the University of Portland
which he followed with a two-year
stay in the Congo as a Peace Corps
Upon his return to the states, he at-
tended Harvard University where he
obtained a Masters Degree in public
policy. After graduating from Harvard,
he moved back to Portland where he
founded the Ethos Music Center.
Fritz, originally from England, at-
tended Cambridge University. In 1979
she moved to Pennsylvania where
she obtained her nursing degree. Her
degree has led to a rewarding 22-year
career with OHSU as an inpatient
psychiatric nurse. Fritz has also been a
dedicated community activist.
The 30-minute question-and-answer
section predominantly focused on the
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current economy, dirt roads, and schools.
Most of Lewis’ answers combined his
interest in “common-sense solutions”
with innovation. As example, one of
his answers to Portland’s impending
budget crisis is to create jobs.
Lewis explained how he came up
with an innovative solution to create
jobs though by founding Ethos Music
Center, a successful non-profit that now
has 78 employees.
Regardless of the issue, Fritz’s an-
swers emphasized the need to prioritize
and for everyone to work together. One
of her responses to our city’s impending
budget crisis is to focus on smaller bud-
getary items such as how to transport
children to school, rather than big ticket
items such as “global warming or the
$4.2 billion dollar (Interstate) Bridge.”
Fritz stressed the “need to prioritize,
to work with other jurisdictions and
to use budget money wisely.” She also
made a point to tell the audience that
she is not afraid to tell her fellow com-
missioners, “We don’t have the money
to do that right now.”
As the debate was drawing to a close,
Russell asked the candidates this ques-
tion: “If elected, which bureau would
you want?” Fritz immediately stated,
“The Office of Neighborhood Involve-
ment.” She claimed that the Office of
Neighborhood Involvement is “stra-
tegically placed to make our city work
Fritz’s strengths appeared to be her
extensive knowledge of Portland’s
communities and neighborhoods, her
confidence to say it how it is, and her
desire to involve everyone.
Lewis stated that he wants the Bureau
of Housing and Community Develop-
ment, as “housing is so critical to so
many things here in Portland.” He also
mentioned how, if elected, he would
create a local community corps that
would enlist individuals to work exclu-
sively on community development.
Lewis’s strengths appeared to be an
ability to befriend most anyone, a dedi-
cation to social justice and a laudable
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