Portland, you have a gambling problem.
We’re telling you this as a friend. For too many years, the voters of this city have rolled the dice on engaging but troubled politicians, spun a roulette wheel of tax hikes, and thrown the dice on big-bet ideas that have come up snake eyes.
Maybe that riverboat risk-taking is an inevitable byproduct of our idealism. Portland loves to look to the next big thing, to be the city that leaps beyond the everyday.
But the results of those gambles haven’t been pretty.
We’ve ended up with a City Hall unwilling to tame a police force that too often greets the mentally ill with Tasers. City bureaus stab each other in the back over the dwindling dollars not sucked up by pension funds and urban renewal debt. People in the surrounding counties reject our utopian vision and warn of “Portland creep”—and don’t think the suburbs have missed the double meaning of creep.
There is no governor’s race or U.S. senator’s seat up for grabs in Oregon this year. But the races for two statewide offices—secretary of state and labor commissioner—are far more competitive than usual. The Oregon House, currently split 30-30 for the first time ever, is up for grabs. And the Democrats’ control of the state Senate hangs by a single-vote margin.
In 2013, state lawmakers will face big pressure to double down (triple down, actually) on the slow-motion car wreck called the Columbia River Crossing. The ballot measures include a few callow get-rich-quick schemes for people other than you.
So if we have to sum up our endorsements, it comes down to this bit of advice: Stop gambling.
We’ve proposed choices that offer the least risk, the best chance of breaking the city’s addiction to grandiose flailing, and a sober approach in Salem.
We’ve backed candidates with an array of political views, Democrats and Republicans. We’ve said yes to some tax proposals, and no to others.
Along the way, we asked candidates to describe themselves in a single word, or to name what they would change about their nature, or to pick one superpower they’d like to have.
But mostly we’re asking you to take a breather from magical thinking.
Stick with things that work.
Play it safe.
No more risky business.
NOTE TO OUR READERS: Following our policy this year, we aren’t endorsing in the race for Oregon attorney general between Republican James Buchal and the Democratic incumbent, Ellen Rosenblum, wife of WW’s publisher, Richard Meeker.