Fred Stewart remembers how it used to be in the city where he grew up and spent his entire life. Back in “the old days” there was a stronger sense of community engagement and community support for one’s neighbors and friends. That’s what Fred Stewart wants to help foster when he’s elected to the Portland City Council in 2016!
People connected more with their city government in years back. And City Hall was open to their ideas, their plans and their hoped for aspirations for the community they were committed to living in and improving for the better.
That feeling of community engagement and warmth has slowly eroded. It’s not the same city that it used to be and I, Fred Stewart, want to bring some of that warmth back to Portland and back to City Hall.
There will always be plenty of meetings to attend for the citizens of Portland, if they are made to feel appreciated and made to feel welcome. There will always be ways to get involved but the feeling citizens used to get from their local government is not there anymore. It’s been replaced with a cold and impersonal attitude of separatism, where the elected leaders and the common citizen stand at opposite ends of the struggle. Citizens are no longer encouraged to become a part of the government that is dedicated and obligated to serve them in quite the same way that they used to, in “the old days.”
It seems that in today’s Portland certain individuals, who may have more influence, and their views are more welcome in City Hall, than the shared views and perspectives of the local people who have often lived their entire lives here. Longtime residents of Portland, (who may be from specific parts of town) or people who are not big financial donors are ignored, not listened to and made to feel they don’t matter. Their concerns and perspectives are thrown to the wayside, and they are made to feel unimportant in the political process and invisible as a result.
Lost in the ongoing discussion of the complex transportation issues, to take one contemporary example, is the long history of investment some people have made in their business and how transportation issues may impact their livelihood in the future. The reality however is that their perspectives are important, and they deserve to be listened to, by their elected leaders, not ultimately ignored.
Changing rules overnight should not be done with people past the investment’s in mind, which need to be considered. What we need to solve our future transportation problems is a level playing field so the free market can decide and make those decisions fairer to all involved.
Lost is the feeling of eager public service that connected citizens with their elected official in a relationship of gratitude, mutual support and friendly communication. Instead we in Portland have gotten a feeling of arrogance and entitlement from elected officials, many of whom have no history in our town and no real commitment to staying in Portland for the long haul.
That arrogance and disengagement on the part of elected officials pushes the everyday citizen further away from the political process and further away from the feeling that they have a say in important decisions that impact the common men and women of Portland, who are committed to staying in Portland.
City commissioners lately have been doing TO Portland, and not FOR Portland. Rarely do citizens, despite working hard through the official process, feel the final decision on important issues shows any kind of empathy or consideration for their lives, and their struggles and the realities of what survival means to them on a personal level. These issues include a livable wage, fair housing that all can afford and access to employment opportunities and education.
The solution to these complex dilemmas is to elect officials who are intimately and historically connected to their community, as I am. Although my main concern over the past couple of decades has been growing and maintaining my thriving real estate business, I have also been intensely committed to serving the people of my community in whatever ways were needed.
I served officially as a neighborhood leader, volunteer and activist in a variety of capacities, and doing a variety of things, but I also served my community in more personal ways as well. I have met and worked with people from all over Portland and I’ve developed countless friendships, community engagement networks through volunteering and other networking systems.
People who know me will tell you I could not have accomplished all that I have without being brave enough to listen to the people around me, and that means listening to Portlanders, and asking questions, also. I don’t have all the answers, no one does but I have always been smart enough to listen to the people around me, and that is the sense of connection I want to bring back to city hall. I want to adopt an open door policy where every citizen can contact me, via phone, email or in person, to discuss what matters to them and what they want from me, as a leader.
Everyone knows we can do better in transportation, urban planning, social services and much more. I want a better, safer, fairer Portland, not a Portland encumbered by petty desires and jealousies that create plans that go nowhere and only stay on a sheet of paper.
I want to be the public servant you can count on. I may not always agree with every approach or opinion, but I am the kind of leader you can talk to. The kind of leader you can both teach and learn from, and that’s because I know how important and how positive connections can be, for all.
Let’s begin this process by promising ourselves – all of us, of all income brackets, education levels and all types of people, who populate this great city, that we can make better connections. We can create social and city connections that actually do make Portland a better place for all of us.
I am asking you to pledge your support to me, Fred Stewart, on Election Day because I have pledged my support and my dedication and loyalty to everyone in my community of Portland, Oregon. That commitment will not change. It will only grow stronger by the day, as I am able to create positive change.
Help me become the leader that Portland needs right now. A leader who has developed relationships over decades with community members and everyday citizens; a leader who cares about where this city is going and a leader who cares about preserving the elements of Portland that make it uniquely our city!
Help me help Portland! Pledge your support to me, Fred Stewart!