Host, Dr. Don Baham, interviews guest about how and why he chose to become a political public servant in pursuit of his desire to be of service to his fellow citizens. Fred appears to personify dedication to progressive ideas and action.
I will lead the City of Portland in developing the type of Police Bureau that will reflect the values of the people of Portland. We are one of the safest cities in the United States, and we can do better. ~ Fred Stewart
Fifty years ago, our grandparents came together to decide how the Portland Police Bureau would change and develop over time. They epitomized civic engagement through their involvement with numerous agencies in our city and their governance. The decisions that they made affect us today because they shaped the attitudes and policies of the Portland Police Bureau and its response to changes in technology, society, and Portland’s cultural landscape. These decisions have helped us make real improvements to our police force, but some of the policies and practices that they developed half a century ago are outdated and simply do not work.
Today we stand in a similar place where our grandparents stood some fifty years ago. We are trying to design a police force of the future and are working to improve the decision-making process that will impact the lives and liberty of our children and our grandchildren. The choice we have before us is between a humane, socially-engaged, and responsive police force that respects citizens as it protects and serves them, and a militarized, high-tech, “Robocop” police force that might protect us, but also threatens some of the liberties we all enjoy.
What will the police force of the 2060s look like in Portland? That is the question we must answer. Our answers to this difficult question and the changes we make as a result will have a serious impact on the lives of our descendants. We owe it to them, to the people who will inherit Portland, and, of course, to ourselves, to make these decisions carefully and in an inclusive, democratic manner. These decisions must live up to the principles of self-government and liberty that were handed down by our Founding Fathers and defended by our grandparents–principles that will preserve a finer way of life for our grandchildren, and for their children as well.
That is why I propose a Police Visioning Committee made up of community leaders, business leaders, and retired police officers to help us answer the important questions that face the Police Bureau. This Police Visioning Committee will brainstorm ideas and methods that will help ensure a police force that respects and protects citizens and upholds the people’s civil rights, civil liberties, and the rule of law.
Some of the questions that must be answered by this committee include:
Deciding how our Police Bureau needs to change and evolve will not be an easy process because there are so many important dynamics to consider. Some police methods are time-honored, highly effective, and should not change, while other police methods and training procedures should be examined with new eyes, in hopes of updating them.
It was not easy, to develop and sustain good leadership for the Portland Police Bureau when it was established in the 1870s, and it was not easy in the 1930s when advances in technology and changes in society required that Portland leaders once again reform the Bureau’s practices. It was not easy when changes were instituted in the tumultuous 1960s, in response to all the political and social unrest and civil rights reforms that transformed our country. The changes that resulted from that formative era shape the Portland Police Bureau of today.
We cannot shirk our responsibility to overhaul the Police Bureau simply because it is not easy. Instead, we must make these decisions together with all citizens who hold a stake in the future of Portland. This is what the Police Visioning Committee needs to address, for the betterment of all Portland citizens, here and in the future.
I urge all Portlanders who genuinely care about our city to support and participate in this process. As we make the decisions and lay the groundwork to provide our descendants with a Police Bureau that is humane, diverse, effective, and committed to a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Portland, we need community involvement and engagement to make that actually happen.
Portland needs a Police Bureau that will uphold the ideals of American policing: to protect and serve, while creating and maintaining positive relationships with community members of all races, all classes and from all parts of the city. My goal is that twenty five years from today, all Portlanders will consider the Portland Police Bureau the best police force the city has ever had, and celebrate its engaged, committed, and friendly officers who genuinely care for all Portland’s people.
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!