This is a Historic Race for Portland City Council! By Fred Stewart, edited by Theresa Griffin Kennedy

 

 

 

 

Joann Hardesty and    Loretta Smith                

Hello friends! The Portland papers are abuzz with the various details of two Portland women running for City Council. Joann Hardesty and Loretta Smith happen to be those women. Yet no one seems to be talking about something I believe they should be talking about, and that is the historic significance of this race!

Why is it this race historic? Because two women of color—two black women are running for city council in a town that is primarily white and in some circles is referred to as “the whitest city in the United States.” This is an important race because for too long the issues and concerns of black folks in Portland have been ignored and disregarded by white leaders who demonstrate that the black residents in their town are just not all that important to them. Smith and Hardesty will change that!

From what I’ve seen, both women are capable of doing the job. Each woman possesses the skills and the life experience to be great leaders, and the fact is they will change the dynamic of Portland City Council and perhaps even forever. Frankly, that can only be a good thing. Portland City council has long been an ‘all white club’ and Hardesty and Smith are going to change that dynamic, as well they should!

History shows us that in Portland whenever there has been a woman on city council, there has been a positive change and impact for the entire city and right now we have a choice between two black women. I hope Portlanders’ can see exactly what I mean when I say this is a historic moment for Portland. And I’m actually surprised that the media hasn’t written more about this historic time in Portland.

I can’t help but wonder, why are the newspapers not covering that aspect of this race? Why are there no women’s groups writing about the historic significance of this moment in Portland history? I’m flummoxed by the lack of focus on that part of it, because this is history in the making.

If you are wondering who I might endorse, I’m going to tell you I will not endorse either Hardesty or Smith. Who you vote for is up to you but I strongly encourage all reading my commentary here to do the research on your own. Read up on both candidates and come to your own conclusion. Decide for yourself who you think will best do the job because they’re both capable, they’re both talented and they’re both strong women who in the end will make Portland a better place, no matter their current or future roles within the city.

After thinking about the historic importance of this race it occurred to me that Portland is moving closer to becoming a city that is actually more inclusive and progressive to all its residents and not only the white majority of citizens, and everyone should take a moment to think about this shift. It is long overdue.

The citizens of Portland should take some time to pay attention to both these qualified candidates and make a personally informed choice as to who they decide to vote for.

The public should not, in my opinion, decide their vote based on any kind of endorsement or local opinion from any print or online media in Portland. I base this on the negative history the black community has had with media in Portland overall, and the fact that Portland media routinely does not show black residents of Portland that they care about them or their issues, or concerns.

Furthermore, there is the indisputable fact that Portland media does not hire black staff writers when the city abounds with thousands of qualified black writers who would be a benefit to any newspaper, writing meaningful articles on any number of cultural, social and political topics which impact people of color. It is for this reason that I do not trust the endorsements of Portland media on which person of color they decide to endorse because invariably the person doing the endorsing is not a person of color or even familiar with issues pertaining to people of color.

In closing, I will say that we all need to appreciate this historic moment in Portland’s history because at the end of the day we’ve got two women of color who can both get the job done.

I think we’re growing up as a community regardless of any divisive influences that may still try to tear us apart. We should understand that too, that no matter how transparent this race may seem, there are divisive influences and people who regard races like this as a war and will try to cheapen it and make people lose focus of the historic reality of this race and the importance of both women to the city of Portland and its future.

I’m just so proud of Portland right now and of both of these capable and qualified women. Trust your own judgment, do your own research and decide for yourself who you think the better candidate is and then vote for that candidate!

Joann Hardesty and Loretta Smith are two women we should all be proud of and we need to remember that this race is bigger than both of them and it’s bigger than all of us. We are making history in Portland and this is actually happening in the days of Trump!

How cool is that?

 

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