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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Press Release: Racism in Journalism Portland Mercury

November 1st, Portland Mercury recently published a factually weak article by Doug Brown, accusing Commissioner Loretta Smith of illegally “Raking in cash for a city council run.” They accuse Smith of improperly fundraising for her future political campaign. The article was not properly researched and is another example of careless racist journalism in Portland Oregon. This attack on Loretta Smith is another way white-owned and operated Portland newspapers can play fast and loose with the truth whenever a black leader is involved or has a position of power.

The Mercury doesn’t appear committed to accuracy in journalism if it concerns black people in Portland, even respected black leaders like Loretta Smith. For a Newspaper that appears to support The Portland Resistance, shouldn’t the Mercury’s young white reporters also check their facts? The City Charter amended their rules to make it legal to fundraise while also working another position and if they had done their homework, the Mercury would know that. Or maybe they knew already but just didn’t care.

This form of racial bias in journalism proves the point many critics of white liberal media have; that wealthy and influential white media do not genuinely care about African Americans in general, black Portlanders specifically and black leaders in particular. The Mercury also doesn’t seem to care about the role of black leadership or in how they are unjustly smeared in print.

This article by the Mercury is a humiliating demonstration regarding exactly how black leaders in Portland are held to a different standard. Would The Mercury have written such an accusatory and suggestive article about a white candidate running for office? It is unlikely.

Loretta Smith has shared information with me regarding the charter rule that was amended the first of January 2017 that allows her the leeway to do what she’s done.

I challenge the Portland Mercury to admit their factual error and their racism in how they threw Loretta Smith under the bus.

I challenge The Portland Mercury to APOLOGIZE to Commissioner Smith and all the black residents of Portland for their careless article. I challenge the Mercury to stop hiring only white staff writers and to practice what they preach about truly recognizing and promoting racial diversity and most importantly racial equity and equality for the black residents of Portland.

2017 needs to be the year Portland media makes some big changes if they expect to b taken seriously. This process begins when they stop excluding people of color from leadership roles or in political debates as happened last year. This process begins by not attacking black leaders as easy targets and smearing their names in print simply because they can.

Other national newspapers and social justice organizations are watching Portland. There are other individuals and entities in this nation who are watching “The Whitest City” in the country, including some well-known journalists and even The Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Portland Mercury, Willamette Week, and the Oregonian newspapers must learn to adapt to a changing political climate due to racial discrimination that continues to infect this country, and to the greater expectations that accompany that shift. These newspapers must stop promoting shoddy yellow journalism and the blatant racism that goes with that.

They need to hire more black staff writers, and journalists and focus on issues and black concerns. They need to stop merely talking the talk of diversity and inclusion. They need to start walking the walk and that means action, and doing.

 

Mulnomah County Charter
https://multco.us/file/55743/download

 

Portland Mercury Article on Loretta Smith
http://www.portlandmercury.com/news/2017/11/01/19436141/loretta-smith-is-raking-in-cash-for-a-city-council-run

 

Facebook Post to Fred Stewart from Loretta Smith

Loretta Smith Fred, I want to first say I am following the Multnomah County Charter rules.

Jules Bailey did the same thing last year when he ran for Mayor and the Portland Mercury did not do write an inflated story on his legality. I just want to be treated fairly by you and the press.

Secondly, I do not want a compliment from you every time you see me about my beauty or attractiveness for the rest of my life. That is not necessary.

You have have an important voice that is needed and should be heard on housing. Insulting my integrity and repeating misinformation will only distract you and others from your real gift and expertise on housing issues that must be shared during this crisis.

Many folks are not aware that there are new rules that former Commissioners did not have. Below are the new rules effective January 1, 2017.
All the papers have this too. They chose to give their story a different slant and focus. Sir, I believe you owe me an apology.

Peace and blessings to you.

4.20. Terms Of Office; Successive Terms; Running For Office In Midterm.

(3) Effective January 1, 2017, Commissioners of Multnomah County may run for the Office of Chair of Multnomah County mid-term without resigning their current elected office. No elected official of Multnomah County may run for another elective office in midterm without resigning first. Filing for another office in midterm shall be the same as a resignation, effective as of date of filing. “Midterm” does not include the final year of an elected official’s term. Filing for another office in the last year of an elective term shall not constitute a resignation.
[Amendment (ballot measure 26-76) adopted by people Nov. 3, 1998; amendment (ballot measure 26-78) adopted by people May 16, 2006; amendment (ballot measure 26-182) adopted by people Nov. 8, 2016]