Michael Mitarnowski

This time around, Amanda Fritz beat her own record by three days, collecting over 1,000 signatures and contributions from supporters in hopes of qualifying for $150,000 in public campaign financing, in just two months and 18 days.

And this time around, Fritz hardly needs an introduction: She's the woman from SW Portland who ran against Dan Saltzman two years ago, on her background as a neighborhood activist and active volunteer. She was the first to successfully qualify for public campaign funds last election, though she ultimately lost to Saltzman in the primary despite a glowing endorsement from this paper. We gushed: "She's got a passion for the city's inner workings, after a seven-year stint on the Planning Commission and 20 years of neighborhood activism. Combined with her outsider status, Fritz's insight into things like land-use planning and neighborhoods' needs will shake up the city council."

But this time around, Fritz is planning a different campaign. The city auditor is currently checking the validity of her contributor forms—if she turned in at least 1,000 qualified ones, she could obtain the public funds in the next few weeks. She'll be using the cash to "convey what's in her heart" to voters.

Having done this once before, she's "more aware of the challenge," and now knows about things like media buys (AKA targeted political advertising). She's also realized that her vision for Portland needs to be conveyed in broader strokes on the campaign trail, as opposed to detailing the "hundreds" of nitty-gritty ideas she's collected during her years of service.

"The value is the important thing," she explained over coffee on January 4. "Things that I specifically want to do aren't particularly exciting," like putting in sidewalks on the routes kids take to school. (She studied incumbents Saltzman and Erik Sten during the 2006 campaign, and notes that the seasoned campaigners usually answered questions with a reiteration of their core agenda).

What's her broader agenda? Basic services in all neighborhoods, equity for residents regardless of who they are or where they live, and scrutinizing city business to make sure the council is focused on its core functions. Also, she notes, there's been enough vision on things like increasing citizen involvement. What Portland needs, she says, is "more action."

Her style of action will be unique, though. "Sometimes you're a leader and sometimes you're part of the group," she explains. In other words, if elected city commissioner this time around (if not, she says she won't run again) you'll be just as likely to find her addressing a crowd as you will find her sitting in the middle of it. "I will show up," she says. "To sit in the crowd and listen."