So far, the election season has been simmering over a low flame. But there is one campaign beyond the margins of the voters' pamphlets that's heating up—Paul van Orden is asking you to write him in as a candidate for Multnomah County sheriff. And you should!
The current sheriff, Bernie Giusto, is a disaster and a disappointment, if not—as van Orden explains in his campaign info, and on his website, newsheriffpdx.com—"a liability." For example, while the county had been releasing repeat criminals because it allegedly cannot afford jail space, the sheriff was generously dishing out overtime pay to his deputies. There are also troubling questions about Giusto and his close connections to Neil Goldschmidt, for whom Giusto served as a bodyguard before launching his own political career. In a state senate hearing last year, Giusto admitted he knew about Goldschmidt's statutory rape before the papers broke the story, yet he never came forward—not the most convincing credentials for an official who is expected to uphold the law.
But beyond the reasons not to vote for Giusto, there are compelling reasons to vote for his write-in challenger. I first met van Orden almost five years ago, while working on a story about the city's noise ordinance. He is the city's noise abatement officer. At the time, the Mercury was railing against the noise ordinance—we worried it could be inappropriately used to shut down clubs and music venues.
Prepared to blast the noise abatement officer, van Orden immediately disarmed me. He was calm and rational and fair. He explained that he had been working tirelessly with the (now defunct) punk club EJ's to mediate noise complaints from neighbors. As opposed to simply fining them or shutting them down, van Orden showed the club owners how to dampen the sounds and work with neighbors; over several months, he worked repeatedly with them to keep them open and in business.
During that interview, his sense of fairness came through clearly. He was smart and considerate. He was a cyclist and skateboarder and, when he was younger, a punk rocker.
He was, as corny as it sounds, a true model of what a City of Portland employee should be—a problem solver, someone with a vision and a judicial sense of fairness for all sides. Those skills will serve him well as the new county sheriff! WRITE IN PAUL VAN ORDEN for sheriff.