May 15 Election Guide
So far, we’ve been pushing for change in this election—but in this particular race, we’re going with the incumbent. City Commissioner Nick Fish has been around a while, but with a solid record on the issues we care about and an open and earnest demeanor, he’s worth hanging on to. He’s smart on housing, great on the environment, and spends time listening to his constituents.
First and foremost, Fish is an advocate for affordable housing. During his 10-year tenure on city council, Fish has created the housing bureau, which has multiple projects that prioritize the homeless, the elderly, and minority populations most hurt by gentrification. He recently helped Commissioner Chloe Eudaly champion a renter relocation policy that requires landlords to compensate tenants following no-cause evictions and exorbitant rent increases.
Fish is also getting Portland prepared for a massive problem that’s too-rarely addressed: The looming Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake. (Fish has pushed to build a secure water pipe under the Willamette that will help guarantee that Portland’s west side will be able to access uncontaminated water when disaster strikes.) Fish has even turned his work on public utilities into a progressive source of green energy with a project he calls “Poop to Power”: Under his direction, Bureau of Environmental Services employees have been capturing methane released from Portland’s waste treatment facilities and turning it into natural gas, which then fuels the bureau’s vehicles—and will generate $10 million worth of energy per year for Portland General Electric. That’s the kind of clever, innovative work that will help Portland be a leader in the fight against climate change.
Thanks to his engagement, transparency, and clever policies, Fish is a convincing candidate even to anti-establishment folks. Despite his role as an incumbent in an election cycle where younger voters are eager to overhaul the status quo, we’ve seen Fish easily win over crowds at lefty campaign events.
And he has great plans for the future: Fish is a big advocate for Portland’s plan to reduce car-related deaths to zero by 2035, and he advocates for better bike facilities like making permanent the now-seasonal “Better Naito” program, which turns a car lane on Naito Parkway into a bike and pedestrian lane. His voting record is strong on housing (he’s not a fan of letting developers only build tons of luxury housing for the rich) and he understands how to create neighborhoods people want to live in.
“We’re not trying to destroy the character of any neighborhood. We’re trying to provide more choices of where they could live,” Fish told us. “At the end of the day, regardless of your income, you should be able to choose where you live in the city.”
Fish was joined on the campaign trail by a pair of candidates we’d still like to see in leadership positions: Philip J. Wolfe, a strong advocate for police reform and the disabled and LGBTQ communities, wants to push the city towards accessibility and equity with some excellent ideas, like making TriMet run 24 hours a day. City council would do well to pay attention to Wolfe.
Meanwhile, candidate Julia DeGraw’s platform is at the intersection of social equity and environmentalism. She’s called for integrated work on transportation infrastructure and affordable housing policies that would avoid displacing working-class families when, say, a new MAX line goes in. With a strong background on environmental issues—DeGraw helped halt Nestlé’s plan to build a water-bottling plant in the Columbia River Gorge—we’d like to see her in a statewide office to address similar issues across all of Oregon.