Sure, Tom Potter has uttered the words "community policing" enough to hypnotize the average chicken, but what details can he provide on his plans to reduce gang violence in North Portland? How is he planning to provide job opportunities for disadvantaged youth and to do all of this within the confines of a shrinking budget? Likewise, what do we really know about Jim Francesconi's plans for cleaning up the Willamette River? Or responding to demands for city sponsored skateparks?

In an effort to pin down the candidates on specifics, the Mercury is sponsoring a fun and informative three-part summertime series of town hall political forums called "You Promised!" Both mayoral hopefuls as well as the city council candidates (Sam Adams and Nick Fish) have agreed to participate. For each forum, each candidate has pledged to provide no fewer than five specific promises for ordinances or projects to introduce during his first year in office. (And, oh yeah, a year from now we will be checking back to see whether the elected officials made good on their campaign promises.)

The first "You Promised!" Forum is next Thursday, August 19th, and will focus on candidates' promises to bolster arts and culture in the city. It's being held at the Pacific Northwest College of Art (1241 NW Johnson, 6:30 pm).

The second forum is being hosted in Mt Tabor's amphitheatre on Thursday, September 9th, 6:30 pm, and will ask candidates to deliver another five promises--this time regarding policies for parks and the local environment. The final forum is scheduled for September 23rd at Metro Assembly of God Church (5004 NE 6th, 6:30 pm). It will focus on community and policing issues.

This November's election will dramatically alter the character of Portland's city council and local politics. It will change the immediate future of the city. We want to make certain we are electing candidates based on their ideas and what they will do--not just their personalities.

We'll see you at the candidate forums. Bring your questions!