Andrew’s Priorities

Compassion and Perspective

Key Priorities

Small businesses are often referenced as the backbone of America. In many ways I agree with that sentiment. So much of a community’s identity is often associated with the makeup of their locally-owned businesses. Portland is a beacon for other cities who aspire to have such a vibrant and nationally recognized city filled with locally-owned and operated shops supported by year-round residents.

We need a voice on Portland City Council that understands what it feels like to spend your day running a small business here in Portland. We need a voice that knows the pain and struggle of trying to do what’s right for your employees in the face of a pandemic — someone who creates jobs that pay a living wage, provides paid sick days and fights for what is right even when it’s hard.

The Portland City Council has been pro-development for quite some time, but that’s not the answer. We need a council that is pro local business. Pro sustainable business. Pro equitable business opportunity for micro businesses and minority entrepreneurs who have additional barriers to entry in the market. Economic development of today and tomorrow is the triple bottom line — social, environmental and financial impact promoting a local economy that strengthens all of Portland’s neighborhoods and enhances the quality of life for everyone, not just a small few. We need accessible programming that will help usher in a new generation of diverse small business owners that will lift our city up.

Local governments have an important role in economic development. Our council should promote economic development strategies that attract and build a stable sustainable local economy, not development for the sake of development. What good is our city if it’s completely developed and none of us can live, work or open a shop here?

For a while Portland has embraced low road economic development policies, competing against other cities like ours to see who can offer the greatest subsidy and the most favorable development terms for large out of state developers. There is little to no investment in our local economy when this happens, and we are feeling this more every day.

We need a City Council with the perspective of folks who do the work every day and interact with our local economy. Our local economic development should be focused on creating high quality jobs that pay family supporting wages. We need to raise take home pay for low and middle income families and recognize how that directly benefits our local economy, as these families purchase goods and services from local businesses.

We need local policies that promote job-quality requirements, wage standards and promote small and locally owned business innovation and creation.

COVID19 is threatening a mass extinction of the small businesses that make up our local economy. We will get through this together, but there have already been closures that hit home for all of us. These are our friends and neighbors right here in District 4, and across the city. When the day comes where COVID is in the rear view mirror, we need a City Government that has done the planning so we can hit the ground running, encouraging entrepreneurship, innovation and an economy even more robust that before. Let’s make a local economy that works for all of us, not just a few.

One of the first things I notice in a local government is whether or not the the people who are responsible for governing represent a true cross section of the community. More often than not the answer is no and this can be discouraging for those of us who hold minority identities. Representation matters.

As a gay person in Portland, I have experienced my fair share of exclusion and hate. The only way I know how to confront that is through the resilience that we in the LGBTQ+ community learn to manifest throughout our lives. My husband and I are proud to call Portland our home and to own a small business here. It is important for our LGBTQ+ community to be represented in city government and to add our energy and voices to solve the deep and complex problems facing our growing city in these challenging times. We fly our pride flag in front of our shop every single day as a reminder to ourselves that we can imagine a home that is inclusive, kind and safe for folx like us. We’ve been cheered on and we’ve been threatened with violence for being who we are. As progressive as Portland is, hate can grow if we as a community allow it.

And it does not stop there. Women, indigenous people, black, brown and latinx people as well as impoverished residents need to have a strong voice and presence on our City Council and the offices and corridors of City Hall. So I commit my candidacy to inclusion and diversity, excluding no one. I truly believe that in our unique and beautiful city, there can and should be room at the table for everyone.

Most everyone I know who lives in Portland takes pride in our New England sea coast character and heritage. This city surrounded by water and islands is a daily reminder and a living testament to our connection to the sea coast and with it comes the urgency of our stewardship and the stark reminders that we have failed to keep faith with our ecological heritage. City governments are in the unique position of front line encountering with the environmental imperatives facing the world — they are often times the first responders to climate change. Cities pick up the garbage, move the snow, sand the roads, regulate the harbors and coastal activities, register cars, monitor carbon emissions, operate medical facilities, sports arenas, pen spaces and parks, and walking, hiking and biking trails to name an obvious few. How we do these are the things, large and small, that will determine what happens to this planet and what kind of Portland we leave to future generations.

There is no idea too small when it comes to combating climate change.

Income inequality in the United States has reached the point of a great abyss. The idea that we should be able to walk from the beauty and security of our Back Cove neighborhoods to Marginal Way or Preble Street downtown and find destitute people begging for food, clothing and a place to stay for even one night is morally reprehensible, unsustainable and destabilizing. It just makes sense. If any of us as mothers or fathers were to choose one or two of our children to be well fed, clothed, educated, cared for and nurtured and two others to eat sparingly, wear rags, freeze in the cold and go without medical care, Child Protective Services would step in, as they should.

We have to look at the economic and social fabric of our city as a family would. We would be no less prosperous or comfortable if we were to make it a priority to care for those among us who cannot provide for themselves and build a local economy that includes everyone. Homelessness in Portland is a growing scar on our heritage. City government has the authority and the public policy tools at its disposal to address and solve the problems of economic and income inequality.

Never has there been a time when more of our citizens were aware of the disordered and evil interconnections between race, incarceration, poverty, addiction and over-criminalization.

Juvenile justice policies and practices in Portland are particularly irrational and destructive. Children should not be prosecuted and jailed as adults. Portland has unfortunately adopted the policies that have created the national school to prison pipeline. Harsh and unproductive school discipline utilizing suspensions and expulsions as the first remedy, overwhelmingly concentrated on poor children and children of color have separated our young people from their schools and families and placed them in poorly run, outdated and destructive juvenile detention centers. These essentially guarantee the progression toward a lifetime of prison sentences. Alternative school discipline and case disposition systems and practices like Restorative Justice programs and counseling are leading the way to ending the school to prison pipeline and Portland and Maine should be leading the way.

The movement in Minneapolis and around the country to defund police is a good and critical start. Wrongful policing in America does not stop in the streets. It is an inextricable byproduct of systemic racism and distorted criminal justice policies.

Defunding as we are understanding the term today means cutting police budgets and equitably redirecting the resources to social and community needs such as schools, treatment centers, counseling, food, healthcare, day care, after school programs, public defense, restorative justice programs and more. We should also look to defund and reallocate other justice related budgets such as for prosecutors and prisons and jails. We need to totally rethink and rebuild our justice systems and policies starting at the local level, closest to our communities, to give us a real opportunity to see how damaging criminal justice and policing practices can be if left unchecked and also give us the will to build a better and more just system.

HOW DO YOU PLAN TO VOTE ON PORTLAND’S SIX REFERENDA?

I believe the referendum is a powerful tool that we should use when we must. The Peoples Vote should be our fail safe. In recent years we have seen a significant increase in the use of the referendum process. It seems like we should now expect to vote on one (or this year six) every November. I believe the overuse of the referendum is chipping away at the strength of the process and has now opened the door for people who wish to restrict access to the referendum process.

We must acknowledge that referenda such as the six we are voting on in Portland this November are a result of our Elected Officials failing to reach consensus with the communities they represent. They are a reaction from people who are in need of effective public policy and are not being heard. This years referenda are important issues that ideologically I agree with 100%. However, I am concerned by the intentions and effectiveness of some of these.

In the spirit of full transparency, here’s how I am planning to vote on these issues. You may not agree with me, and that’s okay. But I think it is important that Candidates are upfront and transparent with their potential constituents.

HOW AM I VOTING?
YES
WHY AM I VOTING THIS WAY?
I do this every day with my employees at Little Woodfords and live my values. I am proof that you can successfully own and operate a small business while paying your employees a livable wage, offering health insurance and paid sick time. Portland can and should be the national leader in high road economic development policies that promote a healthy local economy while lifting everyone up with it.
HOW AM I VOTING?
YES
WHY AM I VOTING THIS WAY?
Yes. And I am glad our City Council voted to ban this. It’s racist and impedes our privacy and freedoms.
HOW AM I VOTING?
YES
WHY AM I VOTING THIS WAY?
Another difficult one, but from many Engineers and Developers that I spoke with, the use and implementation of Solar on new municipal buildings is very cost positive. We build municipal buildings to last 150 years, so it makes sense that at this point in time we need to be requiring they are at minimum LEED Silver certified.

The hesitation is specifically with renovations of municipal buildings, which is understandable. Some buildings like King Middle school are well suited to receive an upgrade for Solar, while others might not be.

Overall, I believe the cities of our future must be green.

The new Bayside Anchor building by Avesta is a good example of a new building that is passive affordable housing.

HOW AM I VOTING?
NO
WHY AM I VOTING THIS WAY?
This one is so challenging because I do believe in rent control, however, not in the way we see it in this particular referendum. There is a lot of research showing that rent control appears to help affordability in the short run for current tenants, but in the long-run it can decrease affordability, exacerbate gentrification, and will create negative externalities on the surrounding neighborhood. These results highlight that forcing landlords to provide insurance to tenants against rent increases can ultimately be counterproductive.*

Currently, Portland and South Portland are being touted as being among the ‘hottest” real estate markets in the country — and that comes with a steep social price tag. Moderate as well as low wage individuals and families are being squeezed out of the rental markets as well as from the prospects of home ownership. A new look at a master plan that makes room for people at all ends of the economic strata has to be an immediate priority.

First, affordable housing needs to be thought of in the lens of living wages. Studies have shown that renters working 40 hours a week and earning minimum wage can afford a typical two-bedroom apartment (i.e., not be cost-burdened) in exactly ZERO counties nationwide. We need to raise Portland’s minimum wage to $15/hour!

Additionally, I believe affordable housing access requires a multi-pronged approach.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Couple city tax credits and payments with state and federal housing programs, focusing specifically on reputable local developers, wherever possible. This includes using Brownfield sites for development to maximize public benefits.
  • Increase the quantity and affordability of “affordable units” required by inclusionary zoning. This includes looking at what data we use to determine the median incomes, excluding the more affluent communities outside of Portland.
  • We need to continue changing zoning laws to allow for more high-density projects at the council level. Inclusionary zoning is key!
  • To promote Aging in Place for out older neighbors, let’s create a City homestead exemption for folks who have lived in their home for 10+ years at a time to alleviate the increase in property taxes to folks on fixed incomes. They have invested in our communities for decades and we should invest in them as they age.

Affordable housing is also a transportation issue. We have a city that is still very focused on cars over public transit. We need to focus on increasing the availability of safe, reliable and expansive public transit and rethink our building laws that require a minimum number of parking spots in high density neighborhoods to allow for more housing units to be built in any given project.

We need think of the above in the context of rentals AND home ownership, as ownership is a big part of the American Dream, and plays a key part in upward mobility for many of us.

Here’s an alternative idea! What if the City of Portland offered a property tax break as incentive to not increase rent above a certain percentage per year? If most Landlords took advantage of this, the City would lose tax revenue; however, tenants would have lesser rent and the local economy would get a significant boost, therefore benefitting the City in the long run. If Landlords chose to ignore that option and increased the rent, then the City gets an increase in tax revenue. It’s a win-win.

Affordable housing will play a huge part in helping us ensure Portland remains a community we can all be a part of.

*https://www.brookings.edu/research/what-does-economic-evidence-tell-us-about-the-effects-of-rent-control/

HOW AM I VOTING?
YES
WHY AM I VOTING THIS WAY?
The primary argument I hear opposing this one is “people in Portland are squeezing by every month by renting out parts of their house for short term rentals. How could you take that from them?” So the big problem with this is that we are okay with people squeezing by every month by renting out their homes — I’m not buying it. If that’s the reality, we need to fix it because it is not sustainable or fair to anyone who is low or moderate, or on a fixed income (which happens to be a large percentage of our city).

Also, I received an email from AirBnb advocating against this and it felt gross.

Here’s an alternative idea! What if the City of Portland made Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) more accessible?An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a second dwelling unit created on a lot with a house, attached house or manufactured home. The second unit is created auxiliary to, and is smaller than, the main dwelling. ADUs can be created in a variety of ways, including conversion of a portion of an existing house, addition to an existing house, conversion of an existing garage or the construction of an entirely new building.

Currently, it is very difficult to build an ADU on your property in Portland. If we want to create more housing density in our city to accommodate a diverse population, we need to create diverse types of housing.

HOW AM I VOTING?
YES
WHY AM I VOTING THIS WAY?
After discussing this at length with locally owned Maine businesses in the cannabis industry, I’d vote yes. While I don’t believe there is truly a free market, I think the cap will end up hurting small businesses in the long run and will encourage out of state businesses to use loopholes that will delegitimize our public policy.