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City Council candidates Novick, Eudaly cross swords over values

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JAIME VALDEZ - Challenger Chloe Eudaly clashed with Commissioner Steve Novick at the Portland Tribune editorial board meeting last Thursday.Charges and countercharges flew between Commissioner Steve Novick and challenger Chloe Eudaly during a joint Portland Tribune editorial board interview last Thursday.

Issues where the two candidates for the City Council tangled ranged from rent control to the extent of the preferable cleanup of the Portland Harbor Superfund site. Eudaly, a small business owner running as the “true progressive” in the race, accused Novick of selling out to developers and harbor polluters who have donated to his re-election campaign.

“I’m disappointed by Steve’s votes on labor and environmental issues, and his lack of interest in affordable housing,” Eudaly said.

Novick insisted his progressive credentials are intact and responded that Eudaly is cherry-picking her issues from hundreds of votes he has cast during his first term on the council.

“I’m proud of my record,” Novick said.

Novick was forced into a Nov. 8 runoff election when he was held below half the vote in a crowded primary race, at just 43 percent. Eudaly qualified for the ballot by coming in second with 15 percent of the vote, despite being outspent by both Novick and architect Stuart Emmons, who finished in third place.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JAIME VALDEZ - Steve NovickIncreasing housing costs drove much of the back and forth between the candidates, with Eudaly calling on the council to immediately freeze rents and ban no-cause evictions, despite a statewide ban on rent control previously enacted by the Oregon Legislature. She argued the council has the power under the housing emergency it declared last year, even though the City Attorney’s Office has advised that can only be done if a significant share of the city’s housing stock was destroyed by a natural or manmade disaster.

“The City Council is afraid of being sued while renters are losing their homes,” Eudaly said.

Novick argued that most economists say rent control has unintended consequences, including a decline in the production of new rental housing. He wants the Legislature to repeal the ban on rent control so the council can consider what kind, if any, it wants to impose.

“I’m not saying there isn’t some kind of rent control that I can support, but we need to have a much bigger discussion about it,” Novick said.

Eudaly also accused Novick of ignoring the will of most Portlanders by supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed $746 million cleanup plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund site. She said local residents, environmentalists and tribal members submitted more than 5,000 comments to the EPA calling for a more extensive cleanup plan. The EPA is hoping to finalize its plan by the end of the year.

“What makes you think you know more than them?” Eudaly asked Novick.

Novick replied that he does not believe the EPA is soft on the environment and questioned whether spending more money would achieve significantly better results. He also noted the city of Portland is potentially responsible for paying a share of the cleanup costs, meaning residents could face higher utility bills or reduced services if the final price tag is too high.

“There are 600,000 people in Portland, so 5,000 comments is not representative of all of them,” Novick said, who previously worked as a lawyer for the EPA.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JAIME VALDEZ - Chloe EudalyEudaly even clashed with Novick on issues where they agreed.

For example, both of them support rezoning some or all of the city’s single-family neighborhoods to allow more so-called missing middle housing, including duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, small apartments and accessory dwelling units. Novick said increasing the supply for such housing should help temper cost increases. Eudaly said it would do little to help the low-income and homeless residents most hurt by rent increases.

“It’s not a solution,” Eudaly said.

Eudaly also supports Novick’s proposal to increase the city business tax on publicly traded corporations that pay their CEOs more than 100 times the average salary of their employees. Novick says the tax increase would raise $2.5 million a year for homeless services and discourage such high payments. Eudaly says Novick has only proposed it to boost his re-election chances, however. The council will consider it on Oct. 5.

During the interview, Eudaly repeatedly stressed that she is the kind of outsider needed on the council — a younger female renter who is living on a limited income from her small bookstore business on the east side.

“The entire council lives on the west side and is isolated from the problems that 150,000 low-income Portlanders face,” Eudaly said.

Novick said that he has supported the council’s efforts to increase funding for affordable housing and homeless services, and has learned how to be effective after what he admitted was a frustrating first year in office when he alienated many people.

“I’ve learned how to get things done,” said Novick, pointing to his passage of the temporary 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax at the May 2016 primary election with the support of a coalition of business, labor, community and transportation safety organizations he put together.

Polling, endorsements and money

Although no polls have been released in the race, Steve Novick should win it because of his greater name familiarity, says Jim Moore, director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy and Innovation. This is especially true because 2016 is a presidential election year, where a large number of voters who do not otherwise follow politics very closely can be expected to mail in their ballots.

The interview took place the same day Novick’s campaign announced he had been endorsed by Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler and every member of the council, except Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who remained neutral.

During the interview, Chloe Eudaly repeatedly praised Fritz as the most ethical member of the council, noting she had never accepted corporate contributions.

Although she is endorsed by former Mayor Tom Potter and former City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade, most of the backers listed on her website are community activists like architect and homeless advocate Mark Lakeman.

With about seven weeks to go before the runoff election, Novick is far ahead on fundraising, in part because he did not accept Eudaly’s challenge to reject contributions from corporate interests that do business with the city.

Novick also has received contributions from labor organizations and people who have no involvement with the city, however. He has raised more than $326,000 so far this year and currently has almost $103,000 in the bank.

In contrast, Eudaly, who has voluntarily limited corporate contributions, has raised under $56,000 this year and has less than $10,000 in the bank.