Interview with Mingus Mapps

By David Krogh

The Southeast Examiner recently met with Mingus Mapps, candidate for City Commissioner Position 4, currently held by Chloe Eudaly. Mr. Mapps was provided a list of questions and graciously consented to respond. Questions and responses are summarized as follows and direct quotes identified. 

Mapps was not involved with Eudaly’s campaign and was, in fact, working at the time as the executive director of the Historic Parkrose Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative. 

SE: What is your history with Commissioner Eudaly? 

MM: “In October of 2019, I accepted a position with the Office of Civic Life. In that job, I helped manage the City’s Crime Prevention Program and the City’s Neighborhood Association Program.

“During my tenure with the City, I was ordered to discipline an employee because of their body language in a staff meeting. That order struck me as being a violation of labor law, so I went to Human Resources to ask for guidance. HR told me not to discipline the employee. When I informed my boss of HR’s advice, I was fired.” 

SE: Why are you now seeking that commission seat? 

MM: “I’m running for City Council because I love Portland and I am concerned about the direction our City is heading in. Homelessness is out of control. Housing costs are too high. Too often politics in City Hall are toxic and disconnected from the world Portlanders actually live in. It doesn’t have to be this way.” 

SE: How do you feel about Commissioner Eudaly’s proposed rewrite to City Code 3.96 changing the City’s authorization for neighborhood associations, business associations and neighborhood coalitions? 

MM: “I am going to call on the Council to reboot its code change process and stop its wars against neighborhoods. I feel passionately about that and will demand that the City Council immediately halt its code review process. We need to start over on this process.” 

SE: The City Club is recommending the current commission form of government for Portland be changed. What is your position on that form? 

MM: “I am a strong supporter of Charter Reform. This is one of my top priorities. I see a lot of positives in hiring a city manager and electing some City Councilors from single member districts. I believe strongly that any proposed new form of government needs to be an agreed upon solution that will go to the voters.” 

Photos courtesy of Mingus Mapps

SE: Affordable housing is a big concern right now in the City. 

MM: “I am in support of policies that prevent excessive rent hikes and recognize we need policies that work for everyone. 

In its current form, I oppose the Residential Infill Project. I have three concerns: Density is often good, but a one size fits all approach to growth is a bad fit for Portland. 

I’m concerned about displacement of low income Portlanders. I also think it’s important that neighborhoods have some influence over how their communities evolve. I support the current Comp Plan and the idea of increased density in town centers and along corridors, where we have good transportation lines.” 

SE: What do you think of density and gentrification? 

MM: “I am a proponent of smart growth, which means I support density done right. I have a vision for Portland which includes a vibrant, clean and safe downtown and business districts. 

I want Portland to have an adequate housing stock for Portlanders of all income levels. I want to keep Portland walkable, bike-able and drivable. We need good public transportation so people have the option to leave their cars at home or live a carless lifestyle. 

We need to protect green spaces and the historic character of our communities. I oppose gentrification. I define gentrification as economic development that displaces established residents. Portland has a long and troubling historic of development like that.” 

SE: Portland’s DOZA Project proposes to eliminate public design review processes for some multistory buildings along Portland Main Streets. Opinion? 

MM: “I have not formed an opinion (as yet) on proposals to eliminate design reviews for multistory buildings on Main Streets. I’m committed to learning more about this important issue. I encourage anyone who would like to share their perspective on this proposal to reach out to me through our campaign website.” 

SE: What is your take on the issue of alleviating traffic congestion and parking? 

MM: “Let’s build new and better transportation infrastructure – a green and dynamic transportation network that will work well into the 21st century.” 

SE: Both the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) have been criticized for pushing their own agendas and not being responsive to citizen input. What can be done to change this perception? 

MM: “Change that reality. In order for that to happen, the Commissioners in charge of those bureaus need to make listening and learning from community members a core element in each bureau’s mission.” 

SE: City Commissioners have long been accused of pushing the programs of their Bureaus over city wide issues. How can this situation be changed for the better? 

MM: “The ultimate fix for this problem is to move away from our commission form of government. In addition, it would help if voters elected people to City Council who are committed to the common good instead of narrow bureaucratic politics.” 

SE: How do you feel about Portland’s campaign finance thresholds? 

MM: “I support Portland’s $500 threshold on campaign donations. In fact, my campaign adheres to an even lower donation cap ($250) and we don’t take donations from corporations, PACS or unions. I call on the other candidates in this race to follow our lead and honor the $500 donation cap passed by Portland voters.” 

SE: Why do you feel you are qualified to be a Portland City Commissioner? 

MM: “I am a public servant and policy maker with a deep commitment to building a better, more equitable Portland. I received my bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Reed College and a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University. I have worked in local government, academia and the nonprofit world.” 

Mapps’ experience includes employment with: City of Portland Office of Civic Life;   Multnomah County Chair’s office; Portland Public School’s Intergovernmental Relations office; Multnomah County Human Services; Brandeis University and Bowdoin College (Assistant Professor); Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (post-doctorate research fellow); Historic Parkrose Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (nonprofit) and the United Way of the Columbia Willamette (nonprofit) 

On January 14, the Mapps campaign announced that his is the first campaign for Commission Position 4 to have qualified for small donor matching from the City’s Open and Accountable Elections Program. 

To qualify, his campaign raised over $30,000 from 450 different donors. 

For additional information see

Interview with Mingus Mapps

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