Mayoral musings

Now that Ted Wheeler has thrown his hat into the ring, Portland has a bona fide mayoral race on its hands.

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A few thoughts on the current lineup:

1.  The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the year of the outsider, as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump capture leads in the polls and the headlines.

In Portland, Wheeler vs. Hales is bucking the outlier trend. Neither of the two men is known for shaking things up, and their policy — and physical — differences can be difficult to parse.

“I’m not sure I can really tell them apart,” one of Portland’s civic leaders confided in me the other day. “They even look alike.”

2. Effective leadership requires two things: vision and the ability to implement.

Wheeler’s innovative finance proposals arguably give him the edge over Hales, whose street fee debacle (and Pembina reversal) will dog him to the end of days.

On the other hand, Wheeler made the decision to run for mayor only after deciding his first choice — the governor’s mansion — was out of reach. Neither candidate oozes charisma, and the jury is out on their ability to craft bold solutions to the city’s most pressing challenges, from homelessness and infrastructure decline to wage and job growth.

3. Private sector executives are wont to say government should be run like a business: Cut costs. Improve efficiency. But public sector leadership requires attention to the civic good, which does not always produce a financial return.

With these qualifications in mind — here are few people I’d like to see campaigning for Portland’s highest office. At the very least, the following contenders would inject a shot of adrenaline into the mayoral lineup.

° Monica Enand, CEO, Zapproved: Part of the great urban migration, Enand recently relocated her legal software company from Hillsboro to the Pearl District, where she employees about 70 people, double the company’s 2014 head count. Pragmatic, forward thinking and charismatic.

° Rukaiyah Adams, CIO, Meyer Memorial Trust: Until last year, Adams managed over $7 billion as the head of capital markets at the Standard. Now she oversees the trust’s $800 million corpus, with a focus on economic empowerment for the disenfranchised. A quietly powerful investment manager who exemplifies principles of social entrepreneurship driving the new economy.

° Sam Blackman, CEO, Elemental Technologies.  He just sold his company to Amazon for a reported half a billion dollars. He bikes to work. He’s civic-minded. Enough said.