Portland Press Herald: We endorse Pious Ali for at-large seat on City Council

Nine heads are better than one. That’s why in addition to a mayor, Portland elects the eight members of its City Council so every voice is heard. In this year’s race for an at-large seat on the City Council, we support Pious Ali.

Ali, who is a member of the Board of Education, brings the kind of experience in city government you like to see in a new councilor, and much more. As a renter, an immigrant, a person of color and a Muslim, Ali represents communities within the city that need to be heard.

It’s not just a matter of bringing those perspectives to City Hall. We are impressed with the desire and ability Ali has shown so far in his public life to bring government to the people and engage the public in ways that would be an exciting addition to the council. That’s why we support his candidacy.

As a candidate, Ali has been tireless, knocking on doors and making himself known throughout the city.

On the school board, Ali has begun a process of holding periodic meetings at remote locations on Saturdays, when working people can attend. As an involved citizen, Ali organized an effort last year to extend the deadline for an online comprehensive plan survey that few people had even known about, and was part of the effort on social media to promote participation.

Communicating with the public is a chronic problem for city government. The council holds public hearings, but by the time citizens line up to speak, the issue has already been winnowed down to a single, often unpalatable choice.

It’s important to get people involved earlier in the process so that their input is more meaningful.

Whether it’s through different kinds of meetings or experimenting with new communications technology, Ali displays the kind of leadership the city needs.

Despite Ali’s good qualities, this will not be an easy choice for voters because of the strengths of his opponents, especially incumbent Jon Hinck.

Hinck has been a strong progressive voice on the council, crafting the compromise minimum-wage ordinance that passed the council last year, and leading the effort to put solar power collectors on the city’s landfill.

Hinck has made tough, principled votes against a school budget that increased taxes in 2014 and against a city budget that moved public health services out of the India Street clinic.

We appreciate Hinck’s service but think that Ali’s background and experience would bring Portland City Hall more of what it needs.

We enthusiastically endorse Pious Ali for the City Council.

Read more here.