PORTLAND, Ore. - Charlie Hales says so far he's knocked on 7,000 doors in his campaign to be the next mayor of Portland, doing so because he likes meeting people he wants to serve and he learns a great deal about what's on their minds.
"I think, especially for a local office, for mayor or a member of the City Council, it's really important to have that personal connection," he told KATU's Steve Dunn during "Your Voice, Your Vote" Sunday.
Hales, a former city commissioner who quit in 2002 before his term was up to pursue opportunities in the private sector, is competing with 17 other candidates, including well-known contenders businesswoman Eileen Brady and state Rep. Jefferson Smith. Current Portland Mayor Sam Adams said last summer he won't run for re-election.
During a previous interview last May, Hales told KATU News that this time he'll serve out the whole term if he's elected mayor. He said he left public office as a commissioner because there were opportunities to help other cities build their own light rail and street car systems and that he had to help put his kids through college.
After taking on and succeeding at those opportunities and responsibilities he says he's ready to jump back into public service even though it was not his intention to do so.
"I was very proud of what I accomplished," he said Sunday. "But I love this city; and leadership is personal, and I believe my combination of private-sector experience and understanding of how to get things done in our peculiar city government is exactly what's needed now."
While Hales is known for his enthusiasm for light rail and street car projects, he says he understands the economic realities facing the city and now is not the time to expand the system, but to maintain it. He says the priority should be to ensure TriMet has the money to provide good service now.
To watch the entire interview with Hales, please click on the "Play Video" button above.