PORTLAND, Ore. – Voters got to see candidates for City Council, incumbent Amanda Fritz and her challenger state Rep. Mary Nolan, appear simultaneously on "Your Voice, Your Vote" Sunday in a kind of "mini-debate."
Nolan touted both her legislative and managerial experience as the reason Portlanders should elect her to the City Council.
"That's the combination of skill that I bring that would add value to the City Council that's not there now," she said.
Fritz said she's proven she's been effective on the council and has gotten citizens involved in the process.
"I'm an independent voice, and yet I have proven that I can get along with the four diverse people who are on the City Council," she said.
The two candidates debated the two contentious issues the City Council has faced in recent weeks – the order to reinstate fired Portland Police Bureau Officer Ronald Frashour and the council's vote to add fluoride to the city's drinking water.
City Commissioners voted unanimously last week to appeal the rulings of an arbitrator and the state Employment Relations Boards that ordered the city to give Frashour his job back after the fatal shooting of an unarmed Aaron Campbell in January 2010 that resulted in Frashour’s dismissal from the Portland Police Bureau.
Fritz said there is a question in the interpretation of the law that needs to be resolved and the city owes "it to Aaron Campbell's family to ask the appeals court to take another look at the arbitrator's ruling."
Nolan, while not explicitly answering whether she would have voted for appeal if she had been on the council, said she feared pressing the issue would "further divide the community and not prevail at the (state) Court of Appeals."
Both Nolan and Fritz agreed that adding fluoride to the city's water makes sense and will provide a health benefit to Portlanders. But both questioned how the process played out.
Fritz was in England for a family member's wedding when the issue came to a head in Portland.
"From England, I was calling and asking, could we - I felt we should refer it to the vote in the first place ... I couldn't get another member – not even one other member of the council was willing to do the referral from the council, so I didn't make that motion at council," she said.
"I think the council should make the decision," said Nolan. "But I think council should make it in a way that invites real participation – not just in a yes or no – but in how we shape the implementation of the proposal, and I didn't see that happening."
The council ultimately voted to add fluoride to the water but a group of concerned citizens is working to refer the decision to voters and say they've collected enough signatures to do so. But the authentication of those signatures still needs to be verified.
To watch the full "mini-debate" between the two candidates, click on the above "Play Video" button above.