PORTLAND, Ore. – Jefferson Smith says the main goal for a mayor should be to ensure a city's government works well and by doing so will help the citizens who live within its borders prosper.
Smith, a current state representative, says he's the person who can do that for the city of Portland. He and about 20 others are vying for the city's top political position after current mayor, Sam Adams, decided not to run for a second term.
Smith told KATU's Steve Dunn during Sunday's broadcast of "Your Voice, Your Vote" that a city run well will help resolve the many concerns he hears about from voters. Those concerns include lack of jobs, equity, unwise use of money and the shortcomings of the education system.
"I think the thing that ties it together is making government work better – having a commitment to the public interest to sort of the broader self-interest, a commitment to good government and a commitment to basic fairness," he said.
Smith says he has two ways he wants to pursue if elected mayor to make government work better.
The first is to cut middle management within city government and reprioritize money spent for frontline services. The second is to make government more accessible to its citizens.
Along with that second idea, Smith proposes setting up a three-digit telephone number, much like a 911 system, that will help citizens get the services they need in an efficient manner.
He says it won't be just "a transfer service, but like a good 911 operator, something that can resolve some problems immediately and get other problems solved more quickly."
Smith has an impressive resume and is also a native Portlander. After graduating from Grant High School, he attended the University of Oregon then went to Harvard where he got a law degree. He also founded the Bus Project and is currently representing House District 47, which encompasses east Portland.
Watch the full interview by clicking on the "Play Video" button above.
Last week on "Your Voice, Your Vote," Dunn interviewed mayoral candidate and former city commissioner, Charlie Hales. Watch it here. Next week he plans to interview New Seasons co-founder Eileen Brady.