Occupy Portland is finally be getting its first political candidate.
Cameron Whitten, a 20-year-old who’s been a fixture of the local movement, emailed this morning to say he “has entered his name into the race for Mayor of Portland” and has scheduled a news conference for tomorrow morning to talk about his candidacy. No, the city auditor’s office still doesn’t list him—not yet, at least—as an official candidate, but Whitten’s also already got a live campaign website up where he explains why he wants in.
“Portland and Oregon has a history of economic and racial oppression which is still apparent in its rural areas and highly segregated neighborhoods,” Whitten says in his email. “Although the city flaunts its liberal, progressive politics, it is lagging behind in employment and education in comparison to the rest of the country. It’s time for Portland to experience a reawakening.”
Whitten first served notice of his intent to run back in November, soon after Occupy’s eviction from three parks near city hall, and has been going back-and-forth with the city over producing and then verifying the 100 signatures a candidate needs to make the ballot. If he doesn’t get the signatures, I’m told, he’ll just end up paying the filing fee.
So far, Whitten has been arrested three times while protesting as part Occupy Portland. He helped plan the Jamison Square occupation in October, and was arrested when police cleared it out. He was arrested during some occupiers’ last stand in Chapman Square. And then he was arrested during a theatrical occupation of tiny Mill Ends Park downtown.
Whitten also has been a fixture at police accountability hearings in city hall in recent weeks, making that one of his issues, along with economic equality, political transparency, and foreclosure reform, according to his announcement. Whitten “asks that all person and non-person identities contribute no more than 200 dollars to his campaign, giving all income levels proper access to their public officials.”
Which, weirdly, is still more than Commissioner Amanda Fritz, running for re-election, will accept from donors. Whitten’s whole statement is below the cut.
Portland, Ore.— On (Date) Cameron Whitten, 20, an Occupy Wall Street activist has entered his name into the race for Mayor of Portland. Whitten gathered the papers to register on November 14th, the day after the Occupy Portland demonstration was evicted from Lownsdale and Chapman parks. He convinced staff to give him access into City Hall, although current Mayor Sam Adams ordered the entire building to be under lockdown. Whitten says he is running because City Council is on uneasy terms with many Portland residents, “Portland and Oregon has a history of economic and racial oppression which is still apparent in its rural areas and highly segregated neighborhoods. Although the city flaunts its liberal, progressive politics, it is lagging behind in employment and education in comparison to the rest of the country. It’s time for Portland to experience a reawakening.”
Whitten’s vision is to help Portland address this crisis, ranging from economic equality, police accountability, political transparency, and foreclosure reform. He asks that all person and non-person identities contribute no more than 200 dollars to his campaign, giving all income levels proper access to their public officials.
While Portland politicians voice support with concerns raised by the Occupy Movement, they have done little in action, with behaviors that include promoting unlimited campaign contributions despite state laws which prohibit corporate fundraising and enforces individual fundraising caps, calling for massive budget cuts to vital programs while spending millions in pet projects, and blaming poor policy decisions on unarmed civilians, resulting in over $1.76 million wasted on the overtime of a federally investigated police force.
Whitten states, “We are in a state of crisis, both locally and globally. We have been deceived by career politicians who answer to their paycheck before listening to the people. We must influence the culture of our government, and embrace the standards of direct democracy in order to empower our community for our own survival. I run as a candidate of the People, for the People. In office, I will reduce my own salary to Portland’s minimum wage, because public office is not a profession, it’s a civil service. The People need to make more demands of their politicians and reject their private agendas.”
Occupy Wall Street continues to be a nonpolitical, leaderless movement, encouraging the creative actions of autonomous individuals to nonviolently advocate for change.
Press Conference: January 20th, 10:00 AM on the steps of the Multnomah County Justice Center. 1120 SW 3rd Ave Portland, OR 97204
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