First, Strimling recommitted to making sure everyone in the City has a place at the table. That might sound like no big deal, but it is. Particularly if you’re someone (or a group of someones) who hasn’t been at the table at all. Including new voices and perspectives in the decision making process will change outcomes – it’s a commitment that has substance.
Strimling was quick to say that inclusion in the process doesn’t mean you’ll like the outcome. He stressed that everyone can’t be happy with what’s decided all the time. Instead he’s counting on inclusion to validate City policy decisions in ways they have not been validated before. That depends on people participating, and then accepting a decision. We’ll know soon enough if expanded inclusion is happening – my bet is that Strimling will follow through.
Next Strimling identified two critical improvements for Portland. Two thousand more middle class housing units as soon as possible. And universal pre-K for all Portland kids.
Housing will get a super-Committee of five Councilors working to speed up additional housing construction. I’ve got an idea that social impact investing ought to be a part of the solution because market forces may not fill the gap and more regulations will hurt investment. No matter what the solution, it’s clear that creative thinking will be needed to get a jump on this issue.
Pre-K is a huge statewide priority, not yet universally available because it’s expensive. But there’s nothing more effective when it comes to improving student performance than making sure kids enter school well fed and ready to learn. Pre-K can do that, and from our perspective it’s an essential step toward performance based educational success for all our kids. Once again creativity in the funding arena is going to be critical to success. And this is a place where the City’s bonding authority may well come into play.
Four years ago the former Mayor spent 45 minutes during his inaugural talking about a long list specific policy objectives. Last night Strimling only really discussed two, but he did something more important. He clearly articulated a vision of Portland where everyone is heard, everyone gets a say, and everyone benefits from priority successes like more housing for middle class families and better educational opportunities for every child in the City.
Not a bad start.