Sean Davis continues his bid to be mayor of Portland, filing the paperwork and pondering the monumental task ahead.
“I’m Sean Davis and I’m running for mayor of Portland, Oregon.”
When I tell this to people I don’t know, most of them ask if I’m serious. Think about that. Is it that far-fetched to believe that a normal guy from the lower middle class wants to promote our community and give voice to the people who live in it? What does that say about our political system today when people have a hard time believing that someone other than a career politician can run for office? Our country was founded with the intent that our officials should accurately represent the people.
My wife and I drove downtown to the auditor to file all the mayoral candidate paperwork I had filled out the night before while having dinner with a friend at McMenamins Kennedy School. On the way from the parking structure to the city hall, we walked below the magnificent muse for our city, the statue of Portlandia. Did you know that she is the second largest copper repoussé statue in the United States? This is significant because when you create a statue in this way you are taking metal and hammering it repeatedly from the inside, slowly and painstakingly forming it and bending it until it is a piece of art. This is a long and difficult process, but the unique beauty of Portlandia herself is proof that it’s well worth it.
I’d never been inside city hall downtown before. It’s beautiful. And the city auditor was not only very nice, but encouraging. We made sure all the paperwork was filled out correctly. I was going to collect signatures instead of simply paying the $50 filing fee, but then I decided to pay because I wanted to see if I could just get it done in order to be a part of the candidate forum held at the Gerding Theater later this month. If I had chosen to get the 100 signatures, that meant putting off being an official candidate for three weeks at least. So we paid the $50 with a check from our joint account, which only has $200 in it until my wife gets paid in a week and a half.
So, it’s official. I am a candidate for the mayor of Portland. I was humming the whole way home. It kept going through my head, “I’m on the ballot for mayor in my city.”
As soon as I got home, I emailed the Regional Arts & Culture Council who is sponsoring the mayoral candidate forum. I wrote them, “Hello. My name is Sean Davis and I’m officially on the ballot to become mayor for Portland. Please let me know what I have to do in order to be in the candidate forum.” An hour later I got my response:
Hi, Matt. Sorry to report that the participating candidates were chosen back in December, and to keep things focused and intimate we are limiting the event to two candidates per race. Please keep in touch as you develop any arts-related policies as part of your platform that we should know about. Thanks!
Then, someone helping me with the campaign messaged me the Oregon Money Watch website, specifically the page showing how my opponent Ted Wheeler has already raised $250,000 for his campaign. The other person in the intimate two-person forum is Jules Bailey. He is a Multnomah County Commissioner and an economist who has been a politician since 2009 and went to Princeton.
Yes, I am fully aware that I am jousting at windmills here, but Don Quixote has always been a hero of mine. I’m not fazed by this. It may seem impossible, but think about Portlandia again. This gigantic beauty was created one hammer stroke at a time from the inside. The artist hammered away until the metal was malleable, until his art was exposed. Sure, they have support, they have money, and they’re ingrained in the system already, but I don’t mind a long and difficult process. I believe that the unique beauty of our town is well worth it.
Being cynical about the political process has become a reflex. They’ve created a culture that has somehow made us subconsciously believe that only the rich or well-off can run for office. But we can get through this. So far, everyone who I’ve explained the reasons why I want to be mayor has then asked another question: “How can I help?”
Cyrano de Bergerac Act II Lines 361-368
Have you read Don Quixote?
I have—and found myself the hero.
A PORTER (Appears at the door.)
Be so good as to read once more
The chapter of the windmills.
Windmills, remember, if you fight with them—
My enemies change, then, with every wind?
—May swing round their huge arms and cast you down
Into the mire.
Or up—among the stars!