Going For the Big Fish: Sharon Maxwell

Sharon Maxwell has nerve! Nobody told her to cast a line into the river of Portland politics in an uphill stream attempt of hooking the Big Fish (incumbent Nick Fish) but she does anyway! And we’re glad she did. If elected, Maxwell inherits a water bureau in crisis and with the proposal of an independent water district, things probably won’t settle down for a while.

 Let’s keep it real, many people are fed up with the same ole same of Portland politics and just like the rent, the water bills are too damn high!
Just so you know, Beautiful Black does not support the proposed water district. We chopped it up with Sharon Maxwell, a breath of fresh air. Visit Sharon Maxwell’s campaign here,  http://sharonmaxwellforportland.org/

Hello Sharon, how are you? And how is the campaign going?
I’m doing great! I know this is the right time and right season to have made this decision. The campaign is going as expected! It’s an uphill battle against an ingrained incumbent, because of the position and not on his record. He hasn’t done much.

In case someone reading this doesn’t know, please tell us who you are.
A Public Servant and Business Woman for over 35 years, I started my first business when I was 14 years old and now I’ve run my own construction company for 14 years with great success. I’m a mother of 4 adult children and 4 grand-children, I’m a daughter, Sister, Friend and Advocate of many.

Let’s back up a bit, what is your relationship to Portland? i.e were you born and raised here etc.?
I’m Native to Portland born and raised right in N/NE Portland but have lived and worked over this whole city.

Share the experiences, education, training and skills that have prepared you for this moment? And why now?
I’ve attended and graduated from PPS and PCC 2004 as Diamond Alumni 2012 and Cohort of Warner Pacific Business Administration project Graduation date April 2015. I am an Entrepreneur, Carpenter, Sprinkler-fitter, Business Woman who has worked in a non-traditional career field for over 21 years. My education, life experiences, and business ownership have given me the skills, tools, relationships and lens that I now bring to this place of “Stepping up Community Participation to the Next Level” We CAN DO BETTER!

Describe Portland’s current political climate? What needs to change?
We need Elected officials who are not just life time career politicians but True Public Servants as our founding Fathers intended it to be. The constitutions clearly says “WE The People” and the “Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self- evident, all men are created equal , that they are endowed by their Creator with certain and unalienable Rights, that among these are LIFE, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We need men and women who will work for the people and not for their own agenda and not out of greed of money and position for themselves but for the things that bring about Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Men and Women who will not put their values first over the people but that truly work for the people. With honesty, integrity, accountability and truth.

You don’t see very many Black women running for political office in Portland, why is that? What will you bring that’s unique from others?
We don’t yet have the leadership development that says we need to develop people because it’s just the right thing to do, there are some entities out their but they’re a work in progress on the way. We need to make sure it’s open to blue collar and white collar because all people have the right to be included in the development of leadership.

I’m a true Public Servant, I haven’t heard anyone mention these words or that this is important to them. That they model the behavior of one who is truly working for the people as the founding fathers meant it to be, government for the people by the people. I bring a different perspective as one who is a public servant, pioneer, visionary and transformational in my approach on how to bring people together around hard issues and stand up for the people. That’s what being a woman in a non-traditional career has taught me, is that I can do what I want if I have a plan and help others to do the same, when they’re told no you can’t.

The vacant lot on the corner of Alberta and MLK is a HOT topic right now, do you care to weigh in?
The existing community and residents that didn’t see any benefit from the revitalization should have been included in the process up front, if anyone says that they are speaking on the behalf of anyone they should make sure that is the case by doing the community forum prior to rules of engagement and their shouldn’t be any hidden agenda’s if your saying it’s for the community.

Yes, communities of color (African Americans) who were redlined to this area over years ago have been forgotten, pushed to the side and just railroaded into no where. We need affordable housing but we need the economic development so people can support themselves and take care of their families and grow to be successful and generate the life they want. Jobs, Employment are the Key FOR ALL!

Nick Fish is the incumbent. Why do you think you can do a better job than Nick Fish?
Nick has broken the trust and the confidence of the people, by having his own agenda at the expense of the tax payers. He’s sat silently on Civil liberties issues in the city around Mental Health and the Homelessness Issues, Housing Discrimination he didn’t use his authority as Commissioner to make sure the bureau was compliant, He didn’t move with action around the Recommendations of the City Auditor around Police Reform and Rogue Police Officer Abuses, He didn’t do anything to prevent and stop the mass incarceration of communities of color as it relates to drugs and gangs. He has stopped listening to citizens across this city and dismissing their voice and concerns around issues that are important to them and how tax payers monies have and are being spent. “ Nick is a Fish out of WATER” Just Disconnected! Nick is only for NICK!

One thing I find interesting about politics is this, folks will complain all day about the status quo. However, when given a chance to vote for change they usually don’t. How do you deal with this? In other words, what part of your campaign is spent convincing people to vote for you?
Yes, we have been trained as people to do nothing and keep things the same because we lack courage and conviction, people are being held hostage because of money, fear of loss of jobs and employment if they speak up in public. People have been lulled to sleep at there own expense and demise!

So called community leaders who say they speak for all black [people] have to stop conducting business as usual we are no longer slaves and people can speak for themselves and we need to cultivate people on how they can do that.

People have given way too much power to the elected when they work for us, we have to hold the elected accountable when they don’t do their jobs  to make sure that people have a quality of life. Bottom LINE !

You have to be involved in the process. If not, they who are elected if not held in check will do nothing and create more problems and make life less and less for the very people who they say they work for.

I’m not trying to convince anyone, my track record proceeds me. I just want to make them aware of who I am and what I’ve already done and if they want someone with those credentials then that says it all.

In a nutshell, what’s the condition of Black people residing in Portland in 2014?
It is one that is not good for the majority of African Americans throughout the city. Years of inappropriate responses to the attack and war on drugs has devastated the entire community. The methods and approaches were just wrong and criminal and to me, including human rights violations. It will take years to repair and correct the injustices that have impacted 2 generations of young people and the families that live in Portland presently. With the lost of over 500 to 1000 lives mostly all in N/NE Portland from 1980 to 2013 it has destroyed families and taken away things we can never get back people that we loved and are no longer here. The State, the City of Portland have to acknowledge that what has gone on here has been the destruction and dismantling of an entire community and families who are suffering and left out. Not only were people lives lost but so many more effected and changed that we can’t even number because the results of the war on drugs it took so much more away than was ever recorded through data entirely or even associated with the war on criminalizing people who were the ones that needed the help of the city to turn the situation around. We have to focus on investment in human capital and into the lives of people that bring about liberty, life and the pursuit of Happiness, when that happens we can all do well. Thanks for your Vote May 20th, 2014 Maxwell.

Watch and listen as Sharon Maxwell states her case for City Commissioner seat #2

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