Mingus Mapps, 51, a former political science professor and a former employee of the Office of Community and Civic Life, is running for Portland City Council against Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.
"Portlanders need a change, and they need a choice," says Mapps, "I love Chloe in many, many ways. She's an inspiration. Frankly, she's been an inspiration to me. I don't think I would have the courage to do this if I didn't see a fellow single parent have the courage to throw her hat in the ring."
But their disagreements begin with neighborhood associations, he says. Eudaly has embarked on a code change, which she says is aimed at making the city's public engagement more inclusive, but that critics say is aimed at weakening the neighborhoods.
"I think neighborhoods are part of the solution; I don't think they're part of our problem," Mapps tells WW. "I also have concerns about how Chloe manages the bureau. I don't see a culture of learning. I don't see a culture that frankly respect the workers or the people of Portland."
Mapps used to work for the office that Eudaly is in the process of changing. Mapps worked for six months at the Office of Community and Civic Life, which Eudaly oversees, until June, when he was fired. He says it happened a week after he was asked to discipline an employee for their body language: "I was asked to do unethical things and I declined."
Eudaly's chief of staff, Marshall Runkel, declined to comment on personnel issues.
Previously Mapps worked for Historic Parkrose, the neighborhood business association.
While in Parkrose, the effort by Mapps to work with the homeless in the neighborhood was the subject of a WW cover story.
Mapps grew up in California, but he was third member of the Mapps family to attend Reed College. (An uncle and aunt preceded him at Reed.)
"It was a story of African-Americans coming to Portland and finding some prosperity," he tells WW. "I see myself as part of that tradition. I appreciate Oregon for that because Oregon has been good to my family."
Mapps has a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University and is a former professor at Bowdoin College and Brandeis University. He moved back to Portland eight years ago when his then-wife, also a poli-sci prof, got a job at Portland State University.
He's currently working to form a consulting firm to work on intergovernmental affairs and redistricting.
"I'm a dad of a 9-year-old and a 10-year-old boy," he says. "I'm concerned about the city they are going to inherit."