Progressive Nonprofits Release Joint Questionnaire for City Council Hopefuls

The questions offer a peek into what the participating nonprofits are looking for in candidates.

Backers of Portland charter reform gather on election night in 2022. (Michael Raines)

More than 60 candidates have filed to run for Portland City Council this November, which creates a logistical challenge for organizations that issue endorsements: how to sort through so many hopefuls.

A group of progressive nonprofits has agreed on a joint vetting strategy. Oregon Futures Lab, a progressive political advocacy group, released a list of questions for City Council candidates earlier this month. It will send all responses to a group of progressive nonprofits that plan to endorse in the fall election.

The questions offer a peek into what the participating nonprofits—all of whom were supporters of the charter reform measure that created the upcoming government overhaul—are looking for in candidates.

Questions include: “Which groups, organizations and/or notable individuals do you consider among your base?” and “How should communities of color and other intersectional communities continue to hold you accountable as an elected official?”

Candidates are also asked to name their top three campaign issues and how they affect communities of color and “other intersectional communities.”

Organizations participating in the questionnaire include APANO Action Fund, Building Power for Communities of Color, East County Rising, and NAYA Action Fund, most political arms of prominent social service nonprofits in Portland.

“It’s up to the individual endorsing organization on what they want to do with the collected information,” Erin Kothari, executive director of Oregon Futures Lab, said about the questionnaire.

“In past election cycles, Oregon Futures Lab (OFL) has convened progressive endorsing organizations to collaborate on local elections. This work has always fallen on community-based organizations who are under-resourced and stretched thin by balancing endorsements with other critical work,” Futures Lab wrote in a recent letter to organizations it believed might participate. “This [tool] gives endorsing organizations access to comprehensive information about candidates and their campaigns and allows you to focus your questionnaire on questions central to your organization’s values and policy priorities.”

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