On October 19, Catlin Gabel School is holding a debate between mayoral candidates Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith. During this debate, the candidates make their final pleas for Portlanders’ votes, but what happened the last time they faced off on the Cabell Center stage?
On January 30, 2012, the three front-running primary candidates, Eileen Brady, Smith, and Hales, came to Catlin for one of their first mayoral debates. Brady will not be participating in this Catlin debate, as she did not make it through the primary election.
Smith began the debate with a joke: “First of all let me say, thank you for doing this. This is fun… I hope.”
His humor set him apart from the other candidates, adding to the youth-oriented points he made throughout the debate. In response to a question about unemployment, Smith declined his time for rebuttal and went for a quick joke instead, saying “We have an internship program with the campaign, I was told to please plug it, so I did.”
While Smith targeted the youth, Hales took a different approach. In his opening statement, Hales said “…this is so valuable that you’re doing this, that you’re bringing substance and serious issues to the fore and making us respond.” He also noted that while he may be more experienced and older than the students running the debate, his word wasn’t the final say.
He continued his opening statement, “But you need to ponder what we say in response to these questions… In my case you don’t have to wonder, you just have to look…at the light rail system or the streetcar… My greatest strength in coming to this office is that I have this capacity to get things done and make this agenda real.”
Last year, the CatlinSpeak staff concluded that Smith had won the debate. The consensus was that “Jefferson Smith’s outspoken and assertive attitude might render him a difficult man to work with, and though his ideologies may not all be completely in line with each other, the staff members of CatlinSpeak agree that he knocked the debate out of the park on the 30th, and we laud him for that.”
This year’s debate will be one of the final opportunities for voters to see these two candidates in a formal debate before the election, and it will be a definitive insight as to how each of them would lead the city.