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INDUSTRY NEWS

We reached out to some key candidates in this year’s primary to find out how their priorities align with ours and the media professionals we represent. We’ve included their responses in full for your review—we’ll update this post as we get more back. OMPA will not be issuing any endorsements; this information is to help you make your own informed decisions.

Responses as of May 6:

  • Mayor of Portland
    • Sarah Iannarone
    • Teressa Raiford
  • Commissioner: Carmen Rubio
  • State Congress
    • Dick Schouten, running for SD14
    • Andy Saultz, running for HD33
 
CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR OF PORTLAND
 
Sarah Iannarone
 
Please give an overview of your economic development plan. What part does media production play in Portland’s economy?
 
I am running for mayor of Portland and while a great deal of industry-scale development should be done at state and regional levels, there are things the city of Portland can do to ensure access to good paying, green collar jobs for our workers while ensuring they have homes they can afford so they can live here and transit to access them. 
 
Portland’s brand as a creative innovation hub is strong around the world. I’ve worked the last ten years internationally answering requests from visiting leaders in cities around the world coming to Portland to study our policies and best practices for economic competitiveness, including from the film and media industry in Brazil, Japan, and New Zealand. Together, we’ve explored our regional comparative advantage in the global marketplace, including investments in education, workforce development, and production-related small business. I know we are on the right track, but there is so much more we can be doing to ensure our local industry (which includes digital comics and gaming) is a pathway to opportunity for Portlanders that is low-carbon and lifts up our BIPOC community members. 
 
In the post-COVID world, business as usual is no longer an option, so we have released a plan for Portland’s recovery that in fact does outline our economic priorities for the future. Of relevance to your industry would be the section on investments in a Thriving Cultural and Creative Economy– you can read the plan in full at sarah2020.com/recovery, but here are some noteworthy points:
  • Portland’s artists and creatives are powerhouses at the center of our economy and we must fight to protect, grow, and diversify the thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in annual economic impact undergirding Portland’s vibrancy. [1] In the past decade, Portland has taken our human arts and cultural capital for granted. If we want artists and creatives and makers to thrive in our city, we must ensure them a living wage, housing they can afford, and the other protections they need to survive and thrive here. In particular, we must robustly fund capacity building for culturally specific organizations.

  • It’s time to get rid of the Arts Tax once and for all. We must replace Portland’s broken, regressive head tax with a progressive, fair-share approach to funding arts, culture, education, programming, and creative, maker, and art spaces.

  • Innovate ways to support Portland Parks & Recreation through investments in arts and culture infrastructure and programming. We need to break down silos that undermine our ability to maintain our crumbling municipal infrastructure. By bundling municipal activities across bureaus, we can support our perennially threatened parks budget through arts and education funding and as well as through investments in neighborhood-scale amenities like Community Safety Hubs and childcare centers. (Sarah has endorsed the Universal Preschool Now effort.) 

  • Rethink city zoning and development processes for more affordable housing, creative and makerspaces. You can read more about Sarah’s ideas for affordable housing and mixed-use zones here.

What is your general opinion of the Oregon Production investment Fund (OPIF) and the indigenous Oregon Production Investment Fund (iOPIF)? How would you direct city resources to support these programs?
 
We want every public dollar regardless of its source leveraged for maximum impact. Portland has clearly demonstrated capacity to do just this by building innovative partnerships to advance economic and urban development based on our values of equity, resiliency, and sustainability. The best thing that the city can do sometimes is bring stakeholders together in creative ways and then get out of the way. There are existing successful frameworks from biotech that apply here, including spending on technical support and start-up resources for entrepreneurs, focusing on career pathways, and place-based initiatives that could include access to affordable creative space and rethinking city zoning for “light industrial” uses. 
 
For this to be effective, the Portland Mayor’s Office will need a broad network of community partners outside the traditional downtown business channels to ensure a diversity of ideas make it to the table with real power to shape and deliver on strategic priorities.
 
What would you do to streamline the city permitting process for media production projects? What other steps can Portland take to facilitate media productions?
 
As a small business founder myself, I’m sympathetic to the challenges of navigating Portland’s numerous outdated byzantine commission form of government and clunky permitting processes. Portland should be attempting to minimize these transaction costs so that local film production can spend more resources on livable wages for their employees, not on endless paperwork. 
I’m certainly interested to hear more from OMPA members about which permits, regulations, processes, and bureaus present the most significant barriers and costs to production and willing to work with industry leaders to address them in a timely fashion. 
 
What steps would you take to attract more media production projects to Portland?
 
The most important thing the Portland mayor can do in this realm is decide that attracting these types of projects to Portland is important and invest in it. Portland is not Los Angeles or Vancouver; as with wines, microbrews and other cultural and agricultural products our focus should be on quality and sustainability. 
 
Toronto has made great gains in this front by approaching the industry both vertically and horizontally, and Portland’s existing tech and export sectors are an asset here even as we create pipelines of opportunity through investments in education, jobs training, and entrepreneurship. WE should continue to evaluate successes and limitations in the Innovation Quadrant model for areas such as Gateway Innovation district as a place-based means of expanding opportunity through this sector and to take our local capacity to the next level. 
 
I’ll conclude by pointing out that film and media professionals, like Portlanders across all industries, need substantial policy shifts to tackle the pernicious problem of Portland’s lack of affordable housing. Portland can only continue to attract and retain top creative talent if people can afford to live here. My 3800-word “Housing for All” plan provides a diagnosis of why we’re continuing to stagnate on providing enough housing, and includes specific language about how I’d govern to bolster tenant protections, provide more housing near transit, and support other initiatives to ensure ample workforce housing OMPA-affiliated businesses require to attract and retain talent. Please visit this plan online at https://sarah2020.com/housingforall
 
Are you currently using, or would you be willing to use, a local production company for your campaign’s advertisements and other video needs? 
 
By my unofficial account, my campaign has already paid at least four local artists and production companies in the course of this campaign. We’ve been deliberate about seeking out local talent for the production of our content, and intend to continue to do so until the conclusion of the election in November. We launched our campaign with a video made by a local videographer most well known for music videos, we commissioned an art poster from a local artist, our operations director comes from the entertainment industry, and we have bought local whenever possible not just for art but for all aspects of our campaign. 
 
We have also regularly contracted with local ASL interpreters and accessibility consultants to ensure accessibility of everything we produce. 
 
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us that would be relevant to the members of our industry?
 
As a former program administrator who brought international urban development experts to Portland, I’m acutely familiar with Portland’s brand in the global marketplace and the relative strengths and weaknesses of our approach. I am deeply aware that Portland’s Technology & Media cluster is one of the fastest growing in our economy, employing nearly 14,000 people in Multnomah County and that at present Prosper Portland is engaged in business assistance in this realm; however, we are falling short of our goals in terms of equitable access to programs and resources for BIPOC Portlanders via the Tech Pledge. I am committed to remediating this. It is unacceptable that after three years of investment we have a net LOSS of Black workers in the Tech Pledge companies. 
 
To remedy this, if elected, I will appoint a Director of Small Business & Entrepreneurship to be located in the Portland Mayor’s Office to evaluate Portland’s small business and entrepreneurship ecosystem, better align strategic partnerships and investments, and liaison between city hall and various business organizations and advocacy groups (across sectors) citywide to deliver a clear set of deliverables based in our equity goals. They will also lead on streamlining Small Business Administration support for small businesses as well as investments in data collection systems of underrepresented entrepreneurs and employers to scale up their share of the economy. The Technology and Media sector will be a critical partner in the work of creating low-carbon jobs of the future which present opportunities for greater shared prosperity for Portlanders. 
 

Teressa Raiford
 
Please give an overview of your economic development plan. What part does media production play in Portland’s economy?
 
Media production is an under-utilized asset in Portland’s economy. I feel like Portland residents need increased media awareness and production companies outside of the state should be encouraged to partner with local producers to take advantage of the many unique physical attributes of the Oregon landscape. That encouragement often takes the form of tax breaks, but we should begin raising more promotion and awareness as well.
 
What is your general opinion of the Oregon Production investment Fund (OPIF) and the indigenous Oregon Production Investment Fund (iOPIF)? How would you direct city resources to support these programs?
 
The OPIF should be expanded and the $1 million limit should be lowered. The point of increasing production is to increase employment. Lowering the $1 million limit would encourage smaller productions and short term productions like episodic television to consider working in the state, employing people on a freelance basis. 
 
What would you do to streamline the city permitting process for media production projects? What other steps can Portland take to facilitate media productions?
 
My knowledge on the permitting process is limited but I would love to collaborate with media production companies in Portland to create more innovative ways for the city to be a partner in developing opportunities.
 
What steps would you take to attract more media production projects to Portland?
Implementing tax breaks and highlighting the talent that lives here would be a great start. There are a lot of graphic designers, animators and studios that deserve more opportunities. As I said above, I’d love to collaborate more within the media industry to see how the city could better understand and serve these needs.
 
Are you currently using, or would you be willing to use, a local production company for your campaign’s advertisements and other video needs? 
 
I have used a local production team here in Portland by the name of Fifth Column Films for years as well as others for documenting my nonprofits’ educational programming and protests. Some of this footage has been used in documentaries and has been re-circulated through literature; a majority of our content has been stored in our local archives. We have created a platform for this industry through our outreach.
 
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us that would be relevant to the members of our industry?
 
The fact that there isn’t a large industry presence here is an opportunity to imagine and build a community that reflects the values we hold dear. The reason grunge came out of Seattle is because nobody was looking for new music in Seattle, so they had time and space to imagine something new. As the old-boy Hollywood network system eats itself, there is an opportunity to imagine not just new artistic creations, but a new production model that is sustainable, equitable, and transparent. City government can start with leading by example.


CANDIDATES FOR COMMISSIONER
 
Carmen Rubio
 
Please give an overview of your economic development plan. What part does media production play in Portland’s economy?
 
One reason I’m running for office is that I care about economic prosperity for all Portlanders. The Portland I envision takes care of hardworking and low-income families, and local and small businesses first. Communities of color, small businesses, and low-income Portlanders know that this city’s prosperity has often come at the expense of our communities. I support rapidly increasing contracting opportunities with minority- and women-owned businesses, small businesses, and start up support and technical assistance to help local businesses remain intact and in their preferred neighborhoods. I believe there is a potential nexus between further developing these businesses, and supporting media production opportunities in a changing economic landscape. In the post-COVID-19 economy, digital and media production will play a significant role, and has potential to provide good jobs and opportunities for employment. 
 
What is your general opinion of the Oregon Production investment Fund (OPIF) and the indigenous Oregon Production Investment Fund (iOPIF)? How would you direct city resources to support these programs?
 
I’m supportive of OPIF and iOPIF as incentives for helping retain, recruit, and promote Oregon’s media production industry and stimulate economic development in our community. I admittedly have much more to learn about these programs and their impact, so I would be interested once elected to meet with stakeholders for their insight in evaluating its usage and effectiveness, and how it might be strengthened. Then on Council, I would encourage my colleagues to ask the State of Oregon to continue and strengthen support for these programs, with the film community’s recommendations, as part of Portland’s legislative agenda.
 
What would you do to streamline the city permitting process for media production projects? What other steps can Portland take to facilitate media productions?
 
I am supportive of reducing barriers to media production projects in Portland imposed by the City’s permitting process. I would be open to ideas from OMPA on how best to do this through the work of the Portland Film Office. A short term solution would be to ensure the city has staff capacity in all pertinent bureaus to ensure efficient service and warm handoff so that the process goes more smoothly, i.e. a permitting navigator or concierge. However, the more permanent and long term solution is government structure change to a council/city manager model. Changing our form of government would get at some root structural barriers that make permit navigation unnecessarily cumbersome or lengthy. And in light of our COVID-19 emergency, now is the ideal time to consider ways to improve how the City is serving the community. This includes media production and other industries vital to a healthy economy. 
 
What steps would you take to attract more media production projects to Portland?
 
In my current work as a director of a nonprofit, we’ve been fortunate to have partnered with film and video production professionals for years in our Studio Latino program that exposes the industry and skills to low income and Latinx teens. I’ve seen firsthand the impact that having creative media control to develop, produce, and share your own stories- this is a powerful medium that is increasingly becoming more important given this health crisis. For these reasons, you can count on me to be an advocate on the Council for media production in Portland. This includes regular and strong lines of communication with the film community and continuing support for the Portland Film Office within Prosper Portland as a connection between filmmakers and the city. In light of COVID-19’s impact on our economy, I am open to ideas on how to increase media production within Portland to put people back to work as soon as possible. 
 
Are you currently using, or would you be willing to use, a local production company for your campaign’s advertisements and other video needs? 
 
100% of my campaign advertisements (and a short video) have been locally produced by small businesses. Because I am an OAE candidate with a spending limit,  I haven’t been able to do the number or scale of video projects and commercials in this campaign that I would have liked – this is feedback I will definitely share with OAE.  I will also happily continue to use local production companies in the future.
 
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us that would be relevant to the members of our industry?
 
I’ve long been a supporter of media production in Portland. During my time working for Mayor Tom Potter, the Portland Office of Film and Video was first launched. This has since become the Portland Film Office within Prosper Portland. I saw firsthand the benefit of having a single point of contact within government to support the film industry. Focus is essential if we want good service, and great outcomes, and I will do what I can to make sure the film and video production industry has the support from the city they need to thrive.


CANDIDATES FOR STATE CONGRESS
 
Dick Schouten
Running for: SD14
 
Please give an overview of your economic development plan. What part does media production play in Portland’s economy?
 
COVID-19 and subsequent recession have revealed that America’s and Oregon’s economy is fragile and highly inequitable. We must work towards immediate relief for workers and struggling businesses (most especially our smaller businesses); and on two important pieces of basic economic restructuring:
  1. Permanent stimulus at the State and Federal level – building green infrastructure focused on the economic and environmental needs of communities, among others; and
  2. Developing lasting economic security. Our social safety net is far too thin and fragile. We must rethink unemployment insurance, health care, child care retirement etc., and implement universal basic income.
 
Media production plays an important part in the Portland Region’s economy, and will be critical to further strengthening our Region’s and Oregon’s brand and our collective ability to attract creative and entrepreneurial people. I know this given the numerous State and regional economic studies I’ve read over the years, and my long time service as a Washington County Commissioner and President of the Board of Directors for Washington County’s Five Oaks Museum.
 
What is your general opinion of the Oregon Production investment Fund (OPIF) and the indigenous Oregon Production Investment Fund (iOPIF)? How would you direct city resources to support these programs?
 
Unfortunately this questionnaire comes very late in the Spring Primary campaign. I look forward to better understanding how these Funds operate, have performed, are funded and what precisely they fund in the coming weeks after the Spring Primary concludes on May 19th. I look forward to fuller discussions with OMPA and others in the coming months.
Also please note I serve on the Washington County Board of Commissioners (for nearly 20 years) and hope to serve in the State Senate. I have not been in a jurisdictional position nor would I as a State Senator, to direct City of Portland resources.
 
What would you do to streamline the city permitting process for media production projects? What other steps can Portland take to facilitate media production?
 
I have been on the Board of Commissioners for Washington County not the City of Portland, and I’m running for a State Senate seat overwhelmingly located inside Washington County and outside the City of Portland’s jurisdiction. However, I look forward to hearing more about how I might be able to help “streamline” Portland’s permitting process for media production projects and help facilitate such productions in Portland and elsewhere in the State including of course Washington County.
 
What steps would you take to attract more media production projects to Portland? 
 
I look forward to hearing what OMPA might suggest to attract more media projects to Portland, and elsewhere in the State.
 
Are you currently using, or would you be willing to use, a local production company for your campaign’s advertisements and other video needs?
 
My State Senate campaign has not and at this late date not likely to use any videos for the Spring Primary, but I might do so in the Fall. I am certainly willing to consider a local production company for campaign videos I may need or want for the Fall elections.
 

Andy Saultz
 
Running for: HD33
 
Please give an overview of your economic development plan. What part does media production play in Portland’s economy? 
 
Rebuilding Oregon’s economy from the COVID-19 pandemic is a top priority that will take serious state investment. Workers and small businesses are the backbone of our economy and must be supported through these tough times. Workers need to have fair wages, fair benefits, safe working conditions, collective bargaining rights, and a strong safety net. I also support expanding unemployment benefits for laid-off and furloughed workers. Many small businesses are struggling with cash flow and making payroll. I will advocate for every level of government to support these businesses through financial stimulus, additional loans, and increasing labor deductions, ensuring that workers have jobs to come back to. In the longterm, we need to invest in enhanced workforce training and career/technical education, which are critical to providing our residents with the skills to find good jobs. 
 
It is also important that we diversify our economy to make it more resilient. Media production is an important sector in Portland’s economy that must be supported and I worry that our politicians will only support the most affected industries. While I agree that we must support the most affected industries, we cannot neglect other important parts of the economy, which will be instrumental for creating a robust, diverse, and resilient economy. My experience working for the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency and as a School Board Member during the Great Recession will be invaluable for getting the most out of the state budget and rebuilding Oregon’s economy in the coming legislative session. 
 
What is your general opinion of the Oregon Production investment Fund (OPIF) and the indigenous Oregon Production Investment Fund (iOPIF)? How would you direct city resources to support these programs? 
 
These funds are an important resource for supporting a robust media environment and creating jobs. I fully support these funds and will advocate for increasing the city’s investment into these programs. With the economic downturn stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that the government makes serious investments in our economy and creates jobs across sectors. We can do this by increasing the dollar amount of auctioned tax credits to further incentivize high bidding and increasing tax credits for media production across the board. 
 
What would you do to streamline the city permitting process for media production projects? What other steps can Portland take to facilitate media productions? 
 
Most permitting processes in Oregon are confusing and take too long, which hinders innovation and commerce. This creates issues across sectors, especially in areas like housing. I will work to streamline these processes across the board by simplifying the permitting guidelines, lowering waiting periods, and upgrading the technology that our government is using. With relatively minimal investments we can make our systems run much more efficiently and effectively. 
Streamlining these processes and making investments in our media protection industry will help facilitate more projects and create jobs. However, it is also important that we create a robust economy that encourages commerce. The media industry relies on consumer spending so it is important that we rebuild our local economy and create a healthy media environment. My ability to bring folks together and help create a robust economy that works for all Oregonians will be invaluable for supporting media production. 
 
What steps would you take to attract more media production projects to Portland? 
 
With our current economic circumstances and increasing mental health crisis, it is more important than ever that we attract more media production projects to Portland and the rest of the state. I will work to attract more media production by increasing the state’s investment in programs similar to the OPIF, advocating for more city dollars to go to this important sector, streamlining the city and state permitting processes across the board, and rebuilding Oregon’s economy to make it a robust landscape for media projects. When I lived in Michigan, they were very successful in attracting media projects by increasing tax credits and deductions across the industry. We need to evaluate these credits and implement the credits which will be the best investments and incentivize projects coming to Oregon. 
 
Are you currently using, or would you be willing to use, a local production company for your campaign’s advertisements and other video needs? 
 
In the primary, we have designed all of our advertisements in house and have not done video advertising. However, I absolutely would use a local production company to produce audio or video advertisements and anticipate doing so in the general election. 
 
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us that would be relevant to the members of our industry? 
 
I served as a school board member during the Great Recession and am the only candidate in this race to have ever held elected office. I am also the only candidate in this race who grew up in the district and the only candidate who lives in Washington County, which is about two-thirds of the district. This unmatched experience and perspective will allow me to step in and be a successful legislator on day one. Of all the candidates in this race, I have the broadest coalition supporting me, having earned the support of over 30 current or former elected officials, including the district’s State Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, the only chamber of commerce to endorse in this race, and six labor unions. This broad coalition demonstrates my ability to find solutions that work for all parties, which will be critical for recovering from the pandemic and economic downturn. 
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