Jefferson Smith, one of the co-founders of The Bus Project, has announced his candidacy for Mayor of Portland. He currently sits in the Oregon House of Representatives. Jefferson was one of the major figures of the progressive youth movement during the aughts, and it is great to see our leaders advance in the world of politics.

Here is the text of his announcement email:

I want you to be among the first to know that I’m running to serve as Portland’s next mayor. And I’d like to tell you why.

I love Portland. This city shaped me. I was born here. Went to high school here. Made mistakes here. Built a nonprofit here. Learned here. Represented neighbors in the legislature here. Took for granted that it would always be great here.

As a nonprofit founder and then a state representative from East Portland, I’ve met neighbors struggling to find work or make ends meet, who want safe homes in healthy neighborhoods and don’t have either. I’ve heard about what my neighbors of different stripes are facing and needing: sidewalks, paved roads, a fair chance at real employment, a home that isn’t underwater, safe and efficient transportation, manageable bills, healthy and kind neighborhoods – and a hope for their government to be connected to their reality. And I realized at a deeper level that we can’t afford to take our city for granted.

To decide whether to give up a safe House seat to run for mayor, I started by listening and thinking not merely (or primarily) about whether I wanted to be mayor, or whether I could win an election, but about what we could do as a city together. And I my wife and I – and some priceless friends – considered whether I could help. Like a little engine, I think I can.

We are starting off right away by offering some brief thoughts on priorities for the city. Our campaigns shouldn’t just be marketing campaigns to gain power; campaigns should also be conversations about where we want to go as a city, and how we’re going to get there. I am writing this the night before I suspect a bunch of members of the media are going to ask me questions. The brief policy areas are not meant to be quick (or final) answers, but to be kickstarts to a conversation. A conversation I hope you’ll join.

Growing up and working here, I’ve come to understand something else: Portlanders love to work together to solve problems. And, to borrow from a former president, there is nothing wrong with Portland that what’s right with Portland can’t fix.

We can have big vision and work in small and real ways. We can be prosperous, sustainable, and fair. We can reconnect the people of the city with the power of the city. We can be a city that works … for the whole city. We can set an example to the world of what a city can be. I can’t do that alone, but we can do that. Together, Portland Will.

To be successful, we’ll need your help. Please go to my website and sign up to help.

Thanks for all you do,

Jefferson Smith