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Theo Hathaway Saner

My Story...

I come to you with a story woven in the resilience and unity of small-town America. Raised in Arcata, a coastal logging town, as the son of a mill worker and a waitress, I witnessed our community facing challenges during the economic downturn of the late '80s and early '90s. The crash of the timber industry tested our strength, and issues like spotted owl conservation and salvage logging created divisions. Today, I still return to my roots, finding solace in the natural beauty that shaped my formative years.

Growing up in a small town as a young gay man was both a journey of self-discovery and a testament to the resilience of community bonds. In the tight-knit fabric of my hometown, where everyone seemed to know everyone else, embracing my identity required courage and authenticity. Navigating the nuances of self-expression within the context of a close community encouraged me to appreciate the strength found in diversity and the power of acceptance. This unique upbringing has shaped not only my personal journey but also fuels my commitment to fostering inclusivity and understanding in every community I encounter.

These experiences instilled in me a deep appreciation for environmental stewardship and the preservation of our natural spaces. As your candidate, I bring values forged in the crucible of economic uncertainty and community discord.

Venturing north to Alaska in my teens, I dedicated myself to environmental advocacy, eventually leading campaigns to safeguard Alaska's pristine landscapes. My academic journey at Portland State University solidified my commitment to sustainable development. Now, I bring my experiences and expertise to serve you, the resilient and environmentally conscious residents of Portland.

Having worked in various Portland restaurants, including two I helped open and curate, I understand the challenges of the service industry. This experience taught me the importance of teamwork, resourcefulness, and financial prudence. In 2011, I purchased a house in NE Portland with a bartender's tips and a first-time homebuyer loan. Unfortunately many workers today are unable to afford a home on wages and tips.

In recent years, my focus has been on affordable housing and homelessness. Employed by Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives (PCRI), I assist individuals in low-income tax credit housing, navigating compliance and certification processes. PCRI addresses historical injustices and works to ensure they are not repeated.

I proudly serve on the board of WeShine, a nonprofit constructing and managing micro villages to transition Portland’s most vulnerable individuals from unsheltered conditions to stable housing. Our model boasts an 80% success rate, with participants transitioning to permanent housing within months. Collaboration with the Joint Office of Homeless Services has led to upcoming projects that will further our impact.

My personal experiences, having once relied on food stamps, allow me to empathize with tough choices during financial scarcity. This election is an opportunity to shape Portland's future, welcoming new perspectives and avoiding stagnation. Let's forge a city government that reflects our community's diversity and brings fresh solutions to age-old challenges.

Together, we can redefine the possibilities for Portland's future.

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