When Portlandians prepared to elect a new mayor in the months leading up to the May 2016 primary vote, few saw Sarah Iannarone coming.
As co-founder of First Stop Portland, the organization responsible for telling the city’s sustainability story, and owner of a popular brunch spot in the so-hip-it-hurts Southeast PDX neighbourhood, Iannarone was a political neophyte. She jumped into the race, and with a firm grasp of progressive environmental, social and economic values — and a compellingly forthright approach on the stump — she finished in third place, with almost 12% of the vote. She also captured a lot of the general discontent about the city’s direction, eerily similar to conversations we’ve been having in Vancouver. And because of all this, Iannarone built a following.
Today, she’s an urban policy consultant, a doctoral candidate in urban studies and planning, a volunteer for numerous committees, community groups and NGOs, a prolific tweeter, and a sought-after talking head in Portland media on a variety of topics. Like freeway expansion (she’s against it), police violence (um, also against), the gentrification vs urban revitalization debate (conflicted), and improvements for cycling (strongly for).
Gord spoke to Iannarone at the end of her recent trip to Victoria and Vancouver. The conversation reinforced the separated-at-birth feels we have for our sister city…coffee and cycling and pinot (oh my). Furthermore, she insisted that, despite the snow, the planned Mobi bike tour of downtown and False Creek must go on. She brought her rain cape, after all. Makes us wonder if Portland electoral ballots haven’t seen the last of Iannarone, Sarah.