There was an excellent turnout for the 2017 Lents Neighborhood Association board election Tuesday night, September 26th.

All of the elected candidates were featured in the LNA election guide I published yesterday, if you’d like to learn more about them.

Stick around until the end of the piece for some thoughts from former LNA chair Nick Christensen on what he’d like to see in the neighborhood and the neighborhood association.

The winners:

Sabina Urdes was elected as the LNA Chair, winning with 69% of the vote (129 votes).

Christo Brehm was elected as the LNA Transportation Chair, winning with 71% of the vote (127 votes).

Cora Potter was elected as the LNA Land Use Chair, winning with 71% of the vote (130 votes).

Jason Umtuch and Barbara Bader were elected as LNA At Large Chairs (both to a full two-year term). Umtuch won 34% of the vote (115 votes) and Bader won with 30% of the vote (102 votes).

Amina Wilson was elected as a LNA At Large Chair (a one-year half term), winning with 92% of the vote (144 votes).


From the City of Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement, Paul Leistner oversaw the election. He said that not everyone who received a ballot voted for every position.

189 Lents residents voted this year, compared to 155 in 2016.

The 2016 election was the first with more than one candidate for each position. All the seats in this year’s election were contested but one, the one-year At Large Chair position.

According to the LNA website, the next board meeting is October 12th, from 6:30 pm – 8 pm at KingPins Family Entertainment Center, 3550 SE 92nd Ave.
The meetings are open to the public.
I reached out to Nick when I was putting together the election guide. He served the LNA as vice chair from 2009 to April 2010 and as chair from April 2010 to September 2013. Everyone I’ve talked with had nothing but great things to say about his leadership, and his comments I’ve seen on social media are always positive and helpful.
I asked if he was endorsing anyone or if he had suggestions for a smoother process. I expected a line or two, but was delighted to receive the following thoughts:

“My hope, after Tuesday’s elections, is that the LNA is able to feel more like a cohesive, neighborhood organization again. That people will start assuming good intent in their neighbors, even when they disagree on issues of substance. That people will learn to ignore the agitators who thrive on attention.

I hope the LNA goes back to having everyone sit in a circle at general meetings, side by side with neighbors and board members, and not the electorate facing the elected. The LNA isn’t a city council. It’s a community discussion.

I hope agendas are published in a timely manner. I hope people follow the bylaws and don’t interpret them creatively.

I hope people can remember that the LNA is run by volunteers, and they are not only fallible humans but also, in many cases, fallible humans with jobs and lives and families and hobbies.

I hope that people can understand that change is inevitable, and the best thing you can do to deal with that is try to shape it. Things will either get better or worse. They will seldom stay “just as good.” This is both my experience, and suggested through research.

A friend of mine, before Tuesday’s meeting, said he was surprised at something I said on Facebook. And I responded that I’ve always felt it’s easier to meet people where they’re at and bring them along with you than to stand 10 feet in front of them and insist that they catch up. I think that’s an approach that people need to take to heart. Listen to your neighbors’ concerns. Speak to them in a language they can understand. Hope that you can turn them 1 degree at a time. Too fast, and people get whiplash.

The next five years are crucial for Lents.

– With the opening of the apartments in the Lents Town Center, how do we, as neighbors, support the businesses and ensure the apartment owners remain involved and committed to a healthy neighborhood?
– How do continue the momentum to ensure the city honors its commitment of 150+ new market-rate apartments to match the 150+ affordable apartments now under construction? We were promised a 50-50 split. We should get that.
– How do we find a way to not only eliminate the rising, obscene flood insurance premiums for areas in the Johnson Creek corridor – Lents residents spend more than $1 million a year on flood insurance premiums, a number that could double by 2022 – but also actually eliminate the threat of flooding? How can that effort increase recreation, public safety and access to jobs?
– How do members of Lents’ Asian, Somali and Latino communities in particular gain access to decision-making about our community’s future?
– As the police bureau reforms, how do we ensure Lents has improved public safety and the reforms meet our community’s needs?
– What happens to Marshall High School after Grant moves out at the end of the 2018-19 school year?
– How do we do our fair share – and not everyone else’s fair-share too – to support our city’s efforts to address homelessness?
– If ODOT adds a lane on I-205 from Foster to Powell, how does the LNA get them to commit to environmental and noise mitigation to ensure a decrease in impact on the community?
– How do we ensure the parks bureau continues to invest in fulfilling the Lents Park Master Plan and also makes appropriate improvements to Bloomington, Glenwood, Playhaven and Benedict parks?

These are big issues. These are too much for one person to take on. The only way Lents avoids getting steamrolled by city hall – and well-connected and powerful people in inner-Portland – on these topics is to work together. That means some folks are going to need to put on their grown-up pants and get over petty disagreements. They’re going to need to meet people where they are at, not where they want them to be. For the sake of our community, I hope everyone constructively agrees to work on these issues, and if they disagree with the direction that the LNA has chosen to take, they find a way to get involved in the process themselves (or decide to get out of the way) rather than just constantly trying to take down the LNA because they disagree with it.”