Democracy must be accessible.
Open and fair access to government is a fundamental value of our community – and our country.
Open and fair access means people have the right to petition their leaders for change, and it means that anyone can step forward and seek to to serve.
One of the candidates for City Commissioner, Position #2 is Philip Wolfe. He has served on important City advisory bodies, he is an active and engaged community member, and he is Deaf.
Last month we attended a candidate forum together. Despite knowing well in advance that Philip needed an accommodation, the organizers of the forum did not arrange for American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting services to ensure that Philip could understand the questions being asked of him and the audience could understand his answers.
This was unfair to Philip and to his supporters in the Deaf community. And it was inconsistent with Portland values and our expectations for an open and accessible democratic process.
Moving forward, I will not participate in any candidate forums which do not provide for qualified and certified professional ASL interpretation services necessary to allow Philip and the Deaf community to fully and fairly participate in this race.
Tonight I’m excited to join the candidates for position 2 at Main Street Alliance Oregon Action Fund’s fully accessible candidate forum at Seahorses PDX .
Here’s my response to Nick Fish’s public statement. I copied and pasted here…
Nick, in the green circle is my response, is it Democracy? I beg to differ. No it is not since this is not a fair, transparent and accessible race for the Elections. My campaign is an interview with the people for employment to serve them-your seat. Since it is not accessible, this is employment discrimination against a person with a disability. Please allow me to elaborate more about that.
Black circle: ASL interpreters are not doing this job to “help me understand…” their job is to facilitate communication access which is for everybody to communicate, not just for me. Everything that is heard and seen in the room, not just questions, is important information.
Blue circle: I must point out that it is unfair and oppressive against me, our Deaf community and the community at large.
Red circle: Nick, I was there yesterday at the Black Voices United forum. After being confronted aggressively by the host of the event, then you arrived. I then showed you the note the host wrote when I was verbally assaulted, as she was yelling visibly upset but knowing I could not understand her. You did not show any concern and told me that you had friends/family you are hurrying to meet at the front of the stage. You didn’t even wait for my response. You showed no empathy or compassion for my safety and concerns. Nor for the fact that I informed you about the lack of access which you had promised to enforce by leaving debates/forums when no interpreters were present.
I was shocked, hurt and confused after the fact that you publicly state that I’m your friend at the Debate event. And the fact that you publicly announce your intentions to not show up in any forums that are not accessible. You and Julia DeGraw sat comfortably through the entire Black Voices United forum knowing full well the fact that it was not accessible. You lied to me. You lied to the public. This proved my statement about my campaign being tokenized. You as a former civil right attorney, you allowed me to be discriminated by the forum, you violated the ethics and civic duty especially when you ran the office for a long time now. This truly concerns me. This truly affects me, my campaign, my work and my life. You are a politician. Not a friend. Your actions affects the public. The public deserves to know the truth because I will not allow anyone to exploit my campaign, my work and my commitment for change a better future Portland.