Felicia Williams pulled the plug on an attempt to juggle a City Council race while extending her term as president of the inner Westside coalition of neighborhood associations.
At last month’s Neighbors West/Northwest board meeting, Williams announced, “This is fun, but I’ve joined the fight club.”
If forsaking her coalition role to run for elective office represents entry into the realm of real conflict, historic political drama may be in the offing. She had a way of stirring the pot not seen before at the neighborhood coalition.
Williams went after the Goose Hollow Foothills League soon after assuming the presidency in 2016, threatening to expel the association from the coalition and then proposing bylaw amendments that would have allowed such expulsion by majority vote instead of unanimity.
After that proposed bylaw amendment met resistance and was modified to require a two-thirds majority, Williams took her case against GHFL to the Portland City Council, writing a letter castigating the neighborhood association for obstructing plans to increase height allowances in the Central City 2035 Plan. She accused GHFL board members of having “an ax to grind and financial interest in protecting the views from their condos.”
Her letter was later printed in the Portland Tribune.
She named two individuals among the “bad actors” in her screed, including GHFL President Michael Mehaffy. She wasn’t careful about accuracy. Mehaffy is a renter whose apartment has no views that could be affected by the plan, and other board members say none of them fit Williams’ characterization as “protecting the view from their condos.”
Another issue with Williams’ letter was the lack of authorization from the coalition board. A NWNW duty of loyalty policy requires that directors clarify that they are stating a personal opinion when making public statements not reflecting board positions or policies.
In the letter, Williams identified herself as the president of Neighbors West/Northwest and the Downtown Neighborhood Association. She told coalition board members that the affiliations were erroneously attached when it was printed by the Portland Tribune.
However, an email exchange with the Tribune confirms that she used those titles in her letter to City Hall and later approved publication of that letter in the newspaper.
“She brazenly lied about this,” Mehaffy said upon learning her alibi was invalid.
At the November coalition meeting at which Williams ended her term as president, she warned incoming President Hilary Mackenzie, “You’ll get the tail end of character assassinations against you.”
Mackenzie would not comment for the record when asked by the NW Examiner if she would address Williams’ conduct in light of coalition policy and bylaws.
“I don’t want to look backward,” she said. n