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Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Oregon Politics: The Race for Mayor, Education, Ducks

Friday, January 09, 2015


Every Friday, GoLocalPDX breaks down who's rising and who's falling in the world of Oregon politics. Check out who made the lists this week.


The Race for Portland Mayor

It is still18 months until the Mayoral race but the chips may already be falling into place. There is not a hint that incumbent Mayor Charlie Hales might step down. Despite that others seem to be laying the groundwork for a race, whether or not they face Hizhonor. Not since 1984 has an incumbent Mayor been defeated, when an affable bar keep waged a stealth attack. In the Internet age, there's no way to replicate that approach.

Who might be lining up? City Commissioners Nick Fish and Dan Saltzman have each been biding their time and letting someone else remain center stage. Both would be able to retain their seats if they ran. Commissioner Amanda Fritz was long expected to walk away after her term ends in two years. This year she lost her husband and saw the issue she's been championing (parks funding) win by a wide margin. She no longer seems content to walk away. Recently retired Police Chief Mike Reese considered running against Hales last time around. Last week on OPB Reese wouldn't rule out a run for office. 

Pass the popcorn folks. This could be a fun year.

Biz Prom

Business took center stage this week at the annual Oregon Business Summit. Basically it's the Business Prom. US Senator Ron Wyden is the Principal. John Carter is the Homecoming King. Instead of boys on one side of the room and girls on the other, its politicos and the business elite. They get up and dance with each other occasionally but then sit back in their corners and talk about each other. Most people got to dance sooner or later. Except Steve Novick. Nobody asked him to dance. 

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

When nearly 100 Hands Up, Don’t Shoot protestors stormed his town hall meeting last weekend, Oregon’s Senior Senator and his staff handled the disruption with respect and grace. He offered to both listen to the activists and later meet with them. While they paused for a veteran to be honored, as soon as he was done, they continued their protest, forcing an early end to the meeting. They didn’t just want their time, but they prohibited others from having their voices heard. They walked in the room intent on finding a shark to jump and looks like they succeeded.

Albina Ministerial Alliance

In stark contrast to the weekend protest, when a much smaller police reform group, led by Portland’s African American ministers, rallied at City Hall this week, they had a clear objective. They were loud but respectful and they were heard. Then they went home. The issue? Ensuring a federal judge remains his authority to oversee a federal settlement on police accountability. The Albina Ministerial Alliance’s approach may not lead to change overnight, but unlike the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot contingent, they have a track record of success.

Oregon Ducks

Of course they’re hot.  The Ducks trounced the reigning National Champions and head into their own Championship game next week. After the game several Oregon Ducks players chanted “no means no” as a dig at their opponents quarterback, an accused rapist. They also mimicked their opponent’s racist tomahawk chop.  The players involved faced an undisclosed penalty. Apparently speaking out against rape is unsportsmanlike. Hm. If I had a national audience and just one moment, I cannot imagine a better cause. Good for them.


Cylvia. Yes, Ms. Hayes. Again.

I like Oregon’s First Lady Cylvia Hayes. She has never said a bad word to me (nor, as far as I know, about me). Four weeks into my writing of this column, I’ve felt it important to include her three times. Why? The news just keeps coming. If you ever hear someone suggest that journalism is dying, just know how this story has been dealt with ensures the trade will continue forevermore. 

Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick

While the First Lady remains in the column, it’s based on a slow release of information and, frankly, I feel bad about it. On the other hand, City Commissioner Steve Novick is here week after week because of new foibles. This week? He had to give up on his latest street tax in favor of a public advisory vote spearheaded by the Mayor since he was unable to get a third vote in support of any plan. 

Additionally, Novick is finally trying to get his transportation bureau to consider new taxi cab licenses. A day late and a dollar short would be a nice way to put it. Maybe he thinks this will stall Uber? The last time a Commissioner fumbled a bureau half as bad as Novick has fumbled Transportation, the Mayor took the bureau back.  Hint hint.

Oregon Education Association

The Oregon Education Association is a powerhouse in Oregon’s political arena. With just shy of 50,000 members, they are able to collect a lot of pennies that add up to ginormous political contributions to Democratic candidates. Nearly seven years into a new state accounting system for campaign spending, OEA found during that time they’d misreported over a quarter of a million dollars in donations during that time. Perhaps they can find a math teacher willing to be their treasurer?

Dean Marriot

Dean Marriot has thumbed his nose his city of Portland bosses for the last time. With over 20 years in command of the city’s sewer agency, he had a contract that prohibited his firing, despite missteps that have cost taxpayers millions of dollars. He finally quit, agreeing to a hefty settlement that city leaders were wisely quick to downplay.  My only disappointment is that I cannot find the right toilet joke to use. What a crappy way to end the week.

Jesse is an East Portland resident, political junkie, snowboard fanatic, and former pub owner.


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