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May 26th, 2004 The Nose | The Nose
 

Hey! Who's this Potter guy, anyway?

     
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Tom Potter
IMAGE: WYDNE DYER
Last week Tom Potter stomped on Jim Francesconi like he was a snitch at a Harley rally. Given that Francesconi is one of those guys who always looks like his skivvies are about three sizes too small, it's hard to judge just how bad a blow this was, but after the city commissioner finished second in the mayoral sweepstakes, his expression was even more pained than usual.

Now, the Nose believes in the sanctity of the secret ballot, but he will confess that he did not cast his vote for Francesconi. Which is why he was surprised by the lack of joy he felt when he saw Potter's smiling mug on the late news, talking confidently about his chances in his fall face-off with Francesconi.

Potter, a grandfatherly ex-police chief, was a last-minute entry whose campaign became best-known for what it didn't do--accept contributions over $25.

As chief, he supported something called "community policing," which sounds great but may have simply been a clever way to get more money for the Police Bureau. More recently, he came out in support of gay marriage, which ought to make his daughter, who is a lesbian, proud, but has nothing to do with job of running the city.

What were his plans for redeveloping the west end of downtown? What did he think about the rising sewer rates? Should the tribes be allowed to set up a casino in Portland? And, most important, does he support the idea of letting cops shoot off-leash dogs?

If Potter has detailed his opinions on those matters, the Nose has missed them. Instead, the Nose has heard all about Francesconi's $1 million in campaign contributions, and how a lot of them came from people who need favors from City Hall, where he has served as a city commissioner since 1998. He's read about Francesconi's waffling on the war and his inability to take decisive action on controversial matters. He's been reminded of the commissioner's lack of accomplishments on the City Council.

In short, the Nose had plenty of reasons to vote against a frontrunner who, we were told, was going to be mayor anyway. A vote for Potter (or James Posey, Phil Busse or Extremo the Clown, for that matter) was simply a way to protest and delay the inevitable. On Tuesday night, however, Potter stunned the experts by getting the most votes and coming within a few percentage points of avoiding a runoff and being the mayor-elect.

It was, as many have noted, kind of like 20 years ago, when a bartender named Bud Clark ran against Mayor Frank Ivancie. Everyone knew that Ivancie was going to win re-election, so the press corps focused on Clark's quirks--his love of bikes, beer and non-motorized watercraft. Next thing we knew, Bud was "whoop-whoop"ing his way into the mayor's office.

During his two terms in office, Mayor Clark did OK, so maybe the Nose shouldn't be so worried. But still, he hopes that during the next five months he can figure out just who this Potter guy is--rather than being so preoccupied with who he isn't.

 
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