Commissioner Sam Adams and Charles Lewis, the man who wants to replace him on City Council, have much in common.
Both were born in Montana to financially struggling families. Both eventually settled in Oregon, and went to college here (Adams at University of Oregon, Lewis at University of Portland). And both began their Portland public service careers working for then-Mayor Vera Katz: Adams as her chief of staff for more than a decade and Lewis as an intern for three months during that period.
And they even worked together a second time. In 2004, Lewis joined Adams' successful council campaign, helping to create candidate Adams' first website.
But that was then.
Last Friday, July 13, Lewis was on City Hall's steps at 8 am, waiting for the doors to open on the first day of candidate registration for the council election 10 months from now.
Lewis, still blurry-eyed from spending the night on a park bench across from City Hall to highlight homeless issues, called Adams out for not leveling with voters about his future.
"If he had declared three months ago, I wouldn't be in the race," said Lewis, executive director and CEO of Ethos Music School, a nonprofit after-school program in North Portland.
Adams doesn't plan to announce a decision about running for re-election until the end of 2007 but is expected to run for mayor if Mayor Tom Potter decides this September not to seek a second term.
Lewis' early-bird filing for the May election was his latest media-friendly event, coming two days after he held a press conference in front of his Northeast Portland home to blast Adams for exploring gas tax hike proposals (see wweek.com/wwire/?p=8401). And that illustrates one other trait the two share: a penchant for media exposure.
Not to be outdone, Adams—the commissioner in charge of transportation—will attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, July 19, along a newly paved stretch of Northeast Sandy Boulevard in the Hollywood District. The next day, he'll be the featured speaker at City Club.
Lewis is confident he's running for what will be an open council seat. If that's the case, filing now gives him a jump on other potential candidates seeking to qualify for public campaign financing.
Lewis will seek to qualify for public campaign funds. Adams says he won't seek public financing for re-election as commissioner, since he helped approve the rules as a council member.
"If any other race became available, I wouldn't rule it out," Adams says.
As a City Council member, Adams helped Lewis' Ethos secure a $1 million Meyer Memorial Fund loan for its new headquarters. The deal fell through when Ethos failed to secure additional federal funding, and Ethos returned the Meyer loan before it could be used. But Lewis acknowledges Adams' and the City Council's help with the project.
Asked if he views his ex-supporter's candidacy as a betrayal, Adams says, "It comes with the territory."