March 9th, 2010 5:33 pm | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, Politics

Novick Now NOT to Run for County Chair (UPDATED with Novick changing his mind)


UPDATED at 2:30 pm:

In what may be a new record for the shortest local campaign ever, Steve Novick, longtime Oregon political maverick and unsuccessful 2008 Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, now says he's not running for Multnomah County chairman.

Novick said this afternoon — six hours after announcing he would be in the race — that he's now decided after talking with Jeff Cogen (who announced earlier this morning he would run for chair) and former county Chair Bev Stein that now's not his time.

"This is not going to do anything for my reputation for political decisiveness," Novick said. "I think this is Jeff Cogen's job and this is his time frankly."

Here's what we wrote earlier today when Novick said he was running:

Novick worked as a senior policy adviser to former Multnomah County Chairwoman Diane Linn in 2001 and 2002. And his résumé also includes stints as caucus administrator for Oregon's Senate Democrats; and legislative coordinator for the Oregon Department of Education. He took a prominent role in the recent successful campaigns to pass Measures 66 and 67 in Oregon. He was raised in Cottage Grove, and entered the University of Oregon at 14. He entered Harvard Law School at 18, and worked at big law firms after graduation in San Francisco and New York before going to the U.S. Justice Department.

All that experience adds up, Novick said this morning, to a winning hand for a county chair's job that he called "impossible" after the passage of Measures 5 and 47.

Asked why he'd want a job he described as "impossible," Novick responded, "Somebody's got to do it. It's largely about making the case for public services and doing the best job with the resources you have."

"We need to shine a light on what we've lost in the last 20 years," Novick said. "I don't think people understand the impacts of 5 and 47. Measures 66 and 67 were great but we need to explain to people what's missing."

He said the chair's job will become that much harder if there's not another round of federal stimulus. "I'm in the best position to yell and scream at our congressional delegation" to make sure that money doesn't dry up, Novick said. "I know them better and my voice is louder."

Novick also floated one interesting idea. With the caveat that he'd need to discuss the concept with law enforcement first, Novick said the criminal justice system would benefit if prosecutors and police had a system in place that rated them on recidivism rates. "I will tell the law enforcement people I'll fight like hell for more resources," he said. "But I'd like them to work with the rest of us to make sure the resources are used as effectively as possible."

He returned to Oregon in 1996, working as issues director for Democrat Tom Bruggere, who ran unsuccessfully that same year against Smith.

In addition to working in 2000 and 2006 against ballot measures pushed by Bill Sizemore and Don McIntire, Novick also worked on Ted Kulongoski's successful 2002 run for governor.
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