Wearing a suit and tie instead of his uniform, Portland Police Bureau Chief Mike Reese confirmed to WW
in an interview at police headquarters this morning that he's putting plans in place to run for mayor in the current election cycle.
He told WW
he expects to make a decision within a "couple weeks." Reese's statements today confirm WW
's report last night
that the chief, appointed by Mayor Sam Adams in 2010 to replace then-Chief Rosie Sizer, was considering a run.
"Our community is facing really significant challenges in the next couple of years. We're going to need strong, effective leadership to provide a positive path forward," Reese says. "I've run a large, complex organization with 1,200 employees."
Reese, 54, declined to say whether he'd spoken to former Chief and Mayor Tom Potter, who earlier this week endorsed
New Seasons Market co-founder Eileen Brady in the mayoral race.
Besides Brady, Reese would face former City Commissioner Charlie Hales and State Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland). A recent poll reported online
and in today's print edition of WW
found 22 percent of voters surveyed would support any other credible candidate over Hales, Brady or Smith.
Reese, who joined the Multnomah County Sheriff's office in 1989, sponsored a 1993 ballot measure to combined the sheriff's office and the police bureau. It failed. The following year, Reese transferred to the police bureau.
He has not run for office before, but his name was floated by an important political ally (and part-time bandmate), City Commissioner Randy Leonard, as a candidate for sheriff.
"It is not possible for there to be a better candidate for sheriff than Mike Reese," Leonard told WW
in 2009, at a time when the occupancy of the sheriff's office was in doubt. "He is what this community wants."
It's another question whether Reese would be what Portlanders want in a mayor. Reese's brief tenure as chief has overlapped with a series of damaging incidents involving officers on- and off-duty, including drunk driving
and domestic violence
. And it was only this summer that the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division opened an inquiry
into whether the police bureau has engaged in a "pattern or practice" of civil rights violations, focusing on officers' interactions with minorities and the mentally ill.
"Personnel issues are very difficult for us. You have to balance what's right for the individual, the bureau and the community," Reese says. "Those have been my most difficult decisions as chief."
Currently, the bureau is near the center of one of the biggest and most divisive stories in the country, the Occupy protests.
Reese says he's proud the bureau's handling of the protests. "We've done a very good job," he says. "I'm very proud of how we've responded."
Asked about comments made earlier this week
by Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner that a double-standard was at work with officers enforcing anti-camping laws in some Portland parks but not others, Reese said the policy
was set by Mayor Adams and the rest of the City Council.
He declined to say whether, as mayor, he would've handled the Occupy Portland encampments
Reese says he hasn't "reached out" to PPA president Turner to assess union support of his possible candidacy because it would be inappropriate.
As for Mayor Adams, Reese says he was surprised to learn that he wouldn't be running again.
"I would be one of his biggest supporters," Reese says of Adams.
Reese and his wife Cindy attend downtown Portland's First Christian Church, a moderate progressive congregation. They share a $526,000 home in Southwest Portland's Hayhurst neighborhood. Public records show he has failed to vote in 8 of 26 elections since 2000, including Democratic Party primaries in 2000, 2004 and 2010.
Asked about the gaps in his voting record, Reese said, "I'm not a candidate so I don't have any response to that."— Corey Pein and Nigel Jaquiss