Charles McGee, co-founder of the nonprofit Black Parent Initiative, won't challenge Portland Commissioner Steve Novick for his seat on the Portland City Council.

McGee's announcement today could mean Novick won't face a significant challenge in 2016, despite a series of missteps in Novick's first term that soured many voters, including his on-again-off-again street fee.

Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith is mulling a run against Novick, but her chief of staff says it's "unlikely" she'll jump in.

As of Thursday, only two people had filed paperwork with the city to run against Novick. The two are Michael Durrow, a perennial candidate who recently won a seat on the board of the Multnomah Education Service District, and Joseph Puckett, a kitchen manager and cook with Nick's Famous Coney Island.

Here's McGee's announcement:

Dear Friends:

I'll never forget arriving in this amazing community for the first time. I had traveled a long distance – from Liberia to Portland – and I often reflect on how fortunate I am that my family chose this place as our new home.

From my first days in Portland, I've been focused on following a career path that improves people lives. Recently, I've talked with many of you about the best way to continue on this path in the future.

In talking with you about the best way to continue serving the community I love, I've heard a lot about the challenges that are posing a serious threat to our future quality of life. Challenges like rising homelessness, skyrocketing housing prices, and the lack of good-paying jobs – especially in communities of color.

But along with these formidable challenges, I've also heard a lot about hope – a hope based on the fact that we live in a very special place. At our core, Portlanders are committed to furthering opportunities for everyone. At our best, we are a community where nothing is impossible. That's why I love this place so much.

Throughout my career I've done my best to make sure the community we love maintains a great quality of life for generations to come. For me that means good jobs at all levels, a sustainable built and lived environment, and strong vibrant communities where everyone has the opportunity to build a bright future for themselves and their families.

So how best to keep working toward these goals?

After months of reflection, conversation with family, friends and mentors, my wife and I have decided that now is not the time to run for public office. I remain committed to continuing the important work of the Black Parent Initiative. I'll keep fighting to ensure that Black children in our community and the parents who rear them have a chance. We recently released our end of the year report – feel free to check it out at

I want to thank everyone who has met with me over the last few months. Your words of encouragement, thoughtfulness, and commitment to the future of our community is inspiring and ensures that our future will, indeed, be a bright one.

In gratitude,


Portland has had only two black commissioners in city history.