Portland voters will get a real mayoral race after all.
Incumbent Mayor Charlie Hales announced last month he wouldn't seek re-election, apparently clearing a path to City Hall for Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler.
But now it appears Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey will enter the race. He says he will make an announcement shortly after Jan. 1, 2016.
"Portland is a progressive town, and we need a progressive mayor," Bailey tells WW. "I want to be the candidate for people that have to work for a living, not for those that don't."
Bailey, 36, could make a formidable candidate. He's a Portland native who, like Wheeler, graduated from Lincoln High School. Bailey graduated from Lewis & Clark College and earned a master's degree in public affairs and planning from Princeton University.
Bailey won a legislative seat in Southeast Portland in 2008, when he was 29, and served three terms in the Oregon House. In three full sessions in Salem, he built a reputation as a savvy lawmaker, chairing the House Energy and Environment Committee in 2013. He regularly scored near the top of WW's "Good, Bad & Awful" survey of metro-area lawmakers, ranking third among House members in 2013.
Bailey was elected to the county commission in 2014 to serve the balance of former Commissioner Deborah Kafoury's term after she was sworn in as county chairwoman.
Bailey, who tells WW he has been recruited in part by organized labor, says his priorities will be affordable housing, environmental sustainability, jobs and homelessness—an issue where he accuses Wheeler of peddling simplistic solutions.
Bailey's entry into the mayor's race is a bit complicated. Multnomah County rules say he must resign his commission seat if he announces his candidacy for mayor before the final year of his term, which is 2016.
That means Bailey will not officially enter the mayoral race until January. His likely decision not to run for re-election as commissioner means that his District 1 seat, which covers the westside of Portland and part of the inner eastside south of I-84, will be up for grabs.
Bailey says he expects to hire political consultant Stacey Dycus to manage his campaign—and in a nod to a tactic that has become increasingly popular in Portland campaigns, he says he will limit contributions to $250 per donor.
"People who care about this city need a debate," Bailey says. "One candidate running is not good for the city of Portland."