Although ballots are still being counted from the May 19 primary, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty wasted no time in expressing her preference in the special election to replace the late Commissioner Nick Fish.
Hardesty's political action committee, Rise Together, this morning issued a strong endorsement of Dan Ryan, the former executive director of the educational nonprofit All Hands Raised, who came in second in Tuesday's primary.
"Dan Ryan's incredible record of community service puts him head and shoulders above the field. His service as chair of the Portland Public School Board and as CEO of All Hands Raised helped raise Portland's graduation rates, particularly for students of color," Hardesty said in the endorsement. "He's a bridge builder who reaches out to people even if they disagree on how to forge a common agenda for progress. Dan Ryan is a pragmatic progressive, and I'm excited to work with him to bring new voices to the table to solve our city's priorities. He has my full support, and I hope he has yours too."
Former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith took the most votes in a crowded field of candidates seeking to replace Fish. Smith captured 18.82 percent of the vote, outdistancing Ryan, who got 16.63 percent.
The two will now meet in a runoff. But unlike in the runoffs featuring Mayor Ted Wheeler and challenger Sarah Iannarone and incumbent Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and challenger Mingus Mapps, which will appear on the November general election ballot, Smith and Ryan will compete in an Aug. 11 special election in which they will be the only candidates.
That's because Fish's seat has been empty since December, when he took leave for the cancer that claimed his life Jan. 2. That's left the five-member council shorthanded. The special election will allow the winner to go to work right away, rather than waiting until January as will the candidates elected in November.
Hardesty and Smith have some history. They ran against each other in 2018 for the City Council seat of retiring City Commissioner Dan Saltzman. It was a contentious race, with Hardesty running to Smith's left and winning easily, becoming the first black woman to serve on the City Council.
Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment.