After repeatedly insisting that he would run for reelection in the face of significant competition, Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman announced today he will retire.
Saltzman, who has served he was first elected since 1998, says he has achieved what he set out to on Council.
"I have enjoyed the myriad duties of City Commissioner, and I am very proud of my accomplishments and the relationships I have built while achieving them," Saltzman said in a statement. "But with respect to things I am passionate about, the items on my "to do" list largely have check marks next to them."
Jo Ann Hardesty, a former legislator who head the NAACP of Portland, has already filed to run for Saltzman's spot. Last month, she visited his office, asking him to retire and endorse her.
"I think it's respectful to say eyeball to eyeball, 'I'm here to take you out. You can go peacefully. Or you can go kicking and screaming," she told WW. "I think the city is ready for new leadership."
Saltzman has not endorsed Hardesty or anyone else.
Hardesty says she believes she intimidated Saltzman out of the race.
"Yes, I think he has not had a difficult race since 18 years ago," says Hardesty. "I think everything is telling him this would be a tough race, and he had a good chance of losing."
Hardesty says she expects others to eye the seat now, but "we're so far ahead of the game that they'll have a hard time catching up," she says.
County Commissioner Loretta Smith's name has been floated as a possible contender as well, but she can't officially enter the race until January, if she wants to keep her seat on the county commission.
Here is Saltzman's full statement.
Serving my community as a commissioner at Multnomah County and the City of Portland has been both the privilege and the honor of my life, and I am proud of the many accomplishmentswe have achieved together over the last 25 years. After deep reflection, I have decided not to file for election to a sixth term as Portland City Commissioner. I explain my reasons at greater length in the statement below. STATEMENT FROM DAN SALTZMAN REGARDING THE 2018 ELECTION FOR CITY COMMISSIONER As I have been talking to community members about campaigning for another term as City Commissioner, I have been humbled by the deep support and encouragement I have received. Indeed, that support has far exceeded what I have experienced in any of my past races. I believe that is because of progress made together on so many issues that have a real impact on the people and community we all care so much about. Just a few of these accomplishments include: • The initial passage and two subsequent renewals of the Portland Children’s Levy, which has over the past 15 years improved the lives of thousands of kids and families.
• Passage of Portland’s first Affordable Housing Bond and leading an unprecedented response to Portland’s affordable housing crisis as Housing Commissioner. We made record investments, reforms and commitments that will result in thousands of units of desperately needed new homes.
• The opening of the Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services, a one-stop resource for survivors of domestic violence. I was also proud to have led new initiatives for combatting gang violence and the continuing effort to improve police accountability.
• Improvements to fire and ambulance services that will save money and lives.
• Reordering transportation priorities to focus on the basics, including accelerating the repair of potholes and other damage done by the winter storms of 2017.
• Delivering the Big Pipe on-time and on-budget, fixing the Water Bureau billing system and reforming the Fire &Police Disability and Retirement system.
• Always pursuing these and other goals with a sharp eye on protecting taxpayer’s dollars, while striving to make Portland a more just, equitable, sustainable place that provides opportunity for all. Over the last few weeks I have reflected on that record of nearly 25 years of public service as a commissioner at Multnomah County and at the City of Portland. As satisfying as it might be to look back at accomplishments, what really counts is what comes next. That reflection has led me to the conclusion that I can have the greatest impact on the issues that truly motivate me outside of City Hall. I have enjoyed the myriad duties of City Commissioner, and I am very proud of my accomplishments and the relationships I have built while achieving them. But with respect to things I am passionate about, the items on my “to do” list largely have check marks next to them. Meanwhile, there is much more I wish to do in areas such as child welfare, foster care and domestic violence. I have come to the conclusion that I can accomplish more on those issues if they become my primary focus, instead of their having to share my attention. And I would enjoy working on those causes in a less scheduled life. Therefore, I will not file for a sixth term as City Commissioner and will complete my term at the end of 2018. I will also lead the renewal of the Portland Children’s Levy in 2018. It is my hope that an open seat will encourage a number of people to consider running: this is a great opportunity for a new generation of leadership in City Hall. I want to deeply thank all my staff members, supporters and community members that I have had the privilege of working with over these many years. I eagerly look forward to continuing to work together as we strive to make Portland an even greater place for all the people who share it – today and tomorrow.