Portland City Council Candidate Was Arrested Four Years Ago for DUII

Andrea Valderrama, who is running for Commissioner Dan Saltzman's seat, told police she was the designated driver in a 2013 incident.

At 28, Andrea Valderrama, a mayoral staffer to Mayor Ted Wheeler, will have to prove she's wise beyond her years to win City Council office.

She's been a David Douglas school board member since she was appointed last year. Before the mayor's office, she worked as a staffer to former City Commissioner Steve Novick.

But she also nearly had a record of a different sort.

Early in Valderrama's time working at City Hall, she was was arrested for driving under the influence, failing a sobriety test and a breathalyzer test.

She told police officers she was the designated driver for her three friends in the car with her.

Valderrama is running for the seat being vacated by City Commissioner Dan Saltzman next year.

Four years ago, on Friday, Nov. 27, 2013, at 11:17 pm, Valderrama was pulled over for speeding — driving 58 mph in a 35 mph zone on Southeast Grand Avenue, according to a police report obtained by WW.

Valderrama told the police officer that she was the designated driver for the three passengers in the car and repeatedly denied that she had been drinking, according to the police report.

At 12:47 a.m., an hour and a half after being pulled over, she agreed to a Breathalyzer and measured .14 percent blood alcohol content; .08 is the legal limit.

Valderrama, whom the police report says is  5'2" and weighs 115 pounds, ultimately told the cops she'd had two beers with a dinner of steak and fries.

She entered a diversion program for the arrest, though court records and the police report remain available.

Valderrama tells WW it was a one-time mistake, and her driving record show no other arrests.

"While the charge was ultimately dismissed, and I am forever grateful that it did not result in an accident or an injury to anyone, that doesn't change the fact that I made a terrible decision by getting behind the wheel after drinking," she says. "It was a stark lesson learned. I'd never done something like it before, haven't since and never will again."

It remains to be seen whether that failure of judgment will become an issue in the race.

Earlier this month, former mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith was forced out of a job because of concerns about his past behavior. He'd recently accepted the post of leading the Oregon Center for Public Policy, but objections about his record of punching a woman in college ultimately forced him out in the midst of the #MeToo movement.

Some argue there is less tolerance for misconduct more generally in Portland—including Valderrama's four-year-old arrest.

"In a town where Jefferson Smith has been hounded out of office for his past indiscretion, the odds are good she's going to face close scrutiny for it," says Jim Moore, director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation at Pacific University. "People are looking for candidates that don't have some kind of blot on their record."

Oregon Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-East Portland), who has endorsed Valderrama, says that he thinks people will forgive a lapse.

"The mark of a person is how they respond when they make a mistake," he says. "She's shown remorse…. She's taken responsibility."