Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz has endorsed former legislator Jo Ann Hardesty in the race for an open seat on City Council.

It's a fairly rare move in Portland for a sitting city commissioner to endorse for an open seat, where the winner of the race will join the five-member council.

But now Hardesty has the endorsement of both women currently sitting on the council: Fritz and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who endorsed earlier this year. (The other commissioners, Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioner Nick Fish—as well as the departing commissioner whose seat is coming open, Dan Saltzman—are not expected to endorse in the race.)

Fritz cited Hardesty's policy positions, including on publicly funded elections and other issues, as well as a style of leadership.

"Jo Ann has been a staunch proponent of Open and Accountable Elections, police accountability, and equity for East Portland—all priority issues for me," Fritz tells WW via email. "She has demonstrated her capacity to listen, learn from mistakes, and collaborate. She has earned my endorsement, over many years of advocacy for and service to Portland's communities."

Hardesty faces County Commissioner Loretta Smith in the November election to replace Saltzman, who is retiring after five terms.

"Portlanders are looking for real leadership to solve our city's toughest problems, like housing, police reform and climate change," Hardesty said in a statement. "I'm excited that together with my colleagues we can get our city back on track and know that as a team we can achieve what's needed. […] I'm looking forward to working with all my colleagues—and I'm grateful for the early support of both Commissioner Eudaly and Fritz who I will be working with closely to plan for my arrival on Council in January."

A victory by Hardesty could re-shape the Council—at least to the extent the three women align on policy issues and vote as a bloc, including on the issues Fritz mentions.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (center) the Northwest Oregon Labor Council AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic at Oaks Park. (Justin Katigbak)
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (center) the Northwest Oregon Labor Council AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic at Oaks Park. (Justin Katigbak)

This represents an opportunity, especially for Fritz, who has been sidelined by Wheeler, who reassigned two key bureaus, both Parks and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, away from Fritz.

It's also clear that on some issues there isn't a natural alliance. Fritz and Eudaly don't vote together on some issues—including tenant rights, where Fritz has pushed the council to moderate Eudaly's reforms.