City Commissioner Nick Fish today announced that the cancer he's been battling since 2017 will force him to resign in 2020.
"Last month, I shared that my illness had become more complicated and that I would be taking a few weeks over the holidays to be with my family and to learn more about what changes in my health mean for my public service," Fish said in a statement Dec. 31.
"Since then, I have been talking to my team of care providers and adjusting to my new reality. I have always brought energy and enthusiasm to my job as Commissioner. Serving on the Council has been the great honor of my life. Based on the demands of my illness, however, I no longer believe that I can do this work at the high level our community deserves and I expect of myself."
Fish, 61, who worked as a lawyer before joining the council, has taken delight in his job in a way that few others have, relishing the minutiae of city code, the endless council sessions and even the rubber chicken banquets that many politicians dread.
"I cannot escape the very sad fact that I will be unable to serve out the remainder of my term," Fish said today. "I trust my Council colleagues to determine the most appropriate date for an election to select my successor, minimizing disruption and cost to the City. My resignation will become effective upon the election of my successor as Commissioner #2."
That decision makes it likely, although not certain, that Fish's seat will be on the ballot in May 2020, when Commisioner Chloe Eudaly is up for re-election and a handful of candidates will compete to replace Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who is retiring.
"Over the next few months, I will be working with Mayor Wheeler and my City Hall team to prepare for a transition," Fish said. "Such a transition has precedent; in fact, it's the way I myself got the chance to run and get elected to the Council in 2008."
In that instance, former City Commissioner Erik Sten stepped down mid-term. Fish, who had come up short in two previous runs for council, easily won Sten's seat and has served without serious opposition ever since.
"I am grateful for the support and love my family and I have felt over the last two and a half years that I have fought against cancer," Fish concluded. "And I am privileged to have had the opportunity to serve the community I love for the past decade. Thank you for allowing me this honor, and for all that you do to make Portland special. The future is bright—Nick."