Portland mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone on Monday released more than a dozen endorsements for her campaign from Black Portlanders, headlined by former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith.
"The road ahead requires a visionary leader who can bring people together to ensure that we build our city back better than it was before COVID-19," said Smith, who finished second this summer in a crowded race for Portland City Council. "From her plans to aggressively tackle police reform to her commitment to developing housing that is truly affordable, Sarah is the leader Portland needs to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive—regardless of their ZIP code."
The endorsements come as Iannarone seeks to overtake incumbent Mayor Ted Wheeler. Wheeler doubled Iannarone's vote total in the primary, but his campaign has struggled this summer amid four months of protests against police violence.
But Iannarone is also dealing with a write-in campaign by supporters of Black activist Teressa Raiford. The endorsements by Black leaders, at a moment when racial justice carries unmatched significance in this city's politics, could boost Iannarone on both fronts as she seeks to unite progressives.
Several of the 14 endorsements—including from entrepreneur Stephen Green and social justice activist Cameron Whitten—previously praised Iannarone in WW's cover profile of her last week.
"Her deep roots in Portland's small business community will give City Hall a boost," Green said Monday, "in helping the city to support local firms to not only navigate the pandemic but to also become more resilient after it is over."
Iannarone's campaign director, Gregory McKelvey, is a Black Lives Matter organizer who played a prominent role in 2016 street protests following the election of President Donald Trump.
"It was unprecedented for a viable candidate for Portland mayor to select someone known primarily as a Black Lives Matter activist to run such a prominent campaign," McKelvey said. "Sarah did so long before the current uprising because she is committed to ensuring that Black lives matter in our community and that the common-sense progress Portlanders are demanding becomes a reality."