Total Recall PDX, the campaign intent on recalling Mayor Ted Wheeler, filed its petition with the City Auditor’s Office on July 1. The campaign will begin gathering signatures July 9. It needs just under 48,000 valid signatures to place a recall before voters on a ballot.
Hours before filing its paperwork with the city, the campaign announced its chief petitioner. It’s not a household name: The chief petitioner is a George Middle School library employee named Melissa Blount, who, according to the campaign, “was compelled to file the recall after seeing Wheeler’s policies’ effect on Portland’s residents, particularly young people.”
The announcement said Blount would reroute any press questions to the campaign as a whole: “Blount requests that any questions about the recall are directed to the Recall Wheeler campaign.”
The press release revealing Blount’s name arrived hours after the Portland Tribune editorial board wrote a scathing appraisal of the campaign, accusing it of being cloudy about its leadership, chief petitioner and the involved parties.
The campaign’s press release today names names, and a lot of them: the campaign’s top five donors (including a local screen printing company, a writer and English professor at a community college named Magdalen Powers, and a data processor named John Schroeder), the chief petitioner and the executive committee that will help steer it.
One of the five executive committee members is Alan Kessler, who founded the PAC and was Sarah Iannarone’s campaign lawyer during her bid last year to become Portland mayor.
WW also obtained the 200-word rationale for recall that the campaign included in its filing with the city. Essentially, it’s the campaign’s pitch to the city as to why Portlanders should be given the chance to oust Wheeler from office, if the necessary groundswell of support exists.
Here’s its argument:
“Portland has endured years of crisis. When we needed a leader to solve problems, Ted Wheeler’s inaction made our challenges worse. Portlanders have lost confidence that their government will be there in times of need. Our city is full of goodhearted, decent residents. We should be an example to the world. Instead, with Wheeler as mayor, we have veered off course and our city’s reputation has been tarnished.
A recall is an expression of democracy designed to remove politicians who aren’t serving effectively. Portlanders are ready to recover and we can’t afford to waste the next three-and-a-half years. Portland deserves better than an uninspiring mayor reelected with less than 47% of the vote. We deserve a mayor who was elected without illegally loaning his campaign $150,000 of his personal money. Our neighbors, families, and businesses deserve a mayor who prioritizes their safety and well-being.
Ted Wheeler has repeatedly demonstrated to too many of us that he does not serve this city. Portlanders deserve a fresh start.”
Caines says it’s possible some of the language could be rejected by the city upon review, and in that case, the campaign would have to make some alterations.
Campaign volunteers will start knocking on doors to collect signatures as soon as the city approves the filing. Blount filed today, campaign manager Audrey Caines tells WW—though there might be a few days worth of lag before the city gives it the stamp of approval.
If the signatures are collected, a special election would be held to leave it to voters to recall Wheeler or not.
“The PAC and the Recall Wheeler campaign have committed to not being involved in the replacement mayoral election in any capacity,” the release said. That’s a pointed rejoinder to the Tribune’s speculation this morning that Iannarone might try to use the opportunity to run again for mayor.