Akasha Lawrence Spence Abandons Bid to Unseat City Commissioner Dan Ryan

It’s the second notable candidate who’s dropped out of the race to unseat incumbent Dan Ryan in recent weeks.

Two leading candidates who sought to unseat Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan have now dropped out of the City Council race.

On Tuesday, state Sen. Akasha Lawrence Spence (D-Portland) announced she was suspending her campaign for Ryan’s seat. In November, Lawrence Spence was appointed to the Oregon Senate representing District 18 after Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) departed the seat during her term.

Lawrence Spence’s decision, first reported this morning by The Oregonian, follows last week’s announcement by Jamila Dozier, a housing policy coordinator for the Portland Housing Bureau, that she was suspending her campaign.

Lawrence Spence and Dozier were both considered viable progressive candidates for Ryan’s seat, and are both women of color. Ryan, a first-term commissioner, is viewed with suspicion by the left wing of Portland politics for his votes to maintain police funding and against immediate expansion of Portland Street Response, an alternative to dispatching police to emergency calls. In recent months, he has struggled to deliver on his central policy promise: safe rest sites for homeless Portlanders.

One new candidate has filed to unseat Ryan. AJ McCreary is director of the Equitable Giving Circle, a social justice nonprofit focused on economic equity. She’s involved with mutual aid efforts in Portland and is active in cannabis industry equity initiatives.

Lawrence Spence, in her statement announcing her departure from the race, endorsed McCreary. She did not delve into specific reasons she dropped out.

“As I began the process of hiring staff and building up campaign infrastructure, I came to the realization that for who I am at this moment, now is not the time and place for me to serve on the Portland City Council,” Lawrence Spence said in her statement. “I know we would have won this race, and that’s why it is so important for me to step away now, before the campaign season kicks off in full swing.”