The Portland Police Association announced Monday afternoon that it has endorsed lawyer Rene Gonzalez, one of two leading challengers running to unseat City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.
“Rene Gonzalez immediately struck our board as a no-nonsense collaborator,” PPA president Sgt. Aaron Schmautz said in a statement. “He calmly and confidently defined the problems our city is facing, with a courageous eye to real, commonsense solutions. Most critically, he recognized the Police Bureau as a stakeholder, not as a singular solution. He demonstrated the willingness to not only recognize problems in our community but to lead in bringing together those impacted and organizing around commonalities, not differences.”
Schmautz wrote that Gonzalez was one of two candidates who met with the union’s executive board seeking an endorsement. The other candidate was Vadim Mozyrsky, a federal administrative law judge.
Schmautz said Mozyrsky “demonstrated a willingness to speak openly and directly about key issues, such as public safety, even if his perspective on solutions is different than those in the room.”
“When distilling this election to the immediate issues facing Portland—public safety, cleanliness, and livability—the PPA’s executive board saw one candidate stand out: Rene Gonzalez,” Schmautz said. “He is the candidate most capable of finding real solutions, through collaboration, to the rising crime and violence problem in our city.”
The PPA’s announcement follow’s yesterday’s endorsement of Gonzalez by The Oregonian. Mozyrsky, for his part, has secured establishment endorsements from groups like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 189, the Joint Council of Teamsters No. 37 and the Portland Business Alliance.
It is wholly unsurprising that the PPA did not endorse Hardesty—a longtime police critic whose relationship with the Portland Police Bureau has grown increasingly frayed over the past two years.
Schmautz was elected president in the fall. He succeeded former PPA president Brian Hunzeker, who resigned from the position of union head last March due to his role in leaking information that falsely implicated Hardesty in a hit-and-run crash.
As a result of the subsequent internal affairs investigation, Mayor Ted Wheeler fired Hunzeker from his job at the bureau last month (the PPA is pursuing arbitration to overturn his firing). Hardesty is also the plaintiff in an ongoing $5 million civil lawsuit against the PPA, Hunzeker, another PPB officer involved in the leak, and the city of Portland.