This morning, Portland City Council candidate Vadim Mozyrsky conceded the primary election, acknowledging his third-place finish behind Rene Gonzalez. That means Gonzalez, a lawyer and business owner, will square off in November with incumbent Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.
Mozyrsky thanked his supporters in a press conference, looking placid.
“This is not what we had hoped for, and this was not our day. But there are many days ahead, and I’m assured by an abiding belief that the arrow of time always points forward for those that seek a more just and caring future. Change may take time, but it does happen,” said Mozyrsky, who added he has not yet decided who to endorse in the runoff but hopes to meet with the candidates in the coming weeks.
On election night last Tuesday, many observers were surprised to see Hardesty had raked in nearly 45% of the vote. Her two challengers, who both ran to her right on policy issues that included policing and homelessness, were neck and neck.
By Monday morning, Gonzalez’s lead over Mozyrsky had widened to around 1,500 votes.
Gonzalez ran a mostly grassroots campaign in neighborhoods deeply frustrated by crime and camping, speaking bluntly about what he saw as the dismal state of Portland.
Now that Gonzalez has ousted Mozyrsky, it’s unclear how Mozyrsky’s endorsers, and the independent expenditure campaign that formed behind him and was bankrolled by developers, realtors and power brokers, will regroup.
Mozyrsky expressed some frustration today with the independent expenditure, saying he’d seen few ads and other products come from the hundreds of thousands of dollars listed in public databases of contributions.
“I myself have not seen anything come of that independent expenditure,” Mozyrsky said. “No one I’ve spoken with has seen or heard anything come from that. I’ve certainly read in the media about the amount of money that as supposed to be raised and the intent behind that money, I am curious as to how that information reached the media because...it seems that never transpired.”
He says it ultimately “didn’t help.”
The race between Hardesty and Gonzalez will showcase opposite stances on many issues, including the two that are top of mind for Portlanders: policing and homelessness.
Hardesty has been a consistent critic of the Portland Police Bureau, even as that stance went out of vogue with many Portlanders during a year of rising gun violence. Gonzalez, on the other hand, wants to beef up the police force and told WW last month that the city doesn’t treat police officers fairly.
Gonzalez supports enforcing existing anti-camping laws and erecting large emergency shelters, while Hardesty has historically been opposed to most camp sweeps. Gonzalez told WW in an endorsement interview last month that he would consider rolling back certain renter protections, and possibly scaling back some inclusionary zoning policies in order to spur more housing development.
Gonzalez has not responded to WW’s requests for comment.