Portland is still a year away from the election that will determine who will serve on the new 12-member City Council.
But already, more than 10 candidates have either registered political action committees with the state or filed with the city’s Small Donor Elections Program, with the declared intent of running for one of the 12 available seats across four geographic voting districts. The candidates so far include a chief of staff to a state representative, a longtime city Housing Bureau employee, a longtime Democratic political staffer, policymakers at nonprofits, and a seasoned transportation advocate.
All of the candidates so far are fairly obscure to the average voter. Only one, longtime Democratic staffer Jesse Cornett, has sought public office before. Most are young, progressive candidates getting an early jump on announcing their candidacies and building name recognition.
But there’s another faction of candidates that, for now, wait on the sidelines: former city and county elected officials and longtime policymakers in local government. As rumors fly about which former politicos may be mulling runs, WW sought to pin them down on that very question.
Here’s what each of them had to say when reached by WW by phone, text or email.
Steve Novick, former Portland city commissioner: “It’s a hard ‘no comment.’”
Loretta Smith, former Multnomah County commissioner: “I can tell you that folks have been asking me to run. I have not decided yet if I’m going to run. I haven’t made that decision yet.”
Portland Public Schools Board Chair Michelle DePass: “‘Mulling’ is the accurate word.”
Sam Adams, former Portland mayor and onetime top aide to Mayor Ted Wheeler: Adams says he’s recently been asked to run for mayor and for City Council, but hasn’t decided yet. “It’s not a no, it’s not a yes,” he adds.
Eric Zimmerman, staffer for Multnomah County Commissioner Julia Brim-Edwards and former staffer for Mayor Wheeler: “I am absolutely considering a run. I love this city way too much to ignore the crisis’ we face in nearly every corner. I’ve been encouraging pragmatic folks to consider serving their districts since we got this new form of government. I’m also taking my own advice and weighing if my message and action-oriented approach has support in my district and with Portlanders across the city.”
Elizabeth Mazzara Myers, executive director of the Westside Economic Alliance: Myers says she is “still considering” a run.
Shannon Carney, former senior policy staffer for City Commissioner Mingus Mapps: Carney says she is considering running.
In other news: Tony Morse, who WW reported on Monday is running for City Council in District 3, says he learned on Wednesday morning that he actually lives in District 4, which includes all of the westside and a small chunk of Southeast Portland that Morse lives in. (Morse lives on a street that acts as a boundary between Districts 3 and 4. He says city officials confirmed to him on Wednesday afternoon that his house is technically in District 4.) Morse says he’s working to change his political action committee filing to reflect that he’s running in District 4.