Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Her Two Leading Challengers All Give Mayor Ted Wheeler a Failing Grade on Gun Violence

Portland’s gunfire—and the question of whether a cut in police funding contributed to violence—underlie the bitter fight Hardesty faces.

As of April 21, Portland police say that 28 people have been killed by gunfire in the city this year. That’s a rate of killing on pace to eclipse the 69 shooting homicides the city witnessed last year. And the Portland Police Bureau says the 390 shooting incidents in the city from January through March are up 248% from the same period two years ago.

Those trends aren’t the only reason why City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty faces a seething electorate. But Portland’s gunfire—and the question of whether a cut in police funding she led contributed to violence—underlie the bitter fight Hardesty faces with Vadim Mozyrsky and Rene Gonzalez in the May 17 primary election.

Both challengers have made reducing gun violence and property crimes a central plank of their campaigns (along with reducing the prominence of homeless camps).

Last week, the three candidates visited WW’s office for a joint endorsement interview.

We asked each of them to grade Mayor Ted Wheeler’s performance on responding to the rise in gunfire that has plagued the city for nearly two years. The grades they gave were dismal (no one awarded Wheeler a better mark than D+) but the rationale differed, and the distinctions say a lot about how the candidates view the work of police in this city.

In this video, Gonzalez answers first, then Mozyrsky, and finally Hardesty.

Watch the full discussion here: