BREAKING NEWS: Adams Not Running For Re-Election as Portland Mayor (Updated)

Portland Mayor Sam Adams won't run for re-election.

Adams released a statement this afternoon—after WW first reported he wasn't going to seek a second term—announcing his decision not to run again.

In an interview with WW this afternoon, Adams talks about his decision not to run for re-election.

Listen below or download the MP3 here.

WW has also learned that a recent poll paid for by unions shows Adams doing very poorly in a general election against his two major opponents. former city commissioner Charlie Hales and businesswoman Eileen Brady. The sources said the poll was a major factor in his decision not to run in 2012.

Update 2: Adams confirmed that the poll results were a factor in his decision in an interview this afternoon with WW.

Adams said he "sat with [political consultant] Mark Wiener on Monday and got the review of the poll that was done by AFSCME and SEIU.

"It was definitely a factor, no question about it," Adams said. "But so was the feedback I got from [local] leaders. I got great encouragement from leaders in the environmental, business, small business—I got by no means unanimous, but I just got overwhelming support for the work we're doing, the focus of the administration, and the desire to keep that going."

"The poll frankly showed me at a better place than I thought I was going to be. It should a tough, close race, no question."

The poll, Adams went on, "was a factor. The fact that this would be an expensive campaign…and require me to fundraise, now that the…public financing is gone. It would be an expensive race, and what I would realize, it would require a heck of a lot of time. Which I have fire in the belly to do. But the tradeoff is I wouldn't devote the necessary time and attention to being mayor. Fundamentally, I'm just not willing to phone it in as mayor. That's kind of what it came down to."

Edited selections from Adams' interview with WW appear below:

WW: Personally, is this hard for you? You've spent your whole life in politics.

Adams: You know, I've spent my whole life in politics, so the answer is yes and no.

Yeah, it's sad, in a way. It's a relief in a way. … I didn't plan on being an elected official when I entered public service, so, it's—I'm realistic. You don't hold any professional position forever and certainly not in politics. 

Did you talk to [former Mayor] Vera [Katz, for whom Adams served as chief of staff]?


Have you put any thought into the next chapter, what you might do next?

No, I haven't.

I wanted to make a good informed decision about this and people can count on me to continue the double-time work as mayor…and I'm going to do that for the next 17 months. I can do that without the extra layers of politics.

Do you have any feelings about the declared candidates?

Like any Portlander, I have my questions… After 18 years in City Hall a know a thing or two about a few issues. I care a lot about who leads this city. I don't know if I'll endorse or not. I haven't put any thought into it, to be honest. 

Describe your conversation with [Commissioner] Randy [Leonard].

 Amanda [Fritz] and Randy and Nick [Fish] were all surprised. 

They had no indication—?

Well, The Oregonian has been printing for almost a year that I'm expected to run for reelection. I'm not sure where they got that.

Maybe it's because I've been a fixture in city government for so many years, I think the idea of just not continuing was maybe a shock to people. The conversations were all very poignant and personal. 

Update 1: Here is Adams'

Dear Portlander,

I am finishing a long-scheduled, and much appreciated, week-long “staycation.” I hope you, too, are enjoying our long-awaited return of the sunshine. I have used my time off to reflect on the needs of our city, and how I can best serve Portlanders. I am writing to let you know my future plans.

Each day I have worked in Portland City Hall—starting as Mayor Vera Katz’s Chief of Staff, then as a City Commissioner and now as your Mayor—I have been challenged, exhilarated, and most of all honored by the opportunity to serve my fellow Portlanders and help shape the future of our city. We have done great things together.

Since I took office as Mayor, we’ve put nearly 2,000 people back to work under the city’s first Economic Development Strategy in 15 years. We reined in City spending early, and have used the budget savings to help those—like the jobless and small business owners—hit hardest by the recession. We’ve made smart investments to expand summer education programs and offer college scholarships to help thousands of students graduate high school. We’ve laid the groundwork to ensure that every Portlander has access to arts and arts education. We’ve implemented a 360-degree anti-gang violence strategy, and approved tougher laws on illegal guns and drugs. With our Climate Action Plan and initiatives like Clean Energy Works Oregon, we have reduced our green house gas emissions.

We have made these changes by creating or invigorating community partnerships, like the new Cradle to Career education partnership, the emerging Portland Plan Partners Council, and the reorganized Planning and Sustainability Commission. These community- and business-based partnerships for change will endure, regardless of who holds positions of leadership in the public and private sector.

Making progress in this manner—progress that is accountable, resilient, and ever-improving—is the reason that I entered public service. We have a lot more work to do, which brings me squarely to my future plans.

I am under no illusion of how challenging the race for re-election would be. I’ve been in tough elections before; nobody thought I could win my city council race in 2004. But I believe for me to win re-election as mayor, I would need to fundraise and campaign full-time, starting now.

As I have considered the reality of a possible re-election effort, I have come to the conclusion that I have a choice: Move this agenda forward, or campaign full-time for re-election.

With the state of our nation in such flux, and so many local issues needing focused and hands-on mayoral leadership, for me, the choice is clear.

My best service to Portland will be to complete the platform of change and improvement you elected me to deliver: Creating jobs, increasing the high school graduation rate, and making Portland the most sustainable city, with the most equal of opportunities. This work is well underway, and I’m committed to making every day of the next 17 months count. Thus, I will not seek re-election. 

Each day—supported by my partner, Peter, and my family—I wake up feeling blessed to have the opportunity to serve as your mayor. It is, without a doubt, the best job in the world.

It’s also a job I cannot do alone. I want to thank my staff, who bring an unparalleled passion for this city to their work each and every day. I’d also like to thank my council colleagues, who have shared in this vision for a better Portland, and have helped us realize it. And I want to thank our community, business, non-profit, education, and faith community partners, without whom we could not have accomplished this much.

Mostly, I want to thank you. 


Sam Adams

WWeek 2015

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