Sarah Iannarone’s 2020 Mayoral Campaign

By David Krogh

Sarah Iannarone is one of many candidates running for Mayor against Ted Wheeler.  Originally from New York, Iannarone moved to Portland in the late 1990s and ran the Arleta Library and Bakery in SE Portland, before attending Portland State to achieve her PhD in Urban Studies. 

She formerly worked as an administrator at PSU and currently teaches at the Wayfinding Academy in North Portland. 

Iannarone is an urban activist and unsuccessfully ran for Mayor in 2016, coming in third behind Ted Wheeler and Jules Bailey. She views the current campaign as a real opportunity for her to interject positive changes into a negative situation.

Her campaign has not responded to specific questions posed by The Southeast Examiner. The campaign website and other sources of information have been researched in order to focus on issues especially relevant to SE Portland residents. 

Here is how Sarah Iannarone’s campaign proposes to address certain issues.

Changing the commission form of government: Iannarone advocates reforming the “weak mayor” commission through a robust charter review process. “Our current system of citywide at-large elections has meant that only a small fraction of Portlanders are able to run for City Council. 

“As a result, our elected officials on the City Council have historically been whiter, wealthier, more likely to be a man, and to live west of the Willamette River than the average Portlander.”

Public Safety: Iannarone looks at public safety as a broad category that includes support for the homeless, an end to police profiling of people of color and ensuring safety for all, including a continuation of Portland’s Sanctuary City Status.

Traffic Safety: As an avid bike user, Iannarone advocates for continued support of Vision Zero and speed limit reductions; stronger drunk driving enforcement; better street lighting; more traffic safety cameras at problem intersections and transfer of dangerous state highway facilities to the City for correction. 

Traffic safety, she says, is only one part of a greater need to improve public safety overall. Her Safety for All comments indicate she is a transportation expert, however, she does not have a background in traffic management or transportation planning. 

She advocates for increased bike and bus use, but her policy statements have not addressed current problems with traffic congestion, parking or street maintenance which are of great concern to residents and businesses in SE Portland.

Housing: Iannarone says, “We’ve had our heads in the sand about what housing is affordable to whom. This has left us with a shortage of the housing that our people actually need.” 

According to her housing policies, Portland has only approved approximately 1,300 affordable units since 2016 when it is estimated that closer to 23,000 units are needed. 

She adds, “We need to rethink our priorities as a community to focus on raising household incomes, reducing racial and economic segregation, and ending rampant speculation without benefit to local residents.” 

Climate: According to her, Portland has touted its “greenness” for years with little to show for it. 

Among the points Iannarone advocates are declaring a “climate emergency” and taking dramatic steps to address it; including stronger promotion of green building construction; expanded (and free) transit services so more people will be encouraged to bus; elimination of internal City silos which inhibit bureaus from working together towards meeting climate targets; prohibition of new fossil fuel related infrastructure along with a ban of oil trains and encouraging more local input into potential remedies.

The campaign website proposes to include vision statements and policies for the topic areas of Equity and Inclusion and Smart Cities in the near future. 

A January 19 op-ed by Iannarone in The Oregonian states her feelings more openly about running for Mayor than on her campaign website. 

She is upset over what she perceives is a lack of “bold leadership” in Portland City Hall saying, “The Portland mayor’s office is failing our city at a critical time and, yes, like my community, I’m frustrated about it.”  

For additional information about Iannarone’s campaign and related events she is sponsoring, visit

Photo by Maddie Lee

Sarah Iannarone’s 2020 Mayoral Campaign

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