By David Krogh

In January, City Council scheduled a special election to fill the remainder of the term of former Commissioner Nick Fish who passed away January 2.

The special election was intended to coincide with the City’s regular May 19 Primary Election. A runoff election, if necessary, would then be held on Tuesday, August 11 should no candidate receive a majority of the vote.

Out of a field of 18 candidates for Fish’s Commission Position 2, no candidate received a majority of the votes. Therefore, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes have moved on to the August 11 runoff.

Those two candidates are Loretta Smith, former Multnomah County Commissioner with 18.8 percent of the votes and Dan Ryan, former Portland Public Schools Board Member with 16.6 percent of the votes.

Since Portland’s current commission system of government does not involve geographic representation, Commission Position 2 is a citywide position to be voted on by all of Portland’s registered voters via mail-in balloting.

Photo courtesy of The Committee to Elect Loretta Smith

Loretta Smith is a longtime Portland resident and Oregon State graduate whose background experience includes working for 20 years assisting US Senator Ron Wyden and subsequently serving on the Board of County Commissioners for Multnomah County for eight years.

She has received accolades for her support of community and minority-oriented projects as County Commissioner, including efforts to increase funding for minority youth programs and Summerworks, a youth intern program.

Her campaign website, votelorettasmith.com, identifies priority areas she’d like to address if elected to City Council includes increasing supportive services for promoting affordable housing; investing in transportation and public infrastructure to reduce congestion and climate change; working to make transit fareless for low income residents by 2023; bolstering support for public safety employees, and using cannabis taxes to assist women, minority and veteran entrepreneurs who wish to get into the cannabis industry.

She was a strong proponent for converting the Wapato Jail (Multnomah County’s multi-million dollar unused jail facility) for homeless housing.

Smith sums up her campaign with the statement, “It is imperative, now more than ever, that we are building a city that is inclusive of everyone’s right to economic opportunity and the pursuit of happiness.”

She has received endorsements from the Northwest Oregon Labor Council and the Reverend Jesse Jackson according to online press information.

Her 2018 campaign involved a measure of controversy. Following a 2017 Willamette Week investigation into spending practices by Smith’s office, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) stated “Questions about Smith’s use of public resources for personal and campaign expenses and her public fights with staff and colleagues have frequently overshadowed her accomplishments and cost her political support in her campaign against Jo Ann Hardesty.”

Hardesty went on to win the 2018 election against Smith for City Commission Position 2.

Dan Ryan, is a Portland native who served on the Portland Public Schools Board and has been heavily involved with community service and nonprofit agency support.

He was the CEO for All Hands Raised, an educational nonprofit, for 11 years and has received considerable acknowledgement for his work in that field.

Hardesty announced her support of Ryan through her Rise Together political action committee and was quoted in The Oregonian saying he was, “head and shoulders above the field,” and that she was looking forward to working with him on City Council.

Photo courtesy of Mark Bond and the Dan Ryan For Portland Campaign

Ryan’s campaign website, danryanforportland.com, states: “We need to label racism for what it is – a public health crisis that has infected our police forces and our criminal justice system.”

Part of his strategy for police reform will be to examine police culture and to take a hard look at the issue of “qualified immunity.”

He plans on examining what else the city can do to adequately address homelessness, housing affordability and the impacts of COVID-19.

“Public and private partnerships is how you move forward.” He added, “I will advocate for the big three that bring us joy as a community: Schools, Arts and Parks.”

Ryan’s website has endorsement quotes from Hardesty, former governor Barbara Roberts and business leader Karis Stoudamire-Phillips and many others including The Portland Tribune.

They reported it “loved” the answer Ryan gave to their interview question: “Whether this is the time to reform Portland’s notoriously and often hilariously dysfunctional governance system.”

Ryan responded with a roll of his eyes, “Oh, yes. I mean, Keep Portland Weird, but we have to stop being stupid!”

Ballots (containing a Multnomah County Voters’ Pamphlet) for the August 11 runoff election have been mailed out to voters.

They can be returned by US Mail (free postage; must be mailed by Thursday, August 6) or deposited at an official ballot dropsite by 8 pm Tuesday, August 11 in order to be counted.

For additional information, contact the Multnomah County Elections Division at multco.us/elections.