By David Krogh
Portland’s trend for large numbers of candidates on a ballot for a single City Council position is continuing with the Thursday, May 17 primary, even after the record breaking 2020 election.
Position 3, currently held by Jo Ann Hardesty, has 11 candidates. The common thread to the many candidates seems to be a growing desire to see change in what they perceive as a problem-filled city government that is lacking in responsiveness to public concerns.
To help the public in understanding who the candidates are and what they propose, The Southeast Examiner is listing the entire slate of candidates for Position 3 as identified by the City Auditor’s Office. The list includes basic information submitted by the candidates, their campaign goals, if provided, and campaign websites, if available.
More information is provided at the City Auditor’s Election website, portlandoregon.gov/auditor/26642. Other candidate information was provided from the League of Women Voters’ election website, vote411.org.
In addition, the Multnomah County Voters Pamphlet for the May 17 primary, including candidate descriptions and statements, is scheduled to be mailed to voters by Wednesday, April 27, the same day as ballots start being mailed for this election. Since some of the candidates do not have campaign websites, the voters’ pamphlet will be an additional information source.
Ed Baker: not employed; no prior government experience listed; electedbaker.com. Having experienced homelessness, he believes a different mindset and life experiences are required for this council position. He also advocates truth and accountability for the legal system.
Rene Gonzalez: attorney and technology company owner; no prior government experience; reneforportland.com. Gonzalez believes efforts are needed to stabilize the city, stop uncontrolled camping and promote safe housing for those in need.
Jo Ann Hardesty: current City Commissioner Position 3; prior state government experience; joanneforportland.com. Hardesty believes more efforts are needed to support homeless and low income people and stop demonizing poverty. Portland is in a crisis now and stronger community and business efforts are needed to remedy the situation.
Dale Hardt: not employed; no prior government experience noted; no website provided but a video is available at youtu.be/r4B8g_lHH3Y. Replying to the paper’s request for information, Hardt states he has a can-do attitude and a specific plan to deal with homeless camping.
Kim Kasch: writer; Board Member North Tabor Neighborhood Association; kimkaschforportland.com. Kasch’s comments include encouragement for increased business support and public/private partnerships and better de-escalation training for police.
Chad Leisey: branch and service manager; volunteer fire fighter; no website provided. If elected Leisey would ban street camping and pan handling, increase volunteer support and have police walk the streets getting to know the public and businesses.
Vadim Mozyrsky: administrative law judge; prior experience as an attorney and active participation on several city committees, including the Charter Review Commission; votevadim.com. Advocating for underserved communities and promoting partnerships with businesses are just a few of Mozyrsky’s platform planks.
Peggy Sue Owens: small business administrator; no prior government experience; commonsensecampaignpdx.com. Owens supports increased police presence, body cameras, police oversight and more support for groups that assist the homeless community.
Karellen Stephens: caregiver and activist; no prior government experience; no website provided. Stephens did not reply to The Southeast Examiner’s request for information.
Joseph Whitcomb: trucking; GOP Chairman for Multnomah County; josephwhitcomb.wixsite.com/political-candidate. Funding the police, cleaning up the downtown and graffiti, supporting vagrancy laws and bringing back community policing are part of Whitcomb’s goals.
Jeffrey A. Wilebski: educator and small business owner; public school system involvement; wilebskipdx.com. Wilebski advocates for clean and safe public spaces, adequate service levels for those in need and encouraging police to be more equity focused similar to the Portland Street Response program.
The City Club of Portland held a debate April 7 with the most qualified of the Position 3 candidates, as determined by City Club policies. The debate included candidates Jo Ann Hardesty, Vadim Mozyrsky and Rene Gonzalez. In short, the two challengers were critical of Commissioner Hardesty’s track record. However, all three candidates were supportive of revising the current antiquated commission form of government. The full debate was recorded and is available to watch at youtube.com/watch?v=GQVfuFjzQpQ.
According to the City Elections Office, if no candidate receives a majority of votes on May 17 primary, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes for that position will appear on the Tuesday, November 8 General Election ballot for a runoff. When a large number of candidates are running, generally a runoff election is needed.
Ballots must be deposited in an official dropbox by 8 pm on May 17 or mailed with a postmark of May 17. The postmark requirement for mailed ballots is different than in previous years based on a law passed in 2021 allowing mailed in ballots with the required postmark to be counted when received up to seven days after the date of the election.