Here's an early holiday gift from us to you: A new election to start thinking about! (You can thank us later.)
Last month, Portland city councilors voted for Nick Mavodones to serve a second consecutive (and fourth total) year-long term as the city's mayor, a mostly ceremonial post as it currently exists. But next year, that will change. Last month, Portlanders voted to bring back (after a hiatus of more than 80 years) the elected-mayor system; the first mayoral election will take place in November 2011. Once the results were in, murmured conjecture began: who will be Portland's first elected mayor in decades? That person will be like the oldest sibling of future Portland mayors, with a four-year term to set precedents, to figure out the parameters of the post, to make mistakes and learn from them without any contemporary comparisons.
Some say that it's too soon to start speculating on who will run in what is sure to be an expensive and closely watched race. Others admit that they're thinking about throwing their hats into the ring. Those who have firmly decided not to run offer some of the most interesting thoughts, most likely because they don't have to be particularly cagey.
We sent a query to some usual suspects — city councilors, local activists, and people about-town. It was by no means a comprehensive survey, but it does provide the first sketchy outlines of the elected-mayor campaign landscape. Councilor Jill Duson and councilor-elect Ed Suslovic didn't respond to our inquiries, but here are some comments from those who did:
JOHN COYNE, DISTRICT 5 CITY COUNCILOR "I am sure that there are a great amount of people that feel that they have the answers for this city. My hope is that this person is mindful of the amazing people of Portland. I believe that there is a native son/ daughter that can make this a transition that is smooth. I am hoping that this is not a candidate that makes residency in Portland a new thing and uses our great city to accelerate a political career or other views from where they came from . . . I fear that this new position may be even more politicized than our regular elections."
ED DEMOCRACY, LOCAL ACTIVIST "I have no plans to run . . . [M]y plan is to encourage a large field of candidates to run so we can have a vigorous neighborhood-by-neighborhood, citywide discussion about the future of Portland and the role our elected mayor can play in helping us to get there. Looking past all the usual suspects — who I really hope will think twice before running — I think Steve Rowe would make a great mayor! Two other high-profile leaders who are engaging people around the city, really listening and really responding are police chief James Craig and school superintendent James Morse. It would also be great to have a new young leader emerge who could engage college and high school students and inspire all Portland kids to get involved!
KEVIN DONOGHUE, DISTRICT 1 CITY COUNCILOR "I do not intend to run for mayor in 2011, but will likely seek re-election (to the council) in 2012."
SONYA TOMLINSON (A/K/A SONTIAGO), LOCAL MUSICIAN/ACTIVIST "Quite honestly, my sister Jessica would be a far better candidate than I."